Oct 07, 2012 Phil Blackwell Uncategorized
True, it didn’t count for anything other than maintaining a perfect mark in 2012, but there was no way the Chittenango football team was going to take Friday’s game against East Syracuse-Minoa lightly.
Not on Homecoming night. Not with neighborhood bragging rights on the line. Not with the added spotlight of television, thanks to Time Warner Cable. And not with the extra attraction of a showdown between two reigning Section III champions.
So it only figured that senior Devin Phelps put together another major star turn, rushing for 218 yards, including a crucial long touchdown run in the fourth quarter, as the Bears held off the Spartans 27-26.
Despite an early 12-point lead, Chittenango had to rally in the latter stages. Then it had to hang on as ESM missed a two-point chance to go ahead and had another opportunity in the waning seconds before Josh Cretaro secured the game-clinching interception.
Of course, it all goes back to Phelps, whose deft handling of the Bears’ offense helped them overcome a quick 7-0 deficit created when ESM drove down the field and Jose Sanchez scored on a three-yard run.
By the end of the opening period, Chittenango was up 13-7. Phelps capped off one drive with a three-yard TD run, and Kyle Zimmer sealed the other drive by scoring from two yards out.
Zimmer returned in the second quarter to break free for a 46-yard scoring run, which made it 19-7. From there, though, the Bears cooled off for a while, giving the Spartans ample time to climb back.
And ESM did just that. K’Hari Flagg’s one-yard TD plunge made it 19-13 at the half, and in the third quarter the Spartans again moved down the field, moving to Chittenango’s three-yard line before Nick Lobello scored.
Trailing for the first time this season going to the fourth quarter, Phelps didn’t get rattled. Instead, early in the fourth quarter he worked out of the option at his own 38-yard line and, with terrific blocking, broke free for a 62-yard sprint to the end zone.
Not content with that, Chittenango faked Steve Billington’s conversion attempt, instead having Phelps throw to Cretaro for two points, which made it 27-20.
Again, ESM fought back, going 76 yards in just six plays as quarterback Sean Richardson went the final eight yards for the TD with 6:51 left. Now the Spartans went for two and the lead, but after a pass interference penalty gave ESM a second chance, linebacker Joe Gilona tackled Jeff McDuffie short of the end zone.
The Bears ate up nearly five minutes of clock on the ensuing drive, but ESM stopped it on its own five-yard line and, with 1:56 to play, got the ball back with a chance to win it.
Three times, Richardson found Pat Bryant on pass plays, which put the Spartans on the 48 with just 14.4 seconds left. That required a deep pass downfield, but All-State linebacker Aaron Jones blitzed, forcing Richardson to throw too early, and Cretaro picked it off to ice the Bears’ sixth straight win.
Chittenango wraps up the regular season with a trip to Cortland next Friday for a 7 p.m. kickoff. The Purple Tigers are coming off a 12-7 victory over Marcellus that sealed a playoff berth for Cortland and eliminated the Mustangs at the same time.