Oct 31, 2010 Phil Blackwell Uncategorized
No, it wasn’t just payback that the Oneida football team received in the wake of last Saturday night’s thrilling 28-27 overtime victory over archrival Vernon-Verona-Sherrill in the Section III Class B semifinals at Chittenango High School.
The Indians got something more – namely, an invitation to the Carrier Dome for Sunday’s Class B final against Cazenovia. And it got there by making two crucial decisions – one simple, the other far more complex.
Regulation ended with Oneida and VVS tied, 20-20, a stark contrast to the 33-6 beating the Red Devils gave the Indians two weeks earlier at Sheveron Field. And all those points had come in the first half, the two rivals settling into a tense stalemate in the last two periods, neither side able to break loose.
So it was now in overtime, where VVS had more experience – even though it amounted to a 51-45 defeat to Cazenovia on Sept. 25, the double-OT classic where an ankle injury sidelined quarterback Tyler Mautner, and without him the Red Devils turned it over on both of its possessions.
Mautner was there now, and going out for the coin toss. Oneida won it, and had to make its first decision. Like almost everyone in this situation, it chose to go on defense, to see what it would need.
Each OT possession begins on the opponent’s 20-yard line. Forced to go first, VVS smartly moved the ball to Oneida’s two-yard line, where Mautner hit Eli Cleveland on a short touchdown pass. Cole Barbano kicked the extra point.
Now it was the Indians’ turn. Six straight times, it ran the ball, moving toward the Red Devils’ one-yard line before Matt Barlow plowed in for the TD. It was Barlow’s 42nd carry of the night, amounting to 164 yards.
Now came Oneida coach Bill Carinci’s biggest decision. Chris Chesebro had made two of three extra points, but Carinci opted to risk the game, and the season, on a two-point attempt.
With the massive crowd on both sides roaring, Matt Mosack again handed off to Barlow. Despite all the VVS attempts to stop him, Barlow worked until he stuck the ball inches past the goal line, sending the Indians to the championship game.
In all, Oneida and VVS have played 62 times, but rarely in a game as dramatic as this one.
On its first possession, the Red Devils went 69 yards in 11 plays, ending with Collin Way’s one-yard TD plunge. Then the Indians got on the board early in the second period, Barlow’s runs setting up Mosack throwing a 16-yard scoring pass to Eric Riley.
It didn’t stay 7-7 for long. Though Matt Sliker’s long TD run got disallowed by a penalty, VVS still moved to Oneida’s seven-yard line, from where Silker converted to put the Red Devils back in front.
Late in the half, it really got wild. With 2:03 left, Mosack threw deep – and found Riley, who grabbed the ball away from a Red Devils defender and finished off a 64-yard TD play, tying it again at 14-14.
On the very next play from scrimmage, Sliker, who had a career-high 235 yards on 20 carries, broke free down the left side for a 73-yard scoring run that put his team up 20-14.
A big moment came on the last play of the half. Forced to throw deep from the Red Devils’ 44, Mosack somehow lofted it over the VVS defenders – and into the hands of Shawn Ano, who finished off a TD that, despite a blocked extra point, made it 20-20 going into the break.
All through the third and fourth quarters, Oneida and VVS would get chances to move ahead, only to turn the ball over or make a key defensive stop.
That led to OT – and a particularly painful ending for VVS, who graduates a massive senior class, including Mautner, Way and Tyler Curtis, and might find it difficult to contend again in 2011.
Meanwhile, Oneida will face Cazenovia in the Class B final at the Carrier Dome Sunday at 5 p.m. The Lakers needed a safety in the final two minutes to escape 16-14, in the other semifinal. Between them, Oneida (in 2008) and Cazenovia (2006 and ’07) have combined for three of the last four sectional championships.