Oct 02, 2010 Phil Blackwell Uncategorized
One night, and one negative result, might have put an end to the Westhill football team’s long reign atop the Class B West division.
The Warriors fell, 21-14, to Homer Friday night, and in doing so fell into a three-way tie for first place in the division with the Trojans and Marcellus, who defeated South Jefferson 14-6 in a non-league contest at home.
Westhill had risen to no. 2 in the state Class B rankings with a 4-0 start. Meanwhile, Homer had gone through September at 3-1, its only blemish a 33-20 loss to Marcellus.
With the division lead at stake, the Warriors got off to an ideal start, forcing an interception and going 65 yards for the game’s first touchdown, Mark McAnaney covering the final 13 yards on a pass to Nathan Nigolian.
And those would be the only points of the first half, though Westhill had a real chance to seize control when it drove to Homer’s one-yard line, mixing in runs by R.J. Chester and Matt Trendowski.
Instead of going to the ground to punch it in, though, the Warriors decided on a throw – and Homer’s Hunter Osborne picked off McAnaney in the end zone. It wouldn’t be the last time Osborne would hurt Westhill.
Still up 7-0 in the third quarter, Westhill got forced back to its own one-yard line by a well-placed Trojans punt, and Homer’s Cody Sandy made a tackle in the end zone for a safety to get his team on the board.
Getting the ball back, Homer drove down and went ahead, 9-6, on Andy Parker’s two-yard TD run. Then Osborne returned, burning Westhill for a second interception that he brought back 28 yards for a crucial six points.
Homer kept adding to its margin with a drive that took up a large chunk of the fourth quarter before Parker, who had 21 carries for 87 yards, scored from two yards out with less than three minutes left to make it 21-7.
Only big plays could save Westhill now – and Nigolian provided one when he returned the ensuing kickoff 82 yards for a touchdown.
Chester’s second extra point cut the margin to seven. Then he executed a perfect onside kick that the Warriors recovered, and suddenly there was a chance to pull it out.
McAnaney smartly moved his team to Homer’s 11-yard line. Three straight incomplete passes led to fourth down, where McAnaney went for Nigolian, who already had eight catches for 132 yards. Osborne had perfect coverage, though, and forced one more incompletion to end it.
This news was greeted with utter delight in Marcellus, which now finds itself with a real chance to win the B West division’s top seed for the upcoming playoffs.
Of course, the Mustangs first had to take care of South Jefferson, which didn’t prove that easy, despite a fast start by the offense.
Less than a minute into the game, it was 6-0, the Spartans turning it over deep in its own end and Kyle Hastings going 12 yards for the touchdown a few seconds later.
Duncan Merritt’s 11-yard TD run made it 14-0 in the second quarter, and Ricky Alfreds had another fine night on the ground, earning 151 yards on 20 carries.
For every good play, though, Marcellus hurt itself with penalties and other mental errors that thwarted chances to put South Jefferson away.
The Mustangs got shut out in the second half, and when Tom Gordinier hit Kenny Hall on a 62-yard TD pass in the fourth quarter, the outcome suddenly was in doubt.
Yet the Marcellus defense would not allow anything more. Led again by the likes of Zach Wiley, Joe Felicia, Jason Decker and Steve Raven, the Mustangs preserved that lead as Wiley got a key late sack and Raven earned an interception in the end zone. Decker finished with a team-high eight tackles as Wiley contributed seven tackles.
Marcellus looks to stay tied for first when it visits Solvay (1-4) next Friday at 6:30, while Westhill hosts Phoenix, winners of two straight following an 0-3 start.