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September 27, 2008

 

Late Trojans TD toss beats Solvay

Football

Joe McIntyre/staff photographer
Homer Central’s K.J. Reese (33) is brought down by Solvay’s Tom Bradley (79) in the first quarter of Friday’s football match-up at Butts field. Reese rushed for 60 yards and a touchdown in a 27-26 Trojans victory.

By TOM VARTANIAN
Staff Writer

Homer Central had something to prove Friday night and the Trojans did just that.
With a revamped ground attack, clutch passing and a good defensive effort, Homer posted a 27-26 come-from-behind football victory over Solvay in a Section 3 Class B West Division match-up George W. Butts Field on Small Fry Night.
Quarterback Joey Rivers capped a seven-play fourth quarter drive by throwing a 15-yard touchdown pass to Brandon Simonetta with 3:18 left to play to put the Trojans ahead to stay.
The Trojans improve to 1-1 in division play and 1-3 overall with the visiting Bearcats sporting the exact same record.
“Solvay is always going to be tough,” said Homer coach Gary Podsiedlik. “They kept coming and played a physical game, just like our kids did. Our two teams were pretty evenly matched and I think that shows in the final stats. Both teams made some big plays. It was a good sign overall that we gave up 26 points and still found a way to win this football game. We need that total team effort that we saw tonight.
“I told the kids that this is the way football is suppose to be played,” Podsiedlik continued. “It’s not pretty. It’s not smooth flowing all the time. It was a dirty, but good, game and I mean dirty in terms of a good old-fashioned rough type of game.”
“Homer flexed its muscle a bit tonight,” said Solvay coach Phil Merrill. “I was disappointed in the way we played defense. We needed to make some big stops and we didn’t. That hurts because we pride ourselves on defense. Give Homer credit because they played hard for four quarters and they came back from a tough loss the week before.”
Part of the renewed ground attack featured junior tailback Jake Morris, who rushed for 50 yards and one touchdown on seven carries. His quickness to the outside complimented the power running of senior tailback K.J. Reese (20 carries-60 yards, 1 TD) and sophomore fullback Andy Parker (4-30). Mixing in quarterback Rivers and junior Aleks Glover, the Trojans rushed 43 times for 173 yards, the best team effort of the season.
Morris also made his first varsity start at middle linebacker as was a factor with a team-leading six solo tackles, plus six assisted tackles.
“I think offense is my strong point,” Morris said. “We did a good job overall. K.J. pulled it off on offense. Speed is my factor. If I can get an opening, I can go. If K.J. can plow through them, he can go. That is our strength. K.J. supports me because I am the underclassman. He tells me what to do, because I know practically nothing. He keeps me motivated. He is tough on me at times, but that’s okay because he keeps me going. It’s all good in the end.
“I did alright on defense, but I also got beat up pretty good,” Morris added. “I think I’ll make it alright.”
“Jake did a nice job,” Podsiedlik said. “He did get nicked a couple of times, but never asked to come out. He’s worked so hard the past couple of weeks to really get into shape the way he needs to be. Jake was a good contributor tonight.”
RIVERS WAS MORE confident going up top as he completed 9-of-16 passing attempts for 137 yards and two touchdowns. Both scoring strikes went to clutch receiver Simonetta, who caught six passes for 86 yards.
The winning drive for Homer came after a failed attempt to convert on fourth down on the previous drive at their own 45 yard-line and the Trojan defense then needed to make its biggest stand of the game.
The Bearcats went three-and-out for minus-nine yards on the drive, thanks in part to a 15-yard personal foul penalty. Trojans got the ball back with 6:55 to play at their own 27-yard line.
Reese carried four times for 24 yards, Morris netted five yards on two carries, plus a defensive holding penalty, helped Homer get to the Solvay 15, but the biggest play of the drive may have been a 19-yard run by Parker, who ran though two Bearcat defenders to gain an extra 15 yards.
The seven-play drive was capped by Rivers throwing to the back corner of the end zone. Simonetta hauled in that 15-yard toss and Homer took a 27-26 lead with 3:18 left in the game.
Forced into throwing the ball, not the strong suit for Solvay, the Homer defense was ready and waiting. Adam Gordon sacked quarterback Jonathon Orioli (3-for-5 passing, 27 yards) on the first play from scrimmage for a four yard loss. Gordon had a nice game with two sacks, a total of three solo tackles and eight assisted tackles.
A roughing-the-passer penalty gave the Bearcats a first down, but the swing pass to Anthony Liquori lost yardage after a nice open field tackle by Mike Park.
Solvay would soon face a fourth and 12 at its own 31-yard line, but the fourth down completion to Tom Hayes netted 11 yards after a solid tackle by Simonetta and friends to give the Trojans the ball at the Solvay 42 with 1:35 left and no Bearcat timeouts. Rivers ran two quarterback sneaks to run out the clock.
HOMER TOOK a 6-0 lead in the first quarter when Morris broke free on a 15-yard run with 4:37 remaining, but Solvay countered with a nine-play drive that Addison Irons capped with a one-yard blast with 47 seconds left in the quarter.
The Trojans took and 14-6 lead with 4:33 left in the first half. This time is was a swing pass from Rivers to Simonetta. The Bearcat defense lost track of Simonetta and, a short yardage pass became a 26-yard scoring strike as Rivers hit Simonetta behind the Bearcat secondary. Zach Hatfield caught the two-point conversion pass from Rivers.
Not to be outdone, Solvay marched 65 yards in nine plays with Orioli finding Hayes open on a 25-yard touchdown pass with 32 seconds left in the quarter. Liquori ran the two-point conversion and the score was 14-14 at halftime.
Solvay opened the third quarter with a 49-yard kickoff return by Liquori to the Homer 30-yard line. Seven plays later, Liquori (26 carries, 172 yards) raced seven yards for the touchdown and the Bearcats led 20-14.
Simonetta gave Homer good field at the Trojan 45, but a holding penalty at the 28 gave Homer ball possession at its own 18. The Trojans responded to the setback with a 12-play scoring drive that Reese concluded with a three-yard run to make the score 21-20 with 2:25 left in the quarter.
Solvay was on the march as the fourth quarter began and Orioli made an impact play. The senior quarterback found a seam and headed towards the Solvay sideline. He then made a nice cut-back move and sprinted 60 yards for the go-ahead score with 11:47 left. Solvay led 26-21, but could not stop the big winning drive after the two teams exchanged possessions.
Homer is now in a four-way tie for second-place in the division with Marcellus (3-1 overall), Skaneateles (1-3) and Solvay. The Trojans return to George W. Butts Field next Friday to host Marcellus, a 39-20 loser to Westhill, in Class B West action at 7 p.m. It is also the Homecoming game for the Trojans.