Nov 02, 2013 Phil Blackwell Uncategorized
Week after week, game after game, the Fayetteville-Manlius football team stared at defeat and did not blink, building an eight-game win streak.
But in one dreary afternoon, that luck ran out, as Henninger handed the Hornets a humbling 44-14 defeat in Saturday’s Section III Class AA semifinal at Liverpool High School Stadium.
Instead of getting the dream match-up with fellow unbeaten CBA (who hammered Liverpool 61-28 in the other AA semifinal) at the Carrier Dome, F-M, instead, saw its season end on the same field, and in the same round, as it did a year ago, when it fell to Baldwinsville in the sectional semifinals.
If a single play offered a harbinger to all that was to follow, it came early in the first quarter, after Jeff Martin intercepted Romero Collier’s errant pass. F-M drove the ball to Henninger’s 17, but going for it on fourth-down-and-one, Jake Pulver got stuffed by Black Knights defenders Jayjuan Works and Phil Crosby.
Moments later, Justin McGann broke off on a 47-yard run, leading to Collier finding Keisean Scott open over the middle on a 42-yard touchdown pass, giving Henninger a lead it would not relinquish.
Continuing to gamble, F-M went for it at its own 44 late in the period and missed again, giving the Black Knights a short field, and Collier took full advantage, finding Brandon Wilbur on a 14-yard scoring pass that, with a two-point pass to Scott, made it 14-0.
And it would get worse for the Hornets early in the second quarter as Ronzell Walker picked off Wittig’s pass over the middle and, one play later, Scott threw a gorgeous 23-yard scoring pass to Scott.
F-M did finally get on the board with a 70-yard march that Wittig finished off with a four-yard TD run, but the Hornets could not sustain that momentum, with one play in particular causing permanent damage.
Back-to-back penalties left Henninger facing a third-down-and-39 at its own 21. Going back to throw, Collier rolled right, threw deep and found Scott, who broke tackles to complete a 44-yard play and earn a most unlikely first down. Collier would score on a seven-yard run with 44 seconds left in the half, and the Hornets trailed 28-7 at the break.
Through a scoreless third quarter, F-M continued to hurt itself, missing out on three more fourth-down conversions as Henninger patiently ran the clock when it had the ball. An eight-minute Black Knights drive pinned F-M deep in its own end, and a bad punt snap led to a safety with 9:50 left.
Moments later, Collier iced it by throwing his fourth TD pass of the day, a swing pass to Scott that turned into a 43-yard sprint to the end zone. Pulver would score on a two-yard run with 5:17 left as McGann scored the game’s final TD on a three-yard run with 3:16 left.
Henninger will get a second chance to try and beat a CBA side it put a scare into on Oct. 12, leading into the fourth quarter before the Brothers prevailed 33-20.
F-M, meanwhile, can look back with pride on an 8-1 season that included a Class AA-2 division regular-season title under first-year coach Damien Rhodes, but still ended short of the Hornets’ ultimate expectations.