Sep 28, 2013 Phil Blackwell Uncategorized
More than three long and painful years after it started, the Solvay football team got an opportunity to celebrate something that was once quite regular for them – a victory.
The Bearcats, whose 26-game skid was the longest in New York State, finally prevailed on Friday afternoon, going to Phoenix and beating the Firebirds by a score of 27-19.
Elsewhere in local Class B West action, Marcellus moved to 3-1, defeating Cortland 19-14, while Westhill took a 41-7 defeat to unbeaten Homer.
None of those games, though, had the emotional resonance of what took place in Phoenix. Since winning its first game of the 2010 season, Solvay had endured defeat after defeat, a once-glorious program reeling and forced to rebuild from scratch.
But the work of head coach Matt Shutts and his staff is starting to pay off, from success at the junior varsity level to games where the Bearcats were far more competitive, including a 40-32 defeat to Marcellus in the Sept. 8 opener at the Carrier Dome.
Even when Solvay suffered a 48-6 home defeat to neighbor and rival Westhill a week ago, the players did not wallow in despair, instead putting in another week of hard work that, at Phoenix, would bring a long-awaited payoff.
The Bearcats and Firebirds traded scoring drives in the first quarter, Solvay getting on the board with Devlin White’s four-yard touchdown run. Even though Nick Cometti scored on a one-yard plunge in the second period, Solvay still trailed, 19-14, at halftime.
Here was where the Bearcats’ defense took over. Making a stand, Solvay took away anything that Phoenix tried to establish, forcing punts and turnovers on downs to give the offense ample opportunities to pull in front.
And that’s what Solvay did, seizing a 20-19 edge in the third quarter when quarterback Brandon Franklin scored from one yard out. Though the two-point try failed, the Bearcats would drive again in the fourth quarter, and Cometti tacked on his second TD on a four-yard run, Josh Marotti converting the extra point.
So Solvay, at long last, had a happy evening – something that Marcellus is more used to, but this win at Cortland proved particularly timely in the wake of squandering a 21-point lead to Cazenovia the week before.
If nothing else, the Purple Tigers made sure that the Mustangs didn’t build any sort of advantage, the two sides scuffling through a scoreless first quarter.
Then, early in the second period, Marcellus moved down to Cortland’s seven, from where Tom Keegan found tight end Mike Hastings for the TD. A big play evened it for the Purple Tigers as Caden Giroux went deep for a 64-yard scoring strike to Nate Kinsey.
They were still tied, 7-7, in the third quarter when, from the Purple Tigers’ 29, Keegan floated a perfect pass that Tom Fiacchi caught in the end zone, the missed conversion leaving it at 13-7. Zach Whelan answered early in the final period for Cortland, scoring from six yards out.
Now trailing 14-13, the Mustangs put together a clutch drive, working its way to Corltand’s three before Keegan scrambled for the TD – the go-ahead score, as turned out.
Westhill could only wish for a similar result as it tried to upend state no. 8-ranked Homer, only to get run over as the Trojans bolted out to a 34-0 halftime lead, deciding matters early.
Trying to establish a passing game early, the Warriors saw that strategy backfire when Jake Hayes returned Reed Derrenbacher’s pass 35 yards for a touchdown in the first quarter
Going to its dependable ground game, the Trojans made it 20-0 as Alec Bush scored on a seven-yard sprint and a larger 61-yard end-zone dash. Then Homer’s Jayden Gavidia caught short passes from Drew Cottrell and, with lots of moves, turned them into TD plays of 41 and 40 yards.
Later, in the third quarter, Chris Brown brought back another Westhill interception 34 yards for six points. Only Ja’Shai Jamison’s nine-yard TD in the third quarter prevented a shutout.
Now Solvay will have to take its shot at Homer this Friday, just as Westhill hosts Cortland and Marcellus visits Chittenango.