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F-M rolls to opening win over Schenectady

Hornets give Rhodes successful head coaching debut

— In Damien Rhodes’ head coaching debut with the Fayetteville-Manlius football, he just wanted one thing: a win. And he sure got one.

Quarterback Jake Wittig scored five total touchdowns (three passing and two rushing), running back D'Angelo Walker-Jones ran in three scores and the Hornets defense picked off Schenectady quarterback Brandon Gwinner twice in a 55-20 win during last Friday’s Kickoff Classic at the Carrier Dome.

“I’m happy for the kids," Rhodes said. "They got the win. That’s all that matters.”

In the first quarter, Wittig threw touchdown passes to Luke Krizman and Paddy Quinlan and the Hornets (1-0) jumped out to an early 14-0 lead over Schenectady (0-1). The TD toss to Krizman covered 59 yards on the opening play from scrimmage, and Wittig found Quinlan from 34 yards out.

Wittig did throw an interception during the Hornets' third drive, but F-M’s defense responded with a forced fumble at its own four-yard line. Schenectady running back Felix Rodriguez lost the ball, and it went backward until Nate Groesbeck picked it up at the 21.

On the Patriots’ next possession, Quinlan picked off a Gwinner pass after it slipped through the hands of a Schenectady receiver. The Hornets took over near midfield, and after some hard running by sophomore Zaire Ashley, Walker-Jones scored an easy one-yard touchdown to give the Hornets a 21-0 lead going into the break.

Four minutes into the second half, Gwinner threw his second interception, this time to Jeff Martin. Again at midifeld, the Hornets methodically ran the ball all the way to the one, and on fourth-down-and-goal, Wittig ran the bootleg to the right side for the score and a 28-0 F-M lead.

The Patriots finally got on the board after Rodriguez broke a 44-yard run for the score. Gwinner ran the ball in for two, and the Hornets’ lead slimmed to 20. But F-M responded with a three-play, 76-yard drive and touchdown. Wittig heaved a 53-yard pass to Krizman, and Walker-Jones later pushed his way into the end zone for his second touchdown of the night and a 35-8 lead.

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