Oct 21, 2008 Phil Blackwell Uncategorized
However much stress it might cause, the Marcellus football team does not mind plunging into a wild, high-scoring contest where the last team with possession tends to win.
That’s exactly what last Friday’s clash between the Mustangs and Solvay Bearcats at Earl Hadley Stadium turned into — an instant classic with seven lead changes as the two long-time rivals sparred for the Tom Anthony Memorial Cup.
And it was Marcellus that would earn that final chance — and take full advantage of it, as the strong right arm and stronger poise of junior quarterback Will Fiacchi pushed the Mustangs past Solvay 33-32.
With that win, Marcellus not only turned back a long-time nemesis at its home field called “The Pit”, it also clinched a first-round home playoff game, as the Mustangs finished second to Westhill in the Class B West division with a 4-1 league mark (6-1 overall).
As Marcellus celebrated its exciting win, Solvay had to wonder what kind of bad fortune would come next. The Bearcats are 3-4, and two of those defeats were one-point decisions — to Marcellus here, and to Homer back on Sept. 26 (a 27-26 defeat that time).
Given that it had allowed 46 points to Westhill the week before, the Bearcats were bent on going after Fiacchi in some kind of way to make him uncomfortable.
That did not work out, as Fiacchi threw 31 times, completing 18 passes for 228 yards and three touchdowns. He tossed the ball to five different receivers, with A.J. Mitchell (five catches, 62 yards) getting the most attention.
Again, sophomore running back Ricky Alfreds made sure the Solvay defense did not just try to stop Fiacchi. Alfreds carried the ball 17 times for 139 yards as a perfect counterbalance. C.J. Nye led the Mustangs’ defense again, piling up 17 tackles.
Right away, the exchanges began. Fiacchi threw a one-yard touchdown pass to Scott Cotter for the only points of the first quarter.
Everyone on the Mustangs’ defense would have problems, though, especially in trying to pressure Solvay quarterback Jonathon Orioli, who threw for 141 yards on 13-of-19 completions.
Orioli, early in the second quarter, hit Anthohy Liquori for a TD, and at two-point pass from Orioli to Tom Hayes got Solvay its first lead at 8-6.
Another exchanged followed. Marcellus would go to Fiacchi again as threw a second TD, 19 yards to Mitchell, but Orioli and Hayes would respond with a pair of scoring passes — one from 20 yards, the other from 22 yards. Both times, they made the two-point coversion.
Staring at a 24-12 deficit early in the third quarter, Marcellus did not panic. Instead, it drove to the Bearcats’ goal line in the third period and had Alfreds score from one yard out, and another drive ended exactly the same way, Alfreds’ second TD putting Marcellus back into a 27-24 lead early in the fourth quarter.
Yet again, Solvay would push back, moving the ball smartly into the Mustangs’ end. Orioli would finish the march, going 14 yards for a TD and firing a two-point pass to Liquori.
Solvay now led 32-27, and only needed to hang on. But as time wound down, Fiacchi showed unflappable poise as he steadily marched the Mustangs down the field.
This drive reached the Bearcats’ 18, and there wasn’t much time to win it. Knowing this, with 23 seconds left Fiacchi threw deep over the middle. Though well-covered, Dan Rudy hauled the ball down in the end zone with 23 seconds left for the game-winning points.
By winning this, Marcellus comes home Friday night to meet Chittenango (4-3) in the opening round of the Class B playoffs, while Solvay visits B West champion Oneida in its first-round game. Both contests start at 7 p.m.
Oneida won the B East regular-season title, going 4-0 in league play (6-1 overall), and feature a potent attack anchored by senior quarterback Ryan Kramer and running back Rick Rossi. Chittenango has sputtered on offense since senior quarterback Jon Stevens went down with a broken leg in the Bears’ loss to Oneida on Oct. 3. The winners of these games get each other in next weekend’s semifinal round.