Oct 07, 2012 Phil Blackwell Uncategorized
A day after it intended to do so, the Fayetteville-Manlius football team found its way back to the top spot in the Class AA-1 division.
The Hornets did not let the day-long delay of its key league contest at Utica Proctor rattle them. Instead, F-M put the focus on the field, went out Saturday night and delivered an impressive 43-7 victory over the Raiders.
When the Hornets players boarded the bus on Friday afternoon to go to Utica’s D’Allesandro Stadium, it had no idea how strange – or extensive – the journey would become.
Both F-M and Utica Proctor warmed up, but then a power outage hit the area just before the 7 p.m. kickoff, hitting more than 5,000 households.
Since it would take hours to restore the lights in the area, it was decided that the two teams would leave and return the following afternoon.
Originally, that meant an early-afternoon start. But several F-M players had to go take the SAT on Saturday morning, so it was decided to push back the game until 5 p.m., a full 22 hours after they were supposed to meet.
A lot had happened during those 22 hours, too. Most notably, Baldwinsville, led by Tyler Rouse’s 382 rushing yards and seven touchdowns, had beaten Liverpool 54-29, knocking the Warriors out of the lead in the AA-1 division it had gained through beating F-M and Proctor in back-to-back weeks.
So that raised the stakes. Now, the winner between the Hornets and Raiders would join B’ville and Liverpool in a three-way tie atop the league standings with one week left in the regular season.
Somehow, F-M didn’t let all of these distractions and pitfalls bother them. Once the game finally kicked off, the Hornets pieced together, arguably, its best all-around effort of the season.
Sean Bright put F-M in front in the first quarter with a six-yard touchdown run. Jake Wittig added the extra point, making it 7-0, and that was just the start of the sophomore’s memorable evening.
After Proctor tied it 7-7 early in the second period on Jordan Treen’s 10-yard scoring pass to Chris Simmons, the Hornets moved to midfield, from where quarterback Wolfgang Shafer found Wittig for a 47-yard TD strike, giving F-M the lead for good.
Just before the half, Wittig, already two-for-two with PATs, tacked on a 28-yard field goal, and F-M went to the break with a 17-7 edge, but was only starting to get away.
F-M logged the only points of the third quarter when fullback Ryan Greer scored from four yards out. Wittig missed that conversion, but made up for it as the Hornets’ other quarterback (he plays occasional series in tandem with Shafer), throwing a three-yard TD pass to tight end Nate Kadah in the final period.
As a whole, F-M’s front seven, from Kadah and T.J. Wheatley on the front line to Josh Pulver and Jake Pulver at linebacker, contained Treen’s attempts to run out of the pocket. And when Treen threw, Wittig again stepped in front of them, earning a pair of interceptions. Josh Pulver returned a late fumble 52 yards for a TD.
Should F-M handle Friday night’s trip to Holland Stadium to face Auburn, it will have no worse than a share of the regular-season league title, and may also earn a first-round home playoff game on Oct. 19, depending on what happens when Proctor visits Baldwinsville and Liverpool goes to Rome Free Academy.