Sep 08, 2013 Phil Blackwell Uncategorized
Two neighbors and rivals came to the Carrier Dome Sunday to renew the football battle for the Tom Anthony Silver Cup, with Marcellus fighting to hold on to it and Solvay fighting just as hard to take it back and end its long period in the gridiron wilderness.
And it would go back and forth for a long while before the Mustangs pulled ahead for keeps in the third quarter, and then held on to defeat the gritty Bearcats 40-32 in the Kickoff Classic.
More than the Silver Cup was at stake. So was the 23-game losing streak that had come to define a once-proud Solvay program, a three-year-long skid that the Bearcats, with a larger roster in 2013 and renewed energy, was bent on erasing.
The opening drive appeared to mark Solvay’s new beginning. From its own 37, it pounded away at the ground, mostly on runs from Nick Cometti and Brandon Franklin.
Then, on third-down-and-15 from the Mustangs’ 35, Franklin found Devlin White in stride for a 35-yard touchdown, and Josh Marotti’s extra point put the Bearcats ahead 7-0.
Marcellus didn’t blink, promptly going 67 yards on its own opening drive, mixing up runs and throws until quarterback Tom Keegan scrambled six yards for the TD. But the PAT was blocked, and so Solvay still clung to a 7-6 edge.
Solvay wasted little time finding the end zone again. Cometti’s impressive 37-yard run, where he dragged Mustang defenders more than 10 yards before going down, led to White bursting up the middle 16 yards for six points. It was 14-6 after Marotti his his second PAT.
Again the Mustangs responded, this time with a big run as Ian McGloon, on a sweep from midfield, broke through the line and outraced the Solvay defenders 50 yards for the score in the last minute of the opening period. A missed two-point attempt kept Solvay in front 14-12.
On the first play of the second quarter, White fumbled at the Mustangs’ 43, and Cole Walsh recovered. Twice on the ensuing drive, Keegan converted fourth-down plays with a pass to Wyatt Stehle and a quarterback sneak, setting up his second TD run, a nine-yard run up the middle, and a Ross Filtch PAT.
Marcellus had its first lead at 19-14, but in the waning seconds of the half Solvay, without a time-out, moved 58 yards in just two plays. A pass to Cody Pucello, plus a roughing-the-passer penalty, led to Franklin finding a wide-open Devlin for a 27-yard scoring reception, Devlin’s third TD of the game.
The Bearcats’ 20-19 lead, and its improved level of play on the offensive side, was already a large leap over anything it had done the last three years. The question now was whether it could be sustained for two more periods.
Marcellus was eager to disappoint the Solvay faithful, taking the second-half kickoff and zipping down the field for a 64-yard march. Keegan, from the Bearcats’ 25, found Will Coon on a swing pass and, sprung by a great downfield block from Mike Hastings, went the rest of the way for the score.
That 26-20 lead lasted barely two minutes. White struck again for Solvay by blowing through a big hole on the left side 45 yards for his fourth TD, but the missed extra point meant they were tied, 26-26.
Not even a minute later, Marcellus broke the tie, going 73 yards this time around on effective sideline passes before McGloon netted his second touchdown on a 13-yard run.
Just as importantly, Drew Mosher recovered a Solvay fumble at the Bearcats’ 43 and, one play later, Keegan went back to Coon on another swing pass to the same side that worked earlier. Hurdling a potential tackle and staying in bounds, Coon went the rest of the way for a TD.
Suddenly, Marcellus had a 40-26 edge as Hastings added a two-point conversion, and its defense stuffed Solvay until the waning minutes.
Battling to the end, the Bearcats got a 47-yard pass from Franklin to Cometti set up Franklin’s own one-yard TD sneak with 1:48 left.
Out of time-outs, Solvay had to recover the onside kick – and did. Aided by a Mustang penalty, the Bearcats found itself on the Marcellus 33, with a real chance to get the touchdown and two-point conversion it needed to force overtime.
However, three plays netted just five yards, making it fourth-and-five at the 29. Finally, Mike Keegan broke up Franklin’s pass attempt with 1:19 left, and the relieved Mustangs ran out the clock.
Now with a short week to prepare, the Mustangs pay a visit to Westhill Friday night in what’s shaping up as a key game early in the Class B West race. Solvay, meanwhile, tries again for that elusive victory when it visits Cortland for a 7 p.m. kickoff.