Sep 01, 2012 Phil Blackwell Uncategorized
It wasn’t even September, and yet the Skaneateles football team appeared to take a giant step toward maintaining the place atop the Class C West division it earned in 2011 before events off the field derailed the whole project.
The Lakers’ 31-24 victory over Bishop Ludden Friday night at Hyatt Stadium required a rally from a double-digit halftime deficit and came despite Skaneateles not scoring three times inside the Gaelic Knights’ 10-yard line.
“We played bad and made a lot of mistakes,” said the Lakers’ first-year head coach, Joe Sindoni. “It’s huge that we were able to come back.”
Deep into the fourth quarter, Skaneateles still trailed 24-22, and appeared to waste a great chance to move in front when, on fourth-down-and-goal at the Gaelic Knights’ two-yard line, quarterback Conor Herr bobbled the snap and fell down, short of the goal line.
Moments later, though, Herr, on the defensive side, made full atonement, tackling Ludden quarterback Zach Harding in the end zone for a safety that tied it, 24-24, with 7:24 left.
After the free kick and a return to midfield, Herr moved the Lakers into scoring position again. This time, from the 13, he threw over the middle – and Jake Cooney made a one-handed grab, zooming into the end zone for what proved to be the winning touchdown with 5:01 to play.
That marked the second time in the second half that Cooney had snared a TD with just one hand. The senior wide receiver had done so on a 33-yard scoring pass from Herr down the sideline late in the third quarter that helped cut the Gaelic Knights’ lead to 24-22, just after Nate Molnar recovered a Ludden fumble on an option pitch.
Cooney said that all the catching drills done in practice with offensive coordinator Tim Brown helped him concentrate and make the spectacular grabs, though he added that he had never caught any scoring pass one-handed before this night.
Even with the lead, Skaneateles still had to hang on, as Ludden drove past midfield. But with 2:58 left, Harding dropped a hand-off to Corey Wilkinson at the Lakers’ 45, and again Molnar fell on it. From there, Skaneateles was able to run out the clock.
It proved an uneven first half for the Lakers in Sindoni’s coaching debut. Despite a 36-yard TD pass from Herr to Colin Jones that briefly put Skaneateles ahead 7-6 late in the first quarter, the Gaelic Knights moved back in front early in the second period when Harding ran in from 14 yards out.
Trailing 12-7, the Lakers appeared ready to take the lead in the last minute of the half when Herr, who had already thrown an interception, made another big mistake. He forced a throw to the right, which Wilkinson picked off at the goal line and returned 100 yards for six points.
The massive turnaround left Skaneateles staring at an 18-7 deficit going to the break, but Herr said he and his teammates were not discouraged.
“We knew we could move down the field on them,” he said. “We had to just punch it in.”
That is what the Lakers would do, three times in the second half, starting with Herr’s two-yard TD run before Wilkinson answered from five yards out to extend Ludden’s lead to 24-15. The Lakers’ defense stood up and stopped Ludden three consecutive times on two-point conversion attempts, which kept things close before Herr and Cooney helped deliver a victory.
“Ludden is a great team,” said Cooney. “To beat them here is awesome.”
Overall, Cooney caught eight passes for 155 yards and those two scores. Herr was 19-for-37 for 337 yards through the air, also running for 55 yards as Max Weiss added 82 yards on the ground on 18 carries.
Now the Lakers have a short week to recuperate before visiting Jordan-Elbridge Thursday night at 7 p.m. in a game that Time Warner Cable Sports will televise. The Eagles beat Hannibal 19-13 in overtime in its season opener.