Nov 04, 2012 Phil Blackwell Uncategorized
Baldwinsville’s football team sought the same happy ending in the Carrier Dome that it got when it beat Christian Brothers Academy in the 2009 and 2010 Section III Class AA championship games.
But the Brothers, who had lost three consecutive sectional finals overall, would not get beat this time, emerging from a classic second-half struggle to fight past the Bees 35-24 in Saturday’s title game.
Most of the pre-game focus was on the match-up between B’ville’s superstar running back, Tyler Rouse, and CBA’s fast, hard-hitting defense, which had shut down so many opposing offenses throughout a 9-0 run to the no. 3 spot in the state Class AA rankings.
But it was the absence of the other star running back that became a bigger story. Just one day before the final, CBA sophomore Deshawn Salter, who gained 1,255 yards and scored 17 touchdowns this season, averaging better than 11 yards per carry, fell ill with mononucleosis, sidelining him for the title game.
B’ville sensed an opportunity with Salter’s absence, but his replacement, Jonathan Stackhouse, would distinguish himself by game’s end, and CBA’s potent attack would still do plenty of damage.
Following a scoreless opening period, back-to-back plays early in the second quarter put the Bees behind.
B’ville’s first sustained drive reached CBA’s 25-yard line, but on fourth-and-one, instead of running Rouse again, B’ville tried a play-action pass. Josh Demoski got sacked, fumbled, and Keegan O’Hern returned it to the Bees’ 47.
On the very next play, CBA quarterback J.R. Zazzara (who has come back from his own mono bout to start again) kept it on an option fake, cut back up the middle and went all the way to the end zone, a 53-yard run giving the Brothers a 7-0 lead.
Other than that, though, the Bees’ defense held up well in the early going, and Brent Grippe’s 20-yard sack midway through the period pinned CBA deep in its own end, leading to a short punt and another B’ville scoring opportunity.
This one wasn’t wasted, as B’ville moved to the Brothers’ 19, from where Rouse broke through the line of scrimmage, got inside the five and leaped over the last defenders into the end zone.
Tom Scarfino’s extra point tied it, 7-7, where it stood at halftime. Rouse, to that point, had 123 yards on 19 carries, but he would never break a big run in the second half, even as the excitement was just getting started.
CBA reclaimed the lead on the first possession of the half, aided by Dametrius Brown’s 20-yard kick return near midfield. Two Zazzara passes to Cody Radziewicz, covering 22 and 15 yards, led to Stackhouse going seven yards for the go-ahead TD.
Shay Sargeant returned the ensuing kickoff 33 yards into CBA territory. After five straight Rouse runs, Demoski found Eric Anthony on a 20-yard pass, putting the Bees’ inside the Brothers’ 10. Two plays later, Rouse had his second TD on a four-yard run, and with Scarfino’s PAT, they were even again, 14-14.
Then the Bees’ short kickoff slipped out of CBA’s hands and into those of Brian Mahar at the Brothers’ 39. With a chance to go in front, the Bees again mixed in Rouse’s runs with a key fourth-down conversion when Demoski threw a 10-yard pass to Sargeant.
Stopped at the five, B’ville had to settle for Scarfino’s 22-yard field goal. Still, the Bees were up, 17-14, putting CBA in a position it had never faced all season, trailing with one period left.
Just 11 seconds into the fourth quarter, though, CBA went back in front, 21-17. Finally unleashing a long pass, Zazzara found Andre Dowdell behind B’ville’s secondary, and Dowdell did the rest, going 55 yards for the go-ahead score.
But that lead didn’t last two minutes, either. Demoski struck again with a 37-yard pass to Sargeant that ended up on CBA’s one-yard-line, and Rouse scored on the next play, putting B”ville back in front 24-21.
Trailing a second time, CBA quickly moved to the Bees’ 11-yard line, leading to the game’s biggest decision. On fourth-and-one, the Brothers went for it, and Pascarella powered six yards, setting up first-and-goal.
Two plays later, Stackhouse went five yards for his second TD of the game with 4:44 left, and the lead, now belonging to CBA 28-24, had changed hands a fourth time in less than eight minutes. But it would not change hands again.
Finally, the Brothers made a stop and forced a punt. From its own 45, CBA, with a chance to put the game away, could not get a first down, giving B’ville one more chance on its own 27 with 1:53 left.
The Bees thought it had a big play when Demoski threw deep to Eric Anthony, but an illegal block penalty brought it back, and on fourth down Demoski again lost the ball on a sack, Pascarella returning it 15 yards for a clinching TD.
A large ovation was reserved at the end for Rouse, who ended his dazzling high-school career with nearly 3,000 yards rushing this fall, numbers that earned him recognition in the “Faces in the Crowd” segment in the latest edition of Sports Illustrated. Pascarella said that Rouse was the best running back he ever faced.
Other stars will depart, too, including Sargeant, Anthony, Demoski, Grippe, Joe Stanard, Matt Paddock, Luke Earle, Alfonzo Whitehurst, Dave Sawatzke and Mo Bouvia.
While no one could match what Rouse did, the fact that Ricky Sparks, Cole Burchill and Jakeith Jackson, among others, means the Bees should contend again in 2013.