Whether at home or away, and whether it involved plenty of points or few, championship quests for three area high school football teams all ended in the opening round of the Section III playoffs.
In Class B, Marcellus, having worked so hard to earn a playoff home game, saw its six-game win streak snapped with an 18-7 defeat to Oneida, while Westhill traveled to Vernon-Verona-Sherrrill and lost to the Red Devils by a nearly identical 19-7 margin
Meanwhile, in Class C, Jordan-Elbridge offered plenty of entertainment in its first-round game against Utica-Notre Dame, but could not quite keep up with the Jugglers in a 36-27 defeat.
When it scored in the final minute to beat Westhill on Oct. 12, Marcellus secured that playoff home game, but all of that drama may have taken something out of the Mustangs. Plus, it was dealing with an Oneida side steaming from back-to-back defeats to Cazenovia and VVS.
Here, the Indians showed the same quality that had produced a 5-0 start to the season, its defense keeping Marcellus off the board for the first three quarters.
The Mustangs also had a terrific defensive effort, blanking Oneida and keeping the game close after Steven Barrett had scored on a 39-yard run in the first quarter.
It was still 6-0 when, early in the final period, the Indians moved to the Marcellus 10, from where Lukas Albro found Vinny Leibl in the end zone.
Now trailing by double digits, the Mustangs briefly created a scare when Rob Seeley dashed 57 yards for a TD. On Oneida’s next play from scrimmage, though, Albro, from his own 27, took off up the left sidelines and outran Marcellus defenders 73 yards to the end zone.
Oneida advanced to the sectional semifinals to face Cazenovia, and so did VVS, who thwarted Westhill and, by doing so, earned an opportunity to challenge unbeaten, state no. 2-ranked Skaneateles in the next round.
What made this result so frustrating for Westhill was that, throughout this game, it moved the ball well, at least through the air. Garvin Kinney completed 18 of 27 passes for 178 yards.
And it was Kinney producing the Warriors’ lone points late in the second quarter when he threw a nine-yard scoring pass to Tom Howard. The extra point had Westhill in front, 7-6, going into halftime.
Throughout the second half, though, VVS’s defense thwarted the Warriors’ plans. Led by Alex Kipp and Mike Guertin (nine tackles apiece), the Red Devils did a solid job containing Westhill’s ground game, Marcus Welch held to just 33 yards on 11 carries.
VVS finally took the lead in the fourth quarter, driving deep into Westhill territory and had Ty Rotach finish it with back-to-back TD runs of two yards.
In the Class C sectional playoffs, Jordan-Elbridge took on Utica-Notre Dame at Utica College, and the Eagles were done in by a trio of big plays from the Jugglers early and late.
UND took a 6-0 lead when Treijen Garertt, from his own 39, threw deep and found Zach Brush, who went 61 yards for the TD.
Answering, the Eagles pulled off a neat trick play with a double reverse that Geoff Lippa capped off by throwing 40 yards to Nate Melfi for a touchdown, the extra point inching J-E in front 7-6.
From there, J-E was unable to score until the fourth quarter, and UND moved back in front as Garrett and Isaac Czarnecki both scored on short runs, the latter of them set up by a Jeremiah Sparks fumble.
Seeking to atone for that mistake, Sparks would help pull the Eagles within 20-14 early in the fourth quarter, throwing a 23-yard TD pass to Melfi. Seconds later, though, the Jugglers restored its two-score margin with Garrett breaking loose on a 65-yard scoring dash.
They traded turnovers in the final minutes. With 1:25 left, the Eagles turned a turnover into points when Sparks found a wide-open Melfi in the end zone from 23 yards out, which made it 28-21.
J-E tried an onside kick, but the Jugglers fell on it, and when Garrett went on a 50-yard scoring dash, UND clinched a sectional semifinal berth against General Brown.
Before all this, Solvay, whose narrow September defeats to Marcellus and Westhill denied it a long-awaited post-season return, reached the .500 mark last Thursday night in a Class B crossover game, beating Central Valley Academy 28-7.
A 21-point first quarter was all the Bearcats needed. Twice, Blake Bagozzi connected on TD passes, going 48 yards to Jaimen Bliss and 24 yards to Russ Tarbell after Bliss scored on a one-yard plunge.
Bagozzi, who was nine-of-14 for 169 yards through the air, added a second TD pass to Tarbell that covered 36 yards in the second quarter. Connor Lee caught three passes for 67 yards as Ethan Bigelow made all four of his extra-point attempts.
Bishop Ludden hosted Camden on Friday in another crossover game and took a 19-13 defeat to the Blue Devils.
Trailing 19-0 at halftime, the Gaelic Knights made a third-quarter charge as Tamir Rowser scored on a 50-yard run and Antwon McMullen had a six-yard TD sprint. Yet Camden kept Ludden off the board in the fourth quarter and held on.