A Friday night of excitement and constant shifts in momentum had, for the Jordan-Elbridge football team, boiled down to one play.
Southern Hills was inside the Eagles’ 10-yard line, trailing by seven points. If the Storm could score a touchdown, the conversion decision could force overtime, or decide, through a two-point try, whether J-E or Southern Hills secured a Section III Class C playoff berth.
But an Eagles defense that struggled through much of the night came through as Nate Melfi intercepted Jake Edinger’s pass in the end zone, and J-E had won, 41-34, locking up its post-season trip and rewarding the work senior quarterback Dominic Walborn had done throughout his last regular-season home appearance.
To start with, Walborn drove the Eagles 76 yards in eight plays to Aidan Carpenter’s two-yard TD run midway through the first quarter. Then, after Dante Cuttino dashed 56 yards to get Southern Hills (a combined team from Tully, LaFayette and Fabius-Pompey) on the board, the real fun began.
From his own 18 early in the second period, Walborn threw deep – and found Jeremiah Spark, who outran Storm defenders 82 yards to the end zone. That was needed, because Southern Hills answered with another long scoring play from Cuttino, this one 58 yards, and Edinger scoring from 16 yards out late in the half.
Down 20-13 at the break, J-E again turned to its offense, seeing Walborn lead one drive that he capped off with a one-yard scoring plunge and, after a Storm fumble on the ensuing kickoff, putting the Eagles in front with a 14-yard TD run.
Now it was Southern Hills’ turn to rally, helped by a block punt that set up a Cuttino touchdown. The exchange continued early in the fourth quarter, with the Eagles getting a 47-yard scoring pass from Walborn to Brandon Wick and the Storm tying it, 27-27, on Edinger’s nine-yard run with 7:01 left.
Gambling that it could catch the Eagles off guard, Southen Hills tried an onside kick, but J-E recovered. The short field led to a patient march, mostly on the ground, that Walborn capped when he found the end zone from 11 yards out with 1:50 to play.
Edinger tried for a third Storm comeback in the second half with a long run inside J-E’s 20, plus a penalty that sent the ball inside the 10. J-E’s nerves were not settled until Melfi’s timely interception.
While J-E was glad just to be in the post-season, Bishop Ludden, with its 5-0 record and no. 9 state Class D ranking, knew it was playoff-bound before Saturday’s non-league game at Clinton.
Still, the Gaelic Knights did not get caught looking ahead to its D West regular-season championship showdown with Onondaga next Friday, as it beat Clinton 35-13 largely on the basis of its 21-point first quarter.
It didn’t take long for the passing combination of Sh’ikem Lee and Joe Connor to click, as Lee found Connor for a 70-yard scoring pass midway through the first quarter. Then the Warriors fumbled the ensuing kickoff and, a minute later, Tamir Rower made it 14-0 with a four-yard TD run.
Connor’s long punt return set up ZeVion Derby’s 13-yard sprint to the end zone with 1:38 left in the opening period. Already, the Gaelic Knights had all the points it needed, but it kept going.
Lee, who made all five of the extra points he attempted, threw a 25-yard scoring pass to Terrance Blatche that made it 28-0 with 2:37 left in the half. Repeating what they did in the first quarter, Lee hit Connor on a second 70-yard TD connection in the opening seconds of the third period.
West Genesee attempted to keep its post-season dreams alive at Corcoran last Friday night, but saw the Cougars start out fast, and then pull away late, as the Wildcats took a 35-14 defeat.
Corcoran was still alive in the race for the Class AA-1 regular-season title and a first-round home playoff game. Both came within reach for the Cougars because it burned WG for 21 first-quarter points.
Khalil Robinson got it going with a 68-yard scoring pass to Paul Porch. Robinson scored from three yards out a few minutes later, and Corcoran’s defense struck when Khemeron Robinson returned a Liam Barry interception 32 yards to the end zone.
Despite all this, the Wildcats got back in the game in the middle stages. Barry led a drive that led to a six-yard scoring pass to Ben Rustay that made it 21-7 at halftime, and WG got closer when Barry and Rustay again connected on a scoring pass from 12 yards out in the third quarter.
From there, though, the Cougars’ defense contained the Wildcats, and the earlier margin got restored when Jaquail Everson scored on a seven-yard run before Khalil Robinson had an eight-yard TD dash.
The Wildcats’ regular season concludes next Saturday against Henninger, who started 0-5 before a win last week at Watertown.