SYRACUSE Henninger entered Saturday’s Section III Class AA football quarterfinal match-up with Fayetteville-Manlius averaging 38 points per game.
But against the Hornets, the Black Knights managed just six, far from enough to keep F-M from inching one win closer to its first sectional title since 2001.
Henninger dual-threat quarterback Keisean Scott and 2011 All-Central New York running back Chris Hicks had terrorized defenses all year.
With four minutes left in the fourth quarter, F-M lineman David Riccione flattened Scott at his own one-yard line, leaving the sophomore quarterback arching his back on the ground as he writhed in pain.
Minutes later, safety Jake Wittig leveled Hicks on a crossing route. He stayed down for more than a minute. Wittig called the Hornets’ defensive performance a statement.
“We play hard defense,” Wittig said. “We showed the section that we’re a good team. We played physical.”
The Hornets defense held Scott to just eight of 19 completions for 88 yards and intercepted him twice as F-M cruised to a 17-6 victory over Henninger at Sunnycrest Field.
While Hornets running backs Sean Bright (36 carries, 130 yards, two touchdowns) and Ryan Greer (10 carries, 66 yards) pounded away at the Black Knights’ front, the Hornets defense limited Hicks and counterpart Darrel West to a combined 23 rushing yards on 18 carries.
“We’ve been a defensive team all year,” Hornets head coach Paul Muench said. “I’m very proud of our defense, our schemes and how our guys played.”
The Hornets got on the board first as quarterback Wolfgang Shafer commandeered a 13-play, 75-yard drive on the first possession of the game. Shafer hit Wittig on a 25-yard post, while Bright and Greer combined for 50 hard-earned yards. Bright finished off the drive with a one-yard TD plunge.
Facing a fourth-down-and-two at the F-M 24-yard line on the ensuing possession, Henninger was in position for a quick answer. A false start on tackle Jayshaun VanLoan backed the Black Knights up five yards, though, and Scott’s pass for Hicks fell incomplete.