Sep 03, 2012 Phil Blackwell Uncategorized
The often-used cliche of football as a game of inches sometimes holds true, and never more than in the waning moments of West Genesee’s game against Clarence Sunday afternoon in the Kickoff Classic at the Carrier Dome.
On the brink of a tie game and possible overtime, the Wildcats saw Brett Colvin strike the conversion attempt off the right post, which allowed the Red Devils to escape with a 34-33 decision over the defending Section III Class AA champions.
So ended a furious comeback by WG, who had rode the strong legs of junior running back Naesean Howard for much of the second half after falling behind Clarence, a Section VI school from the Buffalo suburbs, by as many as 19 points in the third quarter.
All through the game’s early stages, the Wildcats were unable to find consistency in its passing game. Howard had accounted for his team’s only points in the first half with a 74-yard touchdown sprint late in the first quarter, briefly giving WG a 7-6 lead.
Clarence quickly countered, though, scoring twice in the second quarter to grab an 18-7 halftime lead as quarterback Mark Armstrong threw for 201 first-half yards. WG, on two separate occasions, got stopped without any points after driving deep into Red Devil territory.
When Emaure Williams scored on a three-yard run with 5:11 left in the third period and caught a two-point pass from Armstrong, WG’s deficit grew to 26-7. But Howard was about to take charge.
Not even three minutes after Williams’ TD, Howard broke free for a 32-yard scoring run on fourth down, making it 26-13. After the two-point attempt was missed, the Wildcats made a stop, forced a bad punt, and watched Howard take off again, breaking several tackles on 34-yard dash to the end zone just before the period ended.
With its lead cut to 26-20, Clarence answered with a clutch drive of its own, converting a fourth down with a 14-yard pass from Armstrong to Alec Diestch before finding Williams for a 24-yard scoring strike. Overall, Armstrong was 14-for-20 for 275 yards.
Still, WG fought back, mixing in runs by Howard and quarterback Dan Ginestro before the senior found Will Northrup for a nine-yard TD strike with 5:30 left. Colvin’s PAT made it 34-27.
Then Clarence gift-wrapped WG’s opportunity to catch up, fumbling at its own 42 as Tim Washington recovered it with 4:06 to play.
Again, the ball went to Howard, who was on his way to 255 yards on 20 carries. With 1:21 to play, Howard took one more handoff, ran up the middle and then cut to the right sideline, beating the Red Devil defenders to the end zone and cutting the Wildcats’ deficit to one.
In a similar situation against Baldwinsville last season, WG head coach Joe Corley went for two points and converted, earning the victory. Here, though, he sent out Colvin for the extra point, something he had made three previous times in this game.
Colvin hit it hard enough – but these were narrower college goalposts, and it struck the right upright and caromed back to the turf.
Still, the Wildcats had a chance to recover an onside kick. But Clarence fell on it, and ran out the clock, leaving WG at 0-1 going into Saturday’s home opener against Fayetteville-Manlius, who crushed Central Square 55-7 back on Friday to start its season.
Right after West Genesee left the Carrier Dome turf, Marcellus entered the fray against Maine-Endwell, the reigning state Class A champions who moved down to Class B this fall.
The fray didn’t last long, though, as the Spartans blitzed the error-prone Mustangs with 34 unanswered points in the first quarter as Marcellus eventually settled for a 54-19 defeat.
M-E quarterback Kyle Gallagher began his team’s streak with a 50-yard TD run 2:07 into the game. After Brad Kermes fumbled, Justin Jacoby scored from 33 yards out, and when Darnell Woolfolk returned a Duncan Merritt interception 40 yards for another score, it was 20-0.
A third Mustang turnover led to Kyle Gallagher finding his brother, Adam, on a 40-yard scoring pass just 17 seconds after Woolfolk’s interception. Just before the period ended, Nick Sorrenti joined in with a 10-yard TD run.
Those 34 points, in a span of less than nine minutes, ended all suspense, and M-E stretched out the margin to 47-0 by halftime before resting all of its starters in the second half.
Finally, the Mustangs got on the board in the third quarter when Kermes scored from four yards out, though Jacoby took back the ensuing kickoff 98 yards for six more Spartan points. Ian McGloon and Tom Keegan both would find the end zone on four-yard runs in the final period. Marcellus takes on Westhill this Friday at 7 p.m. in the Class B West division opener.