Oct 12, 2013 Phil Blackwell Uncategorized
All the ingredients of a letdown were in place for the Cazenovia football team as it traveled to Adams for Friday night’s game at South Jefferson.
The Lakers were making a long road trip, with a short week of preparation, and were coming off the season’s most important game, an impressive 26-0 shutout over Oneida on Oct. 5 with first place in the Class B East division on the line.
And in fact, Cazenovia, the state’s no. 4-ranked Class B team, did trail South Jefferson at the end of the first quarter – but used a dominant second quarter to quiet any lingering concerns, and went on to cruise to a 56-20 victory over the Spartans.
As that went on, Chittenango, who appeared to have turned its season around with an impressive 49-21 win over Marcellus the week before, could not hold on to a fourth-quarter lead in a 20-16 defeat to Cortland that put the Bears’ post-season hopes in jeopardy.
No such stress bothers Cazenovia, except the high expectations that continual on-field success, plus the knowledge that every opponent is geared up to knock off a defending Section III Class B champion, as South Jefferson was on this night.
After Andrew Vogl scored the game’s first touchdown on a 43-yard run, the Spartans surprised the Lakers when Adam Hutchinson threw a 62-yard scoring pass to Dylan Beckstead. Minutes later, South Jefferson made it 14-6 when Beckstead tossed his second TD pass, 14 yards to Austin Robare.
By the end of the period, though, Cazenovia had started to wear South Jefferson’s defense down. Vogl’s second TD, on a 12-yard run, cut the Lakers’ deficit to 14-12, but set the table for a run of 27 unanswered points to end the half.
Three times, the Lakers had the ball in the second period, and every time it scored a touchdown. Dan Phillips found the end zone twice, on runs of eight and 29 yards, and quarterack Kevin Hopsicker broke loose for a 34-yard scoring run.
All of this, plus a trio of Keaton Ackermann extra points, gave Cazenovia a 33-14 halftime lead, and Ackermann added a 24-yard field goal in the third quarter before Hopsicker offered his biggest play of the night, a 77-yard scoring pass to Ryman Seeley.
Phillips earned his third TD in the fourth quarter, with Pete DeCew also finding the end zone for the first time on a one-yard run.
While all this was going on, Chittenango fully expected to have the same kind of success against Cortland, but instead found itself in a tense duel from the start.
Both teams had early problems hanging on to the ball, with four fumbles in a five-play sequence, but another turnover put the Purple Tigers up 7-0 when Zach Whelan picked off a Josh Cretaro pass and brought it back 48 yards for the TD.
Going back to the ground game, the Bears used two long runs by Cory Benn to set up Benn’s six-yard scoring run, which tied it 7-7. When Whelan found the end zone on a 23-yard run in the second period, Chittenango again answered, Cretaro going 10 yards to Kyle Mills for the TD.
Matt Milliman saw a field-goal attempt blocked just before halftime, which kept it 13-13 at the break, but he did connect on a 23-yard kick for the only points of the third quarter to put Chittenango back in front.
But that 16-13 lead didn’t last, either. Cortland quarterback Anthony Ricotilli’s long pass to Connor Caughey led to Whelan’s third TD, a five-yard run on the first play of the fourth quarter.
As time wound down, the Bears moved the ball to the Purple Tigers’ nine-yard line, only to see Cortland’s defense stiffen. When a fourth-down pass from Matt Cretaro to Josh Cretaro fell incomplete, and the host’s last chance was gone.
This left the Bears at 2-3 in the Class B West division and in fifth place, needing to beat Solvay next Friday to have any shot at reaching the playoffs as Cazenovia’s regular season concludes next Saturday at Vernon-Verona-Sherrill.
Cazenovia’s regular season concludes next Saturday at 2 p.m. at Vernon-Verona-Sherrill, who has a 5-1 record and 4-1 league mark. Should the Red Devils prevail, it would create a three-way tie for the league title between Cazenovia, VVS and Oneida, so the Lakers need to win to secure the outright crown, a top seed and guaranteed first-round home playoff game.