Oct 27, 2012 Phil Blackwell Uncategorized
Not until the last minute, not until a swarm of eager punt-blockers roughed Tyler Rouse, did the Fayetteville-Manlius football team surrender in Friday night’s Section III Class AA semifinal against Baldwinsville.
Having erased most of a 20-point deficit, the Hornets were one big play – or one Bees mistake – from completing the rally and possibly setting up a showdown with CBA in the Carrier Dome.
But F-M never got that last chance, instead settling for a 38-36 defeat in a pulsating contest played out deep into the night in front of a large crowd at Liverpool High School Stadium.
Back on Sept. 14, at rain-soaked Pelcher-Arcaro Stadium, F-M had prevailed, 35-26, the only defeat the Bees had taken in the regular season. The rematch would feature its own continual wave of swerving momentum, only without the precipitation as a backdrop.
F-M first caught a break after Rouse, the Bees’ record-setting senior tailback, scored on a 75-yard dash early in the first quarter. Minutes later, Rouse intercepted a poor Wolfgang Shafer, but since Shafer got roughed, the Hornets kept the ball.
Given new life, F-M drove deep into Bees territory, setting up Jake Wittig’s 27-yard field goal. Then, after forcing a B’ville punt, the Hornets used Wittig’s 48-yard pass to Jack Wilson to set up Sean Bright’s one-yard TD.
So now F-M had a 9-7 lead, but despite that, and despite the fact that Rouse had two long TD runs called back due to other penalties, the Bees still put together 21 unanswered points.
That began when Josh Demoski threw a screen pass to his left to Shay Sargeant, who made a great move to elude a tackle and took off on a 48-yard TD sprint, putting the Bees ahead 14-9.
Another pass play, going 19 yards from Demoski to Eric Anthony, set up Rouse’s second TD that made it 21-9, where it stood at halftime. On the first play of the second half, Rouse took a toss and was never caught, a 54-yard scoring play.
Trailing 28-9, F-M started to rally thanks to more Bees penalties, as two personal fouls led to Bright’s five-yard scoring run that cut the margin to 28-15.
What followed was one of Rouse’s finest moments in a career full of superlatives. Taking a toss at his own 48, Rouse broke several tackles at the line of scrimmage, took off down the right sideline and, with one man to beat, just jumped over him while tumbling into the end zone.
Again, the Hornets would not surrender. Bright’s third TD, on a 16-yard run, made it 35-22, and after the Hornets recovered an onside kick, it converted a pair of fourth downs on the way to Chris Bortel’s one-yard TD plunge with 9:10 left.
So now it was 35-29, and B’ville needed a big play. Again, it came from the passing game, Demoski finding Anthony for a 35-yard completion that set up a 27-yard field goal by sophomore Tom Scarfino with 6:15 left, which turned out to be the winning points.
That’s because the Hornets again moved down the field, cutting the deficit to two on Jake Wittig’s 20-yard scoring pass to Dan Wyman with 3:28 left.
Again, B’ville turned to Rouse. His tough 10-yard run, and a two-yard run that followed on third-and-two, allowed the Bees to eat up most of the remaining clock, and Rouse was roughed trying to punt the ball in the final minute, giving the Bees a clinching first down.
For the night, Rouse gained 272 yards on 35 carries, numbers similar to the first time F-M faced him. Bright led his side with 122 yards on 37 carries as Ryan Greer got 62 yards on 17 carries.
Some key players now leave F-M, including Bright, Shafer, Greer, Nate Kadah, Josh Pulver, Matt McDonough and Brandon Gesler, and Hornets will always wonder what kind of success may have taken place had Austin Perez not gone down with a torn ACL before the season even started.
What reassures the F-M faithful, though, is seeing stars like Wittig, Wilson, Luke Krizman, Paddy Quinlan, Zaire Ashley, David Riccione, Richard Zogby and T.J. Wheatley set to return in 2013 and again pursue a sectional title that’s stayed elusive for more than a decade.