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September 5, 2009

 

Trojans pull out win over CHS

Fourth quarter Hall TD the difference

Football

Joe McIntyre/staff photographer
Homer Central’s Connor Ferrito heads upfield with Cortland High’s Shakief Rivers (2) close behind in the second quarter at Butts Field Friday night. Homer pulled out a 35-28 victory over the visiting Tigers.

By TOM VARTANIAN
Staff Writer

It has been a long time coming for Logan Hall.
The Homer Central junior tailback spent two injury-filled football seasons on the junior varsity squad, but the rewards for patience were huge in front of a packed George Butts Field on Hall of Fame Night Friday.
Hall’s 14-yard touchdown run with 8:58 left in the fourth quarter were the only points of the second half as the Trojans defeated rival Cortland High 35-28 in the season-opener for both teams. He finished with 16 carries for 101 yards and two touchdowns.
“It was all in the O-Line,” Hall said modestly. “It was also the preparation the coaches did. I give all the credit to my offensive line.
“It feel so good,” he continued. “This is really my first game in Homer because I have been injured most of the last two years. It’s all about helping the team win. That’s what it’s all about for me.”
The Trojans took the Home-Cort Jug for a victory lap around Butts Field because of some halftime adjustments defensively and the power running game of Jake Morris, who gained 113 yards on 19 carries all after intermission. His fresh legs helped wear down the Cortland defense.
The Trojans had the ball over 16 minutes in the second half, 8:46 the time of possession in the fourth quarter alone. Homer amassed 537 yards in total offense while Cortland netted 393 yards.
“We are not a one-dimensional team, we have a lot of different weapons,” said Homer coach Gary Podsiedlik. “We had a couple of let-ups on the defensive line rush while blitzing in the first half and Cortland got the big play because of it. We stumbled on the one play and the kid (Dyquann Barlow) broke out of a tackle on the other for touchdowns.
“Our kids really rose to the occasion when they needed to,” he continued. “The kids knew by the cadence from the quarterback if it would be a run or pass. They figured that out from practice and what was happening on the field. The kids did their homework. The kids played unified football on both sides of the ball.”
For Cortland coach Dave Darrow, it was a tough loss on the scoreboard and in personnel. Several players were hurt during the game.
Wide receiver Caleb Wright had a hamstring problem and left in the first half. Starting quarterback Shane McCaskill suffered a concussion in the second half. Dennis Gallagher popped his shoulder. Offensive center Cody Hartmann tweaked his knee during the game.
“It’s tough,” Darrow replied. “We lost some people tonight and that really hurt. We don’t have a lot of depth and that is a real problem.”
THE PURPLE TIGERS moved the ball down the field, but had trouble punching it in in the red zone. Twice Homer stopped possessions near the goal-line and Demitrius Nelson atoned for a couple mistakes by picking off a two errant Cortland passes.
“We had plays to score,” Darrow responded. “We just didn’t make the right reads a couple of times. There is a lot of pressure on the quarterback in this offense. He has a lot of reads.
“There was not a whole lot we could have done differently,” he added. “We just needed to make some more plays. This was a tough game. We just came up short.”
While Homer used the running game to control the second half, it was wide open offensively in the first half.
Alex Stacy picked off John Sciera’s first pass of the game and gave the Purple Tigers the ball at the Homer 29-yard line. Stacy (14 carries-95 yards) run the ball to the Trojan two on the first offensive play, but the Homer defense held and took the ball over at their one three-yard line.
Sciera, who completed 12-of-25 passing attempts for 209 yards, marched the Trojans 97 yards on 12 plays to give Homer a 7-0 lead. Hall had two big runs in the drive, one for 12 yards and another for 29. Sciera set up the touchdown with a 17-yard pass to Andy Parker to the Cortland five. Hall ran the final distance and Connor Ferrito connected on his first of five extra-point kicks with 5:46 left in the quarter.
Cortland answered quickly as McCaskill (12-for-30, 223 yards) completed a 68-yard toss and catch to Jordan Prior on the fourth play of scrimmage, Justin Burns kicked the PAT and the game was tied 7-7.
Nelson gave Homer great field position at their own 44-yard line after a 17 yard kickoff return. Sciera completed a 26-yard pass to Zach Hatfield to the Purple Tiger 30-yard line. Penalties stalled the drive, but offensive coordinator Tom Cottrell called for some trickery on fourth down at the Cortland 38. Hatfield took the ball for Sciera on the reverse, but then stopped and lofted a perfect pass back to Sciera behind the secondary for a touchdown pass with 27 second left in the quarter.
THE PURPLE TIGERS responded with a four-play drive capped by a 45-yard McCaskill to Barlow completion for six points. McCaskill set-up the scoring toss with a 25-yard completion to Devon Darrow. The game was tied at 14-14 with 11:37 left in the first half.
Homer came back with its third touchdown less than two minutes later. The first big play in the 71-yard drive was a 16-yard run by Sciera who was hit out-of-bounds after the play, The 15-yard personal foul penalty took the ball to the Cortland 37. Two plays later, Sciera tossed a 32-yard touchdown pass to Ferrito for a 21-14 lead.
Turnabout is fair play as a Homer roughing-the-passer penalty came during an 11-yard McCaskill to Barlow connection and moved the Purple Tigers to the Homer 28. After a procedure penalty backed Cortland up five yards, McCaskill rolled out and ran for 20 yards to the 13. McCaskill completed the eight-play drive with a 13-yard pass to Barlow in the end zone to tied the game at 21-12 with 8:23 to go in the half.
Stacy picked off Sciera for the second time to stop the next Homer possession, but the Trojan defense held as well. Nelson had a nice 19-yard punt return to the Homer 47. Three plays later, Sciera found Hatfield free on a 47-yard scoring toss. Homer now led 28-21 with 5:19 left in the first half.
McCaskill guided Cortland on an eight-play, 70 yard march to tie the game again. Stacy began the drive with a 41-yard run to the Trojan 29. A fourth-down McCaskill to Prior pass gave the Purple Tigers a first-and-goal at the Homer one-yard line. It took three plays before McCaskill scampered in from two yards out with 2:25 left in the half.
The first half ended with Homer at the Cortland 18-yard line after a Sciera to Hunter Osborne 24-yard completion.
Cortland had a golden opportunity to take the lead early in the third quarter when a muffed punt gave the Purple Tigers possession at the Homer 40, but the Trojan defense held.
Hall and Morris ran the ball well as Homer went 79 yards in 11 plays. Hall scored the game-winning touchdown and the Trojans had snapped Cortland’s two-game winning streak for the jug.
The last Cortland drive ended with Nelson’s second pick of the day. He returned the ball to the Cortland 18. Sciera took the knee twice to end the game. Homer now leads the series 17-14-1.
“Like Logan and Coach said, we started reading the cadences,” Nelson said. “That’s why I got those two picks. I knew what to expect. I responded the way I was taught by Coach P. all during the pre-season and I followed though to make the plays.”
The road does not get easier for either team. Cortland will face East Syracuse-Minoa Friday night in Class A action. Homer has another non-league contest, traveling to state Class B runner-up Oneida.