Nov 12, 2011 Phil Blackwell Uncategorized
At any level of football, with any kind of stakes, forcing seven turnovers almost guarantees a victory.
And that’s what the Chittenango Bears pulled off in Friday night’s Class B regional playoff game at Binghamton Alumni Stadium, forcing Section IV champion Chenango Valley into all kinds of mistakes on its way to a 42-0 shutout of the Warriors.
Of those seven takeaways, Chittenango got five of them in the first half, leading to a 28-0 margin and a cruise the rest of the way against a Warrior side that had beaten Cazenovia in this same regional round a year earlier.
Each of the first three times CV had the ball, it ended with the Bears taking it away, starting with a fumble recovered at the Warriors’ 26 by Justin Henry that led to a short drive and Joe Gilona scoring on a two-yard run eight minutes into the contest.
Then the Warriors fumbled the ensuing kickoff, and Chittenango, from CV’s 43, the Bears moved to the Warriors’ six, from where Devin Phelps executed a gem of a play, abandoning a planned option run, scrambling and then throwing to Devin Christopher in the end zone. Steve Billington’s extra point made it 14-0.
A third CV fumble on its own 25 led to more points, Gilona finding the end zone on a four-yard run. Then Gilona dispensed with any need for the offense to operate when he jumped in front of a Kevin Cox pass and returned the interception 39 yards for another touchdown.
Comfortably ahead, Chittenango spent the second half preserving its shutout and causing two more turnovers. Aaron Jones led the defense with 10 tackles, while scoring drives led to one-yard TD runs for Kyle Zimmer and Alex Carter.
Of the Bears’ 264 total yards, 210 of them came on the ground, as Zimmer led with 104 yards. Gilona added 54 yards as Phelps threw just nine passes, completing three of them for 54 yards.
Remarkably, the Bears were the only Section III champion to win in the regional round as, in order, West Genesee (Class AA), Herkimer (Class C), Westmoreland (Class D) and East Syracuse-Minoa (Class A) all got eliminated.
As such, Chittenango carries the local football banner alone into Saturday’s state Class B semifinal at 3 p.m. against Hornell at ESM Stadium. The winner plays Croton-Harmon or Schalmont in the state final Nov. 27 at the Carrier Dome.
Hornell, the two-time defending state champions riding a 36-game win streak (longest in the state), needed a late touchdown, two-point conversion and overtime to survive Alden 20-14. The Red Raiders are looking to give its long-time head coach, Gene Mastin, one more title before he retires at season’s end.
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