Oct 08, 2011 Phil Blackwell Uncategorized
With constant trips to the end zone from both sides and countless shifts in momentum, the West Genesee football team found itself in a very familiar predicament throughout the first half of Friday night’s game against Utica Proctor at Wildcat Stadium.
But the Wildcats soon tired of the drama and used a complete team effort in the second half to beat the Raiders 53-27, moving to 6-0 and clinching the Class AA-2 division regular-season championship.
This came, of course, a week after WG’s incredible 39-38, last-second victory over Baldwinsville where, among other things, backup quarterback Dan Ginestro led two late scoring drives after replacing the injured Matt Naton and, on the last march, the Wildcats inadvertently got a fifth down.
Naton was back for this game, but he had to wait to assume the stage as a wild first quarter took shape against a Proctor side that entered the game with a 3-2 record.
Nate Flask, who scored the last touchdown in the B’ville epic, struck on defense early in the first quarter by returning a Raiders fumble 20 yards for a touchdown. Yet on the ensuing kickoff, Proctor’s Lawrence Elliott tore through WG’s coverage, 80 yards to the end zone, and the extra point tied it 7-7.
In response, the Wildcats put together a more conventional scoring drive, Naesean Howard going the final six yards for the TD, his 12th of the season. And that 14-7 lead only lasted a few seconds because the Raiders’ Maurice Peace took WG’s next kickoff and, incredibly, sped 90 yards through the leaky coverage for another return touchdown.
So as the first quarter wound down, WG had not allowed anything on defense and had even scored on that end of the ball to help its cause, yet were tied 14-14. Soon enough, though, Naton would start to restore order.
Protected by a veteran offensive line that again offered excellent protection, Naton, from his own 43, found Sean Howard, and the senior wide receiver went the rest of the way, 57 yards for the TD that put the Wildcats ahead for good at 20-14 just at the period ended.
Quickly, the Wildcats got the ball back and moved to Proctor’s 24, from where Naton hit tight end Brett Colvin for his second scoring pass in as many drives. Before the half was done, Naton himself would find the end zone on an 11-yard run.
Despite all this, WG only led 32-27 at halftime, and needed to settle down. It did so, especially on the defensive side, where an experienced unit never let Raiders quarterback Jordan Treen get too comfortable, throwing or running the ball.
Meanwhile, the Wildcats resorted to its ground game to control the clock in the last two periods, mainly because Naton took another hard hit and left the game, leaving Ginestro to work the rest of the way.
Regardless of who was under center, WG wore Proctor down and drove to three touchdowns, all on the ground. Naesean Howard found the end zone from 26 yards out in the third quarter, while Kesean Sparks added his own nine-yard scoring run in the final period.
Naesean Howard returned for one more TD on a five-yard run, capping off a night where he managed 224 yards on 27 carries. Naton attempted 12 passes, completing nine of them for 142 yards before he exited. Sean Howard (103 yards on four catches) and Teddy Glesener (53 yards on four catches) were the main targets of Naton and Ginestro.
To try and complete an undefeated regular season, WG will visit Sunnycrest Field to face Henninger next Saturday at 1 p.m. The Black Knights are 2-4, its playoff hopes dashed by Friday’s 35-13 defeat to Corcoran.