Hornets start strong, beat Henninger 31-21

On a warm Friday night for the high school football season opener, the Fayettville-Manlius Hornets might have gained more then just a 1-0 record and a win against a traditionally good Henninger team.

By beating the Black Knights 31-21 at Sunnycrest Field, the Hornets may have established itself as a prime contender for both Class AA-2 division and secitonal honors.

F-M set the tone for the game on their first drive, utilizing an impressive passing game to move to the Black Knights' 10-yard line, setting up senior kicker Ari Waffle to put up the first points of the season with a 27-yard field goal, putting F-M up 3-0.

F-M continued to look impressive on Henninger's first drive as its defense stuffed Henninger - and would keep them in check for the majority of the game.

F-M jumped out to a 24-7 lead by halftime, getting three touchdowns in the second quarter as quarterback John Wittig, back from a knee injury that sidelined him most of the 2009 season, had a spectacular return.

Wittig scored on an eight-yard run to make it 10-0, and he threw a 30-yard scoring pass to Louis Muraco. In between, Matt Moro had a one-yard TD plunge.

But as bad as Henninger looked in the first half, it stayed in the game thanks to its big-play capability and speed. Running back Shakim Clark sprinted 55 yards for a TD early in the third quarter to make it 24-14.

Still, F-M was able to clinch the win late in the fourth quarter as its defense stepped up to the plate once again, first with Muraco returning a fumble 10 yards for his second TD of the night.

Henninger countered with Chris Hicks' 85-yard kickoff return for a TD and, down by 10, put together an impressive drive and marched down the field to try and get closer.

Faced with a fourth-down-and-one deep in F-M territory, the Black Knights decided to go for it - but the swarming Hornets' defense was in the backfield as soon as the pay started and sniffed out the running play.

F-M will try to continue their winning ways next week against West Gennesee, who got shut out 24-0 by Baldwinsville in its opener. Game time is 7 p.m.

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