Sep 25, 2010 Phil Blackwell Uncategorized
Whole volumes full of flowery adjectives could describe the epic football battle that Cazenovia and Vernon-Verona-Sherrill waged Saturday at Buckley-Volo Field.
For three hours, the Lakers and Red Devils traded blows, neither side giving in, until finally Cazenovia pulled it out 50-44 in double overtime on Jeff Hopsicker’s five-yard touchdown pass to Ben Romagnoli.
That was merely the last big play in an afternoon full of them. There were three ties, four lead changes, at least a dozen momentum shifts – and one monumental injury that directly affected the final outcome.
“We made our share of mistakes,” head coach Tom Neidl said. “But the kids persevered. They’re intelligent, and they play together.”
It didn’t take long for the madness to begin. Within two minutes of the opening kickoff, (1) Tyler Mautner had thrown a 76-yard scoring pass to Eli Cleveland, (2) Cazenovia had answered with Hopsicker finding Doyle Judge on a one-handed, 72-yard TD grab and (3) a fumble on the ensuing kickoff led to John Greacen’s two-yard scoring run.
VVS was down 14-6, but Mautner was just setting off on a first half of historic proportions where he completed seven passes for an astonishing 369 yards against a young and overmatched Laker secondary.
Three times, Mautner had long TD passes – the first to Cleveland, then another long scoring strike to Cleveland covering 83 yards, and finally an 81-yard pass to Tyler Curtis. Just before the half, a 73-yard connection with Matt Silker set up Colin Way’s one-yard TD sneak.
Not that Hopsicker was quiet. Overcoming a pair of interceptions, he found Jose Wells on a 45-yard TD pass up the middle seconds after Way had scored, but a missed extra point meant Cazenovia trailed 28-27 as everyone took a deep breath at halftime.
Both sides went to the ground in the third quarter, VVS putting together a six-minute drive that finished with Way scoring from two yards out. Mautner’s two-point pass to Silker made it 36-27, and Cazenovia needed two scores to pull it out.
The Lakers got more than that, thanks to Judge, who dominated much of the fourth quarter. He caught a 43-yard TD pass from Hopsicker on the first play of the period, be-lted a 32-yard field goal with 5:09 left that put Cazenovia up 37-36, and intercepted a Mautner pass 53 seconds later, returning that 35 yards for yet another touchdown.
Trailing 44-36, VVS now showed its own character, marching 73 yards in just 1:24 as Way, from the Lakers’ 11, scored to move the Red Devils within two. Mautner found Curtis for the tying two-point conversion.
VVS got the ball back in the final minute, trying to win it, when disaster struck on the last play of regulation.
Scrambling away from a Cazenovia blitz, Mautner finally went down, Travis Mimms making the sack – and as he came down, Mautner injured his left ankle.
Helped off the field, Mautner, who had thrown for a school-record 439 yards, could not continue for overtime, where each team gets one possession at the 20-yard line. So Mike Eichenlaub took over as the Red Devils’ quarterback – and threw an interception on the second play, Chris Schaffner getting the pick after the pass slipped through the hands of a VVS receiver.
Now all the Lakers needed was a field goal, and worked the ball to the VVS 15 before Nick Christakos came in to try a 32-yard kick. The possible game-winner had plenty of distance, but clanged off the right upright. It would go to a second OT.
Again, the Red Devils could move ahead, and Silfer picked up a first down – only to fumble on the nine-yard line, and again it was Schaffner coming up with the ball to end the VVS possession.
Given one more chance to end this classic, the Lakers carefully ran the ball to the Red Devils’ five before, on third-and-goal, not wanting to face another kick, Hopsicker rolled out, went to the end zone – and Romagnoli dove to make the winning catch.
Overall, Hopsicker threw for 249 yards on nine-of-17 passing, while Greacen worked hard on the ground, carrying the ball 30 times for 174 yards. Dan Majewski had a team-high 17 tackles, with Noah Shepard adding 13 tackles.
After all this, the Lakers (4-0), no. 8 in the state Class B rankings, get a short week before facing 3-1 Oneida Friday night at 7 p.m – just as VVS, with or without Mautner, visits Chittenango.