Oct 19, 2013 Phil Blackwell Uncategorized
Whatever else could be said about the Cazenovia football team, it’s safe to assume that it was not in a sharing mood when it ventured to Vernon-Verona-Sherrill on Saturday afternoon.
Knowing that a defeat would create a three-way tie for the Class B East division title, the Lakers, with a tremendous fourth-quarter surge, rallied to beat the Red Devils 27-17 and claim another outright league championship.
In addition to those league honors, Cazenovia, no. 4 in the latest state Class B rankings, finished another undefeated regular season, and will take that 7-0 mark into next Saturday’s opening round of the Section III Class B playoffs against Cortland, the fourth-place finisher in Class B West.
Though it had mostly slid under the radar this fall, VVS had quietly built a 4-1 league record and 5-1 overall mark, creating the drama that involved the Lakers, Red Devils and Oneida, who was 5-1 in league play after Mexico, low in numbers of healthy players, forfeited Friday’s game with the Indians.
And it was VVS striking first, burning Cazenovia’s pass defense less than four minutes into the game after the Lakers fumbled on its opening drive. On third-and-short on his own 40-yard line, Christian Tiffin threw over the middle and found a wide-open Adam Nell for a 60-yard touchdown.
Down 6-0 after the extra point was blocked, the Lakers turned to a new running threat, Dan Phillips, who used two long carries to set up his own 12-yard scoring run. That, plus Carter Woodworth’s extra point, put Cazenovia in front 7-6.
Late in the second quarter, Carter Wozniak’s 20-yard TD run extended the Lakers’ edge to 14-6, but the lead didn’t last. Aided by a personal foul penalty, VVS saw Ryan Oliver sprint 20 yards for a TD, and Tiffin’s two-point pass to Chris Beavo created a 14-14 tie.
Beavo wasn’t done, returning a punt 33 yards right before halftime to set up what looked like an unlikely 45-yard field-goal try from the Red Devils’ Zach Durant. But the kick cleared the uprights, Durant breaking his own school record (39 yards), and VVS took a 17-14 edge to the break.
Through a scoreless third quarter, neither side could move the ball much, at least until Kevin Hopsicker, with two plays, turned everything around.
First, Hopsicker found Ryman Seeley for a 33-yard pass on the last play of the period to take the ball deep out of Cazenovia territory. Then, on the first play of the fourth quarter, Hopsicker kept the ball on the option and was gone, 50 yards to the end zone for the go-ahead TD.
Suddenly with a 21-17 lead, the Lakers turned the matter to its defense, twice getting turnovers deep in VVS territory. The second of them set up Carter Woodworth’s one-yard scoring plunge that clinched the win – along with a league title.
Cazenovia faces a Cortland side that went 3-4 in the regular season, but was close in losses to playoff-bound Marcellus (19-14) and Westhill (10-6). A Laker win would bring a rematch in the semifinals against either VVS or Marcellus, the two teams that played Cazenovia the closest in the regular season.