Nov 02, 2013 Phil Blackwell Uncategorized
Of all the things the Cazenovia football team had a right to worry about going into Saturday’s Section III Class B semifinal against Marcellus at Chittenango High School, one of them – falling behind – was tangible and real, since it had happened the last time the two teams met.
But thanks to Kevin Hopsicker, the Lakers got rid of that problem in a hurry, and the rest proved rather simple as Cazenovia earned a return trip to the sectional final at the Carrier Dome with a 63-18 romp over the Mustangs.
Every Cazenovia player, coach and fan remembered that, on Sept. 19, a terrible start led to a 28-7 deficit early in the second quarter. The Lakers rallied and won that night, 43-35, but was properly wary of falling into similar trouble in a game with much higher stakes.
Hopsicker, in particular, wanted to avoid trouble. So the first time he had the ball on offense, Cazenovia’s senior quarterback took off up the middle and did not stop until he was in the end zone 69 yards later.
As if that wasn’t enough, Hopsicker picked off Tom Keegan’s pass at midfield late in the first quarter and returned it 36 yards to the Mustangs’ nine. Two plays later, Hopsicker ran in himself, and the Lakers had a 14-0 lead.
Marcellus did control the ball for most of the second quarter, putting together a pair of scoring drives. One ended in Keegan’s nine-yard touchdown pass to Wyatt Stehle, and after Stehle recovered a Laker fumble, a shorter march led to Ross Filtch’s 30-yard field goal, trimming Cazenovia’s lead to 14-10.
What happened in the last 90 seconds of the first half, though, proved decisive. Cazenovia put together a solid mix of runs and passes on a 57-yard drive that Hopsicker finished off with a three-yard scoring run.
Moments later, Mike Nourse picked off a tipped Keegan pass, and Hopsicker promptly found Noah King (celebrating his 18th birthday) on a 36-yard completion before going 15 yards on an option run to the end zone with 10.6 seconds left in the half. Suddenly, a close game had turned into a comfortable 28-10 edge as they went to the break.
The rout got worse in the third quarter, when Keaton Ackermann’s 60-yard option run set up Dan Phillips scoring from three yards out to extend the lead to 35-10.
Then, remembering that he was burned on a double-reverse flea-flicker pass the first time he faced Marcellus, Billy Rankin sniffed it out and intercepted Keegan late in the period. On the very next play, Hopsicker found a wide-open King for a 36-yard scoring pass.
Phillips got his moment of glory with a 59-yard dash to the end zone on the first play of the fourth quarter. Ackermann took over for a series under center and found Ryman Seeley for a 72-yard scoring pass as Cyle Dennis added a late TD on a 16-yard run.
Now the Lakers (9-0) go back to the Carrier Dome – and get another sectional final against Oneida next Sunday at 3 p.m. The Indians put together an impressive 30-9 victory over previously unbeaten (and state no. 8-ranked) Homer in the other sectional semifinal.
Of course, these two teams met Oct. 5 at Buckley-Volo Field, when both sides were 4-0. Cazenovia blanked Oneida that day, 26-0, and knows the Indians will be in the mood for payback on Central New York’s biggest sporting stage.