Sep 05, 2009 Phil Blackwell Uncategorized
Form appeared to dictate that the Bishop Ludden football team, winners of 21 of its last 22 games, would go to Canastota Friday night, earn a typically impressive win, and move along in its quest to regain the Class C throne.
The Raiders, as it turned out, didn’t care one bit about the form – or how it was supposed to transpire.
When the fourth quarter started, Canastota was in front, on the brink of the biggest win in head coach Eric Van Slyke’s tenure.
Properly scared, the Gaelic Knights moved back in front and prevailed, 38-28 – but the Raiders had to leave the field feeling quite proud of how far it had come.
A season ago, Canastota was just 2-6. For every player that came back for 2009, the first motivation was to bring the Raiders back to an expanded (16 teams instead of eight) Class C playoff tournament.
Further motivation arrived in all the pre-season hype surrounding John Rooney, Omar Osbourne and the rest of the Gaelic Knights. Canastota listened, seethed – then went out and scared their noted visitors in green.
Canastota ran right at Ludden in its opening possession, with Sam Stagnitti and Jake LaBarre picking up the yards. LaBarre scored from eight yards out, and the Raiders were up 7-0.
Ludden answered with Osbourne’s three-yard TD run before the first quarter was done, and it got worse for the Raiders when Stagnitta went out with a leg injury, forcing LaBarre to assume more of the rushing burden.
After the Gaelic Knights took a 13-7 lead on Osbourne’s second three-yard TD run, LaBarre broke loose, going 66 yards for a touchdown. A missed extra point tied kept it at a 13-13 tie.
Rooney changed that in a big way. Within minutes of each other, he struck for two long TD passes – 65 yards to Mark DeAngelis, then 61 yards to Osbourne.
And now, with Ludden up 25-13 at halftime, the Raiders, burned by the Gaelic Knights’ trademark big plays, could have easily melted away.
It did not. Instead, Canastota dominated the third quarter, first with a 91-yard, 10-play drive that ended with LaBarre’s two-yard TD run, then a shorter march where Zach Zupan traded carries with LaBarre.
When Zupan scored on a one-yard plunge and LaBarre added a two-point conversion, Canastota pushed ahead 28-25, and the home crowd was roaring.
Here, Ludden, forced to show championship poise in early September, did so – and Rooney was the spark.
For the third time on the night, Rooney threw a deep touchdown pass, 46 yards to DeAngelis, to put the Gaelic Knights ahead for good at 31-28. Following a defensive stop, Ludden regained the ball and moved to Canastota’s five-yard line, from where Rooney ran in for the clincher.
For the night, Rooney completed just eight passes, but they went for 229 yards. Osbourne added 107 yards on the ground, but never broke big runs against the Raiders’ defense. LaBarre had 140 rushing yards on 17 carries.
Ludden gets another non-league test back home this Friday against traditional Class D power Onondaga, who started by beating LaFayette/Fabius-Pompey 34-6.
Canastota plays on Saturday at Cazenovia, who blasted Altmar-Parish-Williamstown 49-0 in its opener – the Lakers yet another Class C power that might find the Raiders a tougher foe than they might expect.