Baldwinsville defensive back E.J. Edmonds (23) tips a pass and ultimately gets the interception in the first quarter of last Friday’s game against Cicero-North Syracuse, leading to a touchdown. Despite two turnovers that led to touchdowns, the Bees still lost, 67-31, to the Northstars.
Something rather remarkable was accomplished by the Baldwinsville football team during the first half of Friday night’s highly-anticipated showdown with Cicero-North Syracuse at Bragman Stadium.
Against a Northstars defense that had only allowed 27 points all season, the Bees got 31 points – in the first half, putting together three different scoring drives and twice capitalizing on C-NS turnovers.
And yet it still wasn’t enough against a high-octane attack that, time and again, burned B’ville with big plays and quick touchdowns, ultimately proving too much for the state Class AA no. 14-ranked Bees to handle as it took a 69-31 defeat to the state no. 8-ranked Northstars.
Led by the duo of quarterback Conner Hayes and tailback Erik Pride, C-NS found the end zone 10 times on this night, three times scoring in fourth-down situations and five times scoring on drives of one minute or less.
What made this game so exciting in the first half was that the Bees didn’t flinch when faced with adversity, which quickly arrived in the wake of Garrett Selover’s 35-yard field goal early in the first quarter. Even when it took a combined five plays to push the Northstars to a 14-3 lead on TD runs of 39 yards by Pride and 44 yards by Hayes, B’ville had an answer.
E.J. Edmonds’ interception set up the Bees’ first touchdown on Aquari Warner’s four-yard run. After Hayes threw a 28-yard scoring pass to Lukas Merluzzi on fourth down early in the second quarter, B’ville countered with Warner’s 54-yard sprint to set up Ben Dwyer’s one-yard scoring plunge.
The exchange made it 20-17, and when Jeremiah Willis fumbled the ensuing kickoff inside his own five and the Bees recovered, Warner scored from one yard out to give B’ville a 24-20 lead.
Pride’s second TD on a 17-yard run put C-NS back in front but, again, the Bees would strike back, turning a long Edmonds kick return into points when Dwyer found Gabe Horan in the end zone on a 12-yard scoring pass with 56.5 seconds left in the half.
That, of course, was still ample time for the Northstars, down 31-27, to get points before the break. What happened both proved that point, and robbed B’ville of all the momentum it had built throughout the first two perioed..
On the very next play from scrimmage, Hayes again sprinted into the B’ville secondary and didn’t get caught, a 57-yard TD sprint. What’s more, the Northstars’ Tom McDonald recovered the ensuing onside kick, and with just enough time C-NS converted again on Hayes’ 30-yard scoring pass to Merluzzi with two seconds left.
True, B’ville only trailed by eight points, 39-31, at the conclusion of this wild half, but those two touchdowns right before the break proved impossible to recover from. C-NS kept going, Pride scoring on an 11-yard run early in the third quarter and, on yet another fourth-down conversion, Hayes finding Shy’rel Bridgewater on a nine-yard TD pass.
Pride would score once more on an 11-yard run on the first play of the fourth quarter as Willis, atoning for his earlier fumble, got the conversion to push the point total to 60 and then dashed 58 yards for one more touchdown with 8:49 left.
Despite all this, the Bees could assure itself a first-round sectional Class AA playoff game if it beat Nottingham this Friday at Pelcher-Arcaro Stadium. Kickoff is at 6:30.