Oct 22, 2010 Phil Blackwell Uncategorized
Just when the dream of a first-ever Section III Class B championship appeared to be slipping away once more, the Marcellus football team rescued itself. Westhill could not do the same.
In an exciting opening round of the Class B playoffs Friday night, the Mustangs trailed visiting Holland Patent going into the fourth quarter, but made all the plays it needed to in the homestretch to beat the Golden Knights 27-17.
At the same time, Westhill saw its reign as sectional champions come to an abrupt end as Oneida showed up and, playing first-rate defense from start to finish, stunned the Warriors by a score of 24-8.
All season long, Marcellus, on its way to a 6-1 mark, had fought inconsistency, especially on the offensive side – potent one minute, silent the next. Only the defense had stood out on a week-to-week basis, and even that notion was tested against Holland Patent, who had only made the playoffs by beating Chittenango in its regular-season finale six days earlier.
Neither team scored in the first quarter. In the second period, as the Mustangs continued to sputter on the offensive side, HP went out in front, first converting on Dan Mower’s 38-yard field goal, then finding the end zone on Andy Hurteau’s 18-yard touchdown pass to Lucas Bardo.
Down 10-0 at the break, the Mustangs did what it has done many other times this season – in short, find a higher gear for the second half.
Early in the third quarter, Kyle Hastings finally moved his team down the field, reaching the Golden Knights’ eight-yard line before Hastings himself ran in for his team’s first points of the night.
A missed conversion kept Marcellus behind 10-6, and the trouble appeared to increase when Hurteau found Chris Parshall on a 29-yard scoring pass to make it 17-6. But the Mustangs’ other quarterback, Duncan Merritt, stunned HP late in the period when, from the Mustangs’ 42, he threw deep and hit Chaz Hayes, who cut through the HP secondary for a 58-yard touchdown to make it 17-12 going into the final period.
More than any single play, Merritt’s throw turned things around. Suddenly, the Mustangs’ defense started to shut down everything the Golden Knights threw at them, and soon enough Marcellus had the ball back, ready to finally move in front.
Twice, Hastings moved his team inside HP’s 10-yard line. Both times, senior tailback Ricky Alfreds finished things off. Alfreds’ seven-yard TD run, plus a two-point pass from Hastings to Steve Raven, put Marcellus ahead 20-17, and after a key interception by, Nick Huss, the Mustangs quickly drove again – and Alfreds scored from four yards out to clinch the victory.
Overall, Alfreds had 104 of his 152 rushing yards (on 23 carries) in the second half. Hayes had four catches for 89 yards, while Jason Decker led the defense with 14 tackles, seven of them solo. Zach WIley’s seven tackles included a pair of sacks.
In the Class B semifinals Saturday at 2:30 at Chittenango High School, Marcellus will face 8-0 Cazenovia, who rolled past Skaneateles 47-13 in its opening-round game. The winner here goes to the Carrier Dome Nov. 7 to face Oneida or Vernon-Verona-Sherrill for the sectional title.
As Marcellus moved ahead, Westhill was working against Oneida in a clash of the last two sectional champions. It appeared, on the surface, that the Warriors would have no trouble at all, for the Indians limped into the playoffs coming off a 33-6 loss to its biggest rival, Vernon-Verona-Sherrill. By contrast, Westhill had beaten its last two regular-season opponents (Phoenix and Skaneateles) by a combined 83-14.
Given all of this, what took place on Friday was a total shock, right from the start. As the Warriors struggled to do anything against Oneida’s suddenly inspired defense, the Indians twice moved the ball down the field and converted. Matt Barlow scored both touchdowns, on runs of 37 and six yards, and Westhill trailed 12-0.
It stayed that way until the third quarter. Westhill continued to waste its possessions, allowing Oneida to be patient when it had the ball. And when quarterback Matt Mosack scored on an 18-yard run to make it 18-0, things only turned darker for the hosts.
Mosack capped off Oneida’s masterful effort on the defensive side, intercepting Mark McAnaney’s pass and returning it 35 yards for a touchdown in the fourth quarter. Though Nathan Nigolian would return a fumble 47 yards for a score, the Warriors would not get any closer.
Much of that was due to the way Barlow ran the ball. He ended up getting 42 carries for 260 yards, working behind an offensive line that kept the Warriors’ defenders from getting a hand on him until he had made significant progress up the field.
Westhill was not the only local team eliminated in the opening round of the sectional playoffs. Bishop Ludden’s stay in the Class C tournament was a short one as it went to Ilion Friday night and took a 52-6 loss to the Golden Bombers.
Ilion, undefeated at 7-0 and no. 13 in the state Class C rankings going into the playoffs, quickly went in front of the Gaelic Knights in the first quarter as Kris Klosner threw a 53-yard TD pass to Connor Morris, then added two more scores in the second period (including Jon Treen’s 43-yard run) to make it 18-0.
Ludden got on the board when Matt Rogers threw a 50-yard scoring pass to Dan Wilkinson, cutting the margin to 18-6 by halftime, but the Golden Bombers wore down the Gaelic Knights and got 24 unanswered points in the third quarter, Treen adding two more TD’s during that stretch.
Treen finished with 174 yards on 23 carries. Ilion will face defending champion General Brown in next week’s semifinals as Ludden fell to 5-3.