Sep 21, 2013 Phil Blackwell Uncategorized
A combination of necessity and performance sent the Baldwinsville football team into a place few of its long-time followers could recall seeing during Friday night’s exciting Class AA-2 division opener at Fayetteville-Manlius.
Gone were the pound-it-out, eat-up-the-clock, dominate-the-line-of scrimmage aspects of the Bees’ familiar ground attack. Instead, quarterback Gage Blasi was rolling out, throwing it short and long, and finding success for the most part.
This total personality change nearly worked, too, but the Hornets, who lost a 38-36 thriller to B’ville last fall in the Section III Class AA semifinals, got a bit of payback, answering every Bees charge and prevailing by a 49-37 margin.
Blasi attempted 24 passes, completing 15 of them for 355 yards, which made up for the Hornets holding star tailback Ricky Sparks to just 51 yards on 18 carries. Yet still it wasn’t enough.
It was F-M who entered the game with the no. 12 state Class AA ranking and an attack that, under first-year head coach Damien Rhodes, had scored 98 points in its first two games.
And it took just 14 seconds for the Hornets to add to that total. Taking the opening kickoff at his own 10-yard line near the sideline, Luke Krizman, who missed that playoff game a year ago due to a broken collarbone, sped up the field, picked up a wall of blockers and went all the way for a 90-yard touchdown.
From there, F-M never trailed, but B’ville didn’t go away, either. This pattern started to unfold after the Hornets seized a 14-0 lead early in the first quarter. Blasi’s pair of long passes to tight end Mike Yorkey set up his own one-yard scoring run, and the chase was on.
Twice in the first half, the Hornets stretched out its lead to double digits as Jake Wittig found Jack Wilson on scoring passes of five and 30 yards. Both times, the Bees rode Blasi’s right arm down the field to scoring drives capped by short TD runs of six yards by Sparks and three yards by Blasi.
Still trailing 28-20 at halftime, the Bees cut the gap to five on Tom Scarfino’s 32-yard field goal late in the third quarter, which ignited a frantic sequence that nearly put the Bees in front.
A 23-yard pass to Krizman set up Jake Pulver’s five-yard TD run, but on the next play from scrimmage, Blasi went deep and found Cameron Skipworth on a 62-yard scoring pass, making it 35-30, and the Bees recovered the ensuing squib kick.
Here, though, F-M’s beleaguered defense finally made a stand, turning it over on downs, and a series of runs from Jake Pulver, including a 35-yard scamper set up Wittig’s scrambling five-yard TD pass to Zaire Ashley with 7:10 to play.
Three more Blasi passes – two of them to Mitch Rein – got the Bees back within five as Sparks, who had struggled to find space all game against F-M’s fast front seven, scored his second TD with 4:15 to play on a five-yard run.
That made it 42-37, at least until Krizman delivered on his second spectacular play of the night, one that ultimately put the game out of the Bees’ reach.
F-M faced a third-down-and-seven on its own 42 with 3:15 left. At first, it looked like Wittig’s throw to Krizman near the midfield stripe would fulfill the task of picking up a first down and keeping the clock moving.
But Krizman had other plans. He took off down the sideline, picking up some blocks downfield, and then cut back to the middle, fighting off the tackle attempts from B’ville’s secondary and battling past the goal line for a 58-yard touchdown.
Moments later, Wittig, who had thrown four TD passes and made all seven of his extra-point attempts, intercepted Blasi’s long pass in the end zone, the Bees’ lone turnover of the night, and F-M ran out the clock.
B’ville returns to Pelcher-Arcaro Stadium this Friday night to face Rome Free Academy (2-1), who is coming off its own memorable comeback from a 26-point deficit to stun main rival Utica Proctor 47-46 in overtime. Kickoff is at 6:30.