Sep 08, 2012 Phil Blackwell Uncategorized
High drama – and high emotions – marked another wild Friday evening of local high school football.
From Westhill’s 13-12 win at Marcellus to Solvay’s dedication of its home field in honor of long-time coach Al Merola to Bishop Ludden’s big first half in a 39-25 conquest of Hannibal, plenty happened on the gridiron.
The most excitement was found at Marcellus, where another large crowd had reason to cheer and pay attention right up to the final minute.
Trailing 13-6 and with time winding down, the Mustangs, who had suffered a 54-19 defeat to reigning state Class A champion Maine-Endwell in the Carrier Dome just five days earlier, moved the ball into scoring position.
And after Duncan Merritt found the end zone to cut Westhill’s lead to a single point with 35 seconds left, head coach Joe Fiacchi faced a decision – either try to tie it with an extra-point kick, or go for two points and the lead.
Fiacchi chose the latter, running Ian McGloon up the middle. But Westhill’s defenders stacked the line of scrimmage and stuffed McGloon just inches short of the goal line. Marcellus could not get another chance, and the Warriors held on, avenging a 2011 home defeat to the Mustangs.
All game long, points were precious. Reed Derrenbacher threw a TD pass in the first quarter, and Marcellus countered with Merritt finding the end zone in the second period. But both conversions were missed, leaving the two sides at 6-6 going to the break.
They remained that way until the fourth quarter. Derrenbacher, who completed 10 of 24 passes for 175 yards, most of it on two long completions to Ben Walsh for 94 yards, hit Dan Gratien for the go-ahead score early in that period.
More importantly, Westhill kicker Collin Henson made the extra point, not knowing that the conversion would be the difference in the final outcome.
In defeat, the Mustangs’ Brad Kermes was tough and durable, getting 182 yards on 31 carries. Merritt completed seven of 11 passes for 95 yards as, on defense, Chris Woods recorded 11 tackles and Jason Decker added nine tackles.
True, the Solvay Bearcats suffered another defeat, 27-6, to Cortland in its home opener, mostly victimized by a second quarter where the Purple Tigers scored 20 unanswered points to gain control.
But all the attention, and deservedly so, went to pre-game festivities where the turf at Earl Hadley Stadium was officially designated as Al Merola Field, in honor of the long-time Solvay coach who won 210 games at the school and passed away last November at age 73.
Determined to win on this special evening, Solvay played an inspired first quarter against Cortland, keeping the visitors off the board. But during the second period the Purple Tigers’ passing game changed things.
Caden Giroux broke the 0-0 deadlock with a 30-yard touchdown pass to Zach Whelan, and later in the period connected with Kody Cranston on a 45-yard scoring completion.
As if those big plays weren’t enough, Andrew Potter took off on a 75-yard run just before halftime, making it 20-0. Solvay was unable to recover, though it did get on the board in the final period when quarterback Nick Cometti found the end zone from 20 yards out.
Not far from there, Bishop Ludden, still fuming about the fact that it squandered a double-digit lead in a 31-24 defeat to Skaneateles the week before, took out that anger on Hannibal in a near-perfect first half.
it was 20-0 by the end of the first quarter. Corey Wilkinson put the Gaelic Knights on the board with a three-yard TD run, followed by Zach Harding throwing a pair of scoring passes – 17 yards to Malik Stenson and 11 yards to Antonine Montgomery.
Not content with that, Ludden kept on going in the second quarter. Harding, who completed 14 of 17 passes for 186 yards, got his third and fourth TD passes, going to Stenson from two yards out and Mike Pecciorello from 21 yards out.
So it was 33-0 at halftime, and just to cap things, Montgomery returned a kickoff 85 yards for a touchdown in the third quarter. Hannibal would make a belated surge, but 18 of those points came in the fourth quarter, long after the Gaelic Knights had sealed it.
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