Liverpool The large crowd exiting Friday night's football showdown between Baldwinsville and Liverpool were treated to the sight of the annual bonfire, associated with Liverpol's Homecoming festivities.
Yet nothing was as hot, or impossible to contain, as Tyler Rouse, whose spectacular runs pushed the Bees past the Warriors 54-29 and into a share of the Class AA-1 division lead.
B'ville's senior tailback carried the ball 39 times for 382 yards and scored seven touchdowns, and it was Rouse's three long runs in the second half that decisively turned the game in the Bees' favor.
"It was one of his best performances," Bees head coach Carl Sanfilippo said. "And this was a program game, a signature game for us."
Rouse, for his part, refused to take all the credit. "It was our team's best performance," he said. "When it got close, we played well as a team."
That work included Rouse's blockers. From fullback Cole Burchill to tight end Eric Anthony to linemen Jacob Geer, Luke Earle, Marcel Penfield, Mo Bouvia and David Sawatzke, the Bees, at the point of attack, constantly overwhelmed Liverpool's defensive front. Rouse said that when that took place, it gave him a chance to break big runs.
Never was it more needed than late in the third quarter. Liverpool, down 28-15 at halftime, had roared to life when Pat Twum returned the second-half kickoff 80 yards for a touchdown.
After an exchange of turnovers, the Warriors struck again as Jeff Edwards' 54-yard run, and fourth-down conversion, led to Justin Capoto's two-yard TD plunge. Trevor Monk's extra point gave Liverpool its first lead of the night at 29-28.
That would be the Warriors' only lead - and it lasted all of 12 seconds.
On B'ville's very next offensive play, Rouse, on a toss, found a hole and was gone, 62 yards to the end zone, quickly pushing the Bees ahead 34-29, but it didn't stop there.