Oct 01, 2011 Phil Blackwell Uncategorized
Where to start when describing the West Genesee football team’s epochal 39-38 victory over Baldwinsville Friday night at Pelcher-Arcaro Stadium?
Ask Josh Ginestro, who turned into the night’s unlikely hero. “It feels amazing,” he said. “I can’t even explain it.”
Perhaps it starts with the fact that the Wildcats blew a 21-point lead to the Bees in the second half, yet made two different comebacks in the final minutes – with Ginestro, a backup quarterback, filling in for the injured Matt Naton.
Most of all, this classic tale begins at the end. With a single second showing on the block, WG, down 38-31, pulled within one when Ginestro spotted a wide-open Nate Flask in the end zone for a 13-yard touchdown pass.
This culminated a 76-yard drive that included one fourth-down conversion and, most importantly, dual penalties on the Bees – one for pass interference, the other a personal foul for unsportsmanlike conduct – that moved the ball down to B’ville’s 13, setting up Flask’s score on the very next play.
As that drive went on, WG head coach Joe Corley conferred with his assistants on possible strategy should his team get in the end zone. It was decided that, should the Wildcats get that TD, it would go for two points and the win, rather than an Evan Stefano extra point that would force overtime.
“We had their backs against the wall,” said Corley, explaining his dramatic choice.
So indeed after Flask caught the TD, the Wildcats lined up for the two-point play. Ginestro took the snap, rolled right and, with all his other receivers covered, found Garrett Waldron in the corner of the end zone for the winning points and a loud roar among the many WG fans in attendance savoring revenge for one-sided losses to the eventual sectional champion Bees each of the last two years.
“We took a shot, and it worked,” said Corley. “I’m so proud of these kids. Losing is not accepted with this group.”
B’ville, too, had plenty of reason to feel proud on this night, having stormed back following a first half where the Wildcats dominated on both sides of the ball.
Naton threw a 53-yard pass to Sean Howard to set up Naesean Howard’s eight-yard scoring run on WG’s first possession, and the sophomore scored again on a 13-yard run early in the second quarter. When Naton found Sean Howard for a 15-yard TD pass later that period, it was 21-0, where it stood at halftime.
Everything changed, though, early in the third period. A bad punt snap led to B’ville’s first points, on a safety, and it took the ensuing free kick and drove to its first touchdown, Tyler Rouse battling his way 16 yards for the score.
Naesean Howard fumbled on the Wildcats’ next play from scrimmage, and the Bees’ Josh Demoski recovered, setting up another short drive and another Rouse TD, this one from two yards out, to make it 21-15.
Not only were the Bees back in it, but Naton was out, replaced by Ginestro, who struggled through his opening possessions, even as Stefano kicked a 32-yard field goal to briefly extend the lead to 24-15.
By now, though, the Bees’ running game, anchored by Rouse, was chewing up yards and wearing down a Wildcat defense that had stuffed the star junior throughout the first half. Overall, Rouse would carry the ball 41 times and pick up 222 yards.
Rouse’s third TD, on a six-yard run early in the fourth quarter, plus a two-point pass from Augie Zona to Matt Paddock, cut the deficit to 24-23. Quickly, B’ville got the ball back, and when Rouse scored from seven yards out with 6:27 left and Zona threw to Carter Twombly for two points, the Bees led for the first time, 31-24.
Somehow, WG did not panic. In fact, it took barely a minute to answer as, from the Bees’ 43, Ginestro faked a handoff to Howard and took off, outrunning B’ville’s defense all the way to the end zone. Stefano made the PAT and it was a 31-31 tie.
When the Bees recovered the ensuing onside kick, it marched 55 yards, working the clock down. Zona’s 10-yard bootleg on third down set up his own one-yard TD sneak with 1:08 left.
Once more, B’ville was in front, 38-31, but that 1:08 was enough time for Ginestro to offer up one more bit of magic. He found tight end Brett Colvin on fourth down to keep his team alive before the frantic final sequence.
“I had confidence in my teammates that we could pull it out,” said Ginestro. “We just made plays.”
And because of that, WG is 5-0 heading into its last regular-season home game next Friday against Utica Proctor, while B’ville, having fallen to 3-2, visits Rome Free Academy.