Sep 21, 2013 Phil Blackwell Uncategorized
Healing from a broken collarbone, Luke Krizman was merely a spectator as Fayetteville-Manlius lost a 38-36 classic to Baldwinsville in last fall’s Section III Class AA semifinal.
But when the two sides gathered again Friday night, Krizman occupied center stage and provided the punctuation marks as the Hornets this time prevailed over the Bees, 49-37.
It was the 5-foot-8, 160-pound senior that returned the opening kickoff 90 yards for a touchdown. And it was Krizman returning to catch a short pass from Jake Wittig and, with a few nifty moves, turn it into a clinching 58-yard scoring play with 3:15 left.
“Luke is the most electrifying playmaker in Section III,” said F-M head coach Damien Rhodes. “He knows how to step up in big moments.”
And it didn’t take long – 14 seconds, to be exact – for Krizman to deliver one of those big moments as the large Homecoming crowd at F-M looked on.
Taking the Bees’ kickoff at his own 10 near the sideline, Krizman changed gears, broke a couple of tackles and then sped up the middle, all the way to the end zone.
“We made a wall, and then I found a seam and just took off,” said Krizman.
By the time Krizman claimed Wittig’s short pass near midfield late in the fourth quarter, a whole lot of action had taken place, F-M trying numerous times to get away, but B’ville pulling back into the fray with the kind of potent passing game it has not displayed in a long time.
Nursing a 42-37 lead, F-M faced a third-down-and-seven on its own 42. At first, it looked like Wittig’s throw to Krizman would fulfill the task of picking up a first down and keeping the clock moving.
But Krizman had other plans. He took off down the sideline, picking up some blocks downfield, and then cut back to the middle, fighting off the tackle attempts from B’ville’s secondary and battling past the goal line.
Moments later, Wittig, who had thrown four TD passes and made all seven of his extra-point attempts, intercepted Gage Blasi’s pass in the end zone, the Bees’ lone turnover of the night, and F-M would run out the clock.
The fact that B’ville did hang in for so long, said Rhodes, was due to the Hornets’ physical and mental mistakes, especially on defense, where it couldn’t figure out a way to keep Blasi from finding open receivers deep downfield.
For a B’ville team long known for its ground attack, it turned into an aerial circus on this night. Blasi attempted 24 passes, completing 15 of them for 355 yards, which made up for the Hornets holding star tailback Ricky Sparks to just 51 yards on 18 carries.
This pattern started to unfold after the Hornets seized a 14-0 lead early in the first quarter, thanks to Krizman’s kick return and Zaire Ashley’s one-yard TD plunge. Blasi’s pair of long passes to tight end Mike Yorkey set up his own one-yard scoring run, and B’ville’s chase was on.
Twice in the first half, the Hornets stretched out its lead to double digits as Wittig found Jack Wilson on scoring passes of five and 30 yards. Both times, the Bees rode Blasi’s right arm down the field to scoring drives capped by short TD runs of six yards by Sparks and three yards by Blasi.
Still trailing 28-20 at halftime, the Bees cut the gap to five on Tom Scarfino’s 32-yard field goal late in the third quarter, which ignited a frantic sequence that nearly put the Bees in front.
A 23-yard pass to Krizman set up Jake Pulver’s five-yard TD run, but on the next play from scrimmage, Blasi went deep and found Cameron Skipworth on a 62-yard scoring pass, making it 35-30 and, worse yet for the Hornets, the Bees recovered the ensuing squib kick.
Here, though, F-M’s beleaguered defense finally made a stand, turning it over on downs, and a series of runs from Pulver, including a 35-yard scamper set up Wittig’s scrambling five-yard TD pass to Ashley with 7:10 to play.
Three more Blasi passes – two of them to Mitch Rein – got the Bees back within five as Sparks, who had struggled to find space all game against F-M’s fast front seven, scored his second TD with 4:15 to play on a five-yard run.
That made it 42-37, at least until Krizman delivered on his second spectacular play of the night, one that ultimately put the game out of the Bees’ reach. Overall, Wittig was 12-for-17 for 229 yards through the air, most of it to either Krizman or Wilson, while Pulver ran it 20 times for 175 yards.
F-M now takes its 3-0 mark to its first true road game of the season, as it plays at Liverpool next Friday at 7 p.m. The Warriors, following a season-opening 14-0 defeat to Henninger, have won two straight, including Friday’s 21-10, come-from-behind victory over Auburn.
“We have a lot of potential,” said Rhodes. “But we still do a lot of things to beat ourselves, like mental mistakes. And we have to work on that.”