Not in a long time has the Westhill football team achieved a road win this important.
The Warriors went to Homer Friday night and, by withstanding a furious late comeback and making one clutch stop, beat the defending Section III Class B champion Trojans 20-19.
This improved Westhill’s record to 3-1, tied for second in Class B West with Marcellus, who got its own road win on Friday when it blanked Institute of Technology Central 28-0.
As if all that wasn’t enough for local fans to cheer, Solvay, so frustrated in close losses to Westhill and Marcellus in previous weeks, broke through by getting its own road shutout, a 26-0 victory over the Cortland Purple Tigers.
The big story was at Homer, though. Westhill had taken a 49-6 beating from Skaneateles the week before, somewhat taking the shine off its 2-0 start.
Yet it showed no erosion of confidence against the Trojans, twice scoring in the first quarter. Garvin Kinney threw a 14-yard touchdown pass to Jose Gonzalez, and after Homer tied it 7-7, Marcus Welch immediately answered with a 53-yard scoring dash, part of a game where he amassed 202 yards on 22 carries.
Things stayed that way until the third quarter, when Kinney, from his own 41, threw deep and found his fastest receiver, Tom Howard, who completed a 59-yard TD play. Kinney was 11-for-18 for 133 yards, with Howard catching five of those passes for 97 yards to go with a 61-yard run.
But Mark Vaughn, who made his first two extra points, did not convert this time. So it was 20-7 going to the fourth quarter, and Homer wasn’t done.
Andrew VanPatten finished off one drive with a seven-yard TD run and, as time wound down, the Trojans, trailing 20-13, drove again. Dylan Yacavone threw a 32-yard scoring pass to Zach Mallory with less than two minutes left.
With the margin one, the Trojans decided to go for two points and a possible win. An incomplete pass was negated when Westhill was penalized for roughing Yacavone, giving Homer a second chance, but when it decided to run, nose tackle Todd Sanford stopped it short of the goal line.
Out of time-outs, the Trojans had to attempt an onside kick, and the Warriors recovered it, able to run out the clock from there.
Marcellus, as it turns out, faces Homer next Friday, doing so in the wake of a tremendous performance against ITC at Henninger High School’s Sunnycrest Field where it kept the Eagles off the board and scored once in each quarter.
Brayton Johnson got it going with a 29-yard TD pass to Liam Tierney. Later, Tierney would add a third-quarter score as he carried the ball seven times for 46 yards.
Rob Seeley remained the Mustangs’ main threat on the ground, gaining 108 yards on 19 carries. His TD made it 14-0 at halftime, and then he scored again in the fourth quarter.
A week earlier, Marcellus had survived a fierce challenge from Solvay to keep the Tom Anthony Silver Cup. Not far from where Westhill upended Homer, the Bearcats let out a month’s work of frustration on Cortland.
All through the game, the Bearcats’ defense kept stifling the Purple Tigers, setting up good field position so that Solvay’s offense didn’t need to get too fancy.
Brock Bagozzi, who threw 54 times against Marcellus, only attempted 11 passes on this night, completing five of them for 76 yards. But that included TD passes of 36 yards to Russ Tarbell and nine yards to Connor Lee.
Jaimen Bliss scored first, on a one-yard plunge in the second quarter. Up 12-0 at halftime, the Bearcats all but put Cortland away when Tarbell snapped up a short third-quarter kickoff and returned it 55 yards for a TD.
It’s Bishop Ludden taking on Solvay next Friday, but first the Gaelic Knights had to make the daunting trip to Hyatt Stadium to deal with state no. 3-ranked Skaneateles, and had to wait until Saturday afternoon because of a weather postponement.
All that did, though, was push back the Lakers’ inevitable march over another opponent as it beat Ludden 35-0, combining the potent balance of its offense with a defense that frustrated the Gaelic Knight all game long.
Ludden did keep it quiet for nearly 10 minutes before Skaneateles got on the board with Areh Boni’s nine-yard TD run, and Boni would score again from 16 yards out early in the second quarter.
Penalties marred the rest of the half, each side getting testy, culminating in the ejection of a Gaelic Knights player for hitting the Lakers’ star quarterback, Pat Hackler, out of bounds.
Hackler responded with a short pass to Nick Wamp that turned into a 42-yard TD with 1:36 left in the half. That pair connected again from three yards out in the third quarter, and Hackler threw 10 yards to Nate Wellington for another TD in the final period.