October 18, 2008
Seven TDs for Homer’s Simonetta in 50-19 romp
Joe McIntyre/staff photographer
Homer Central's Brandon Simonetta (84) reaches for a first quarter touchdown against Skaneateles’ Brandon Forgham (11), one of seven touchdowns scored by the senior in Friday’s 50-19 Trojans’ victory at Butts Field.
By TOM VARTANIAN
It was a record-setting performance on Senior Night at chilly George W. Butts Field Friday evening.
Homer Central’s all-everything senior Brandon Simonetta set two school records and tied a third while classmate Joey Rivers became the all-time passing leader in school history. Their efforts and those of every Trojan led to a 50-19 Section 3 Class B West Division victory over Skaneateles in the regular-season finale for both teams.
The Trojans improve to 3-2 in division play and 3-4 overall to place third and advance into the Class B playoffs next week. The Lakers slips to 1-4, 1-6 overall and will play a crossover game.
Simonetta caught four passes, three for touchdowns, for a single-game record of 179 yards while rushing for 101 yards on six carries for four more touchdowns.
The seven-touchdown total is a new school record, breaking the six-touchdown record of Mark Brenchley set two seasons ago against Marcellus. He now has 596 receiving yards this season, second best all-time. Simonetta broke the single-game receiving yards record set by Mike Carboine (5-171) last season. It all, with an interception and kickoff return, Simonetta totaled 338 yards.
“It would not be possible without my whole team around me,” said Simonetta. “Our line stepped up big. Joey and John (Sciera) had time to throw because the linemen did a great job protecting them. The running game was also working. That forced Skaneateles to worry about the runners and we got open as receivers. Joey threw the ball where only I could get it. It was really a great team game and it should give us more momentum heading into the playoffs.”
Meanwhile, Rivers completed 7-of-10 passing attempts for 226 yards with three touchdown tosses. Rivers has thrown for 1,031 yards this season, nine yards short of tying Dave Medeiros’ total of 1,040 set in 1985. He has 12 touchdowns passes this season, five short of tying the single-season mark of 17, set by Tim Wern in 1984.
Rivers did surpass Mike McGrath to become the all-time career passing leader with 1,777 yards. McGrath threw for 1,750 yards from 1989-1991.
“Brandon Simonetta broke the record for me,” said Rivers. “I threw the ball and he was the one who caught it and ran. Brandon is the one who had the great game.
“It feels nice to set the record,” Rivers added. “It would feel nicer if we could go out and win again next week. I just want to play my heart out every Friday night and help the team do the rest.”
Rivers went down near the end of the first half as his knee gave out again, but he returned in the second half. The knee problem is not going to go away.
“I’m going to have to play through the pain the rest of the season,” said Rivers. “It is pretty messed up inside, but I can’t change anything now. We need to win playoff games.”
THE FIRST QUARTER was an offensive showcase for both teams. Homer took the opening kickoff and marched 53 yards in six plays, a 30-yard toss from Rivers to Simonetta capped the drive for a 6-0 lead with 9:40 left in the quarter.
Three plays later, the game was tied. Lakers quarterback Thomas Schoener rambled 61 yards of the option to the Trojan four-yard line on the first play from scrimmage with Brandon Forgham (16 carries-91 yards) scoring two plays later.
Demitrius Nelson gave Homer great field position as he returned the ensuing kickoff to the Lakers 37. Six plays later, Simonetta scored on a four-yard run for a 12-6 lead with 5:19 left in the quarter.
Skaneateles tied the game with an eight-play drive closed out by bruising fullback Phil Weiss was raced 32 yards. Weiss carried the ball 20 times for 191 yards and two touchdowns to lead the Lakers attack. That touchdown tied the game at 12-12 with 1:38 left in the quarter.
The tie lasted one play. Rivers dropped back and lofted a pass to Simonetta behind the Skaneateles secondary and 56 yards later, Homer led for good. John Sciera ran for the two-point conversion as the Trojans moved on top 20-12 with 1:21 left in the quarter.
The second quarter was much more tame. On back-to-back Skaneateles offensive possessions, the Trojan defense answered the call. The first was a Simonetta interception at the Trojan 16, which he returned to midfield to stop one drive.
The second drive saw Skaneateles reach the Trojan 23 where quarterback Thomas Schoener had the ball knocked loose by Zach Hatfield and Kyle Griffin recovered for the Trojans.
Simonetta capped a nine-play drive with a spectacular 13-yard run fourth down for another Trojan touchdown. Homer would lead 26-12 with 2:38 left in the first half.
“We called a 48-sweep,” said Simonetta. “Skaneateles shifted over and I took the ball, headed to the right and saw nothing there. I turned back to the left a found a seam. John Sciera was carrying out his fake and he made a nice block on the outside. He only blocked one guy, but he pushed him back into two other guys. That sealed the end and I ran for the corner. I saw one defender coming so I dove for the pylon and got the ball across the goal-line before going out of bounds.”
SKANEATELES STAYED in the game by opening the third quarter with good field position after the kickoff went out-of-bounds at the Trojan 47. On the fifth play, Weiss broke free on a fourth-down, 31-yard touchdown romp. Paul Hamilton kicked the extra point and the Lakers trailed 26-19. That would be as close as the visitors would get as Homer ran off 24 unanswered points.
The first score was a 13-yard run by Simonetta with 8:01 left in the third quarter.
The Trojan defense forced a punt and it took just one play for Rivers to loft a 64-yard scoring strike to Simonetta with a 38-19 Homer advantage with six minutes left in the quarter. That touchdown catch gave Simonetta his receiving record and Rivers the new career passing mark.
The next Skaneateles possession ended with Nelson picking off Schoener. Homer took over at the Lakers 34. Five plays later, K.J. Reese ran six yards for the touchdown and a 44-19 Trojan lead.
Reese led the Homer runners with 155 yards on 23 carries, his best performance of the season. Reese moved into 10th-place on the all-time rushing list with 1,540 yards, replacing Nick Caruso (2003-2004) on the list.
“People have been asking me, where is the old K.J. Reese,” Reese said. “I really didn’t have an answer until tonight. I talked to my dad after school. He looked me right in the eye and asked me the same question. I told him I was coming back tonight and I did.
“Everyone really stepped up tonight,” Reese added. “Nate Compton is one of those guys that I have been with throughout my football career. He tries harder than anybody I know. He did a nice job tonight, but all the seniors really did well. Mike Norris and D.J. Canfield stepped up too, as did all the seniors and, in reality, all the players on this team tonight.”
SKANEATELES MADE one final push and reached the Trojan one-yard line on second and goal. The final two plays of the third quarter and the first play of the fourth quarter saw the Lakes tried to get that final yard, but the Trojan defense said no and took over on downs. Reese carried seven on eight plays as Homer get the ball out to their own 37 where Simonetta took one last handoff and ran his way into the record books for the second time in the game. The 63-yard scampered capped his phenomenal night and closed out the Trojan 50-19 win with 8:22 left.
Jaydon Kiernan intercepted a third Schoener pass on the next Laker possession. The Trojans did not score, but took 4:49 off the clock and Skaneateles ran out the remaining 2:47 to end the game.
Homer will most likely face Holland Patent next Saturday in a Class B quarterfinal game. All the pairings will be decided after today’s games and the football committee meets Sunday.
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