Fayetteville-Manlius linebacker Josh Pulver (54) and defensive end T.J. Wheatley (9) combine to bring down Henninger quarterback Keisean Scott (10) in Saturday's Class AA playoff game. The Hornets only allowed a third-quarter touchdown as it beat the Black Knights 17-6.
continued With Shafer sidelined due to injury, Wittig got his turn under center and drove the Hornets down the field. Bright converted a crucial third-and-one, sneaking between VanLoan and linebacker Will Stanley to a hole in the left side for an eight-yard gain.
Wittig later spun out of a Stanley tackle to set himself up for a 22-yard field goal as the Hornets entered halftime with a 10-0 lead.
“We didn’t execute against them,” Henninger head coach David Kline said. “We made mistakes and that happens. They’re a good football team. You can’t do that against a good football team.”
F-M cornerback Brandon Gesler jumped a Scott pass intended for Hicks and scampered 50 yards down the sideline to set up anothers short Bright TD run early in the third quarter.
Even after Scott got sacked on the first play of the ensuing drive, Henninger ultimately worked down to the F-M three.
The Hornets' defense stuffed Hicks, West and West again to set up a fourth-and-goal at the two. Scott handed the ball off to Hicks, who ran right and appeared to be brought down a yard short of the goal line. But Hicks was awarded the touchdown, and Henninger pulled within 17-6 with 2:29 left in the third quarter.
But that was as close as the Black Knights got. With 5:22 left, Scott dropped back to pass from his own 21 on first down. He overthrew Hicks on a crossing pattern, and Wittig made a diving interception.
And on Henninger’s last possession of the game, Riccione and Wittig made their presences felt, plowing Scott and Hicks into the turf one last time on the afternoon.
“Any time you leave here (with a win) on a Saturday afternoon you know you did something good because (Henninger) is a good program,” Muench said.
With the victory, F-M advances to play Baldwinsville in Friday's AA semifinal at 8 p.m. at Liverpool High School. The Hornets beat the Bees 34-25 amid a pouring rain at Pelcher-Arcaro Stadium on Sept. 14.
Still, the Hornets' defense will again have to try and contain Tyler Rouse, the Bees' star senior tailback, who has 2,496 yards and 39 touchdowns on the season, including 262 yards and five scores in B'ville's 63-20 first-round playoff win over Central Square. The winner here will take on CBA or West Genesee Nov. 3 at the Carrier Dome for the sectional title.