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October 18, 2010

 

Trojans wind up sharing top spot

By TOM VARTANIAN
Staff Writer

PHOENIX — The Section 3 Class B B West Division regular-season football finale between Homer Central and Phoenix began with a surprise and ended with a little history.
Trojans’ senior Frank Davis recovered his own on-sides kickoff to start the visitors rolling towards a 33-19 triumph that clinched a share of the division title on Saturday afternoon. Davis had a big game with 16 carries for 174 yards and a touchdown as Homer finihed up 5-1 in the division and 6-1 overall.
The history came from Firebirds’ back-up quarterback Mariah Provost, who scored on the final play of the game off a nice bootleg from four yards out.
She became the first female to score a touchdown in Section 3 varsity game.
“We did what we had to do,” Davis said of the victory that sends the Trojans into the Class B playoffs riding a four-game winning streak. “The coaches asked me to run the ball.”
“We did a lot of things to make our life miserable today,” Homer coach Gary Podsiedlik said after Phoenix battled back from an early 18-0 deficit. “We dropped some passes, we fumbled the ball and we had some inconsistencies on defense. We didn’t play like a unit today. We were not as physical today as we have been, but we’ll correct that.”
Though finishing tied with Westhill and Marcellus for first place in the West Division, Homer ended up behind both rivals in tie-breaking procedures and will be on the road in a Class B quarterfinal round game this coming Saturday. The Trojans travel to Vernon-Verona-Sherill for a 2 p.m. kickoff, this a rematch of last year’s first round playoff contest won by the host Red Devils 21-14.
Against Phoenix, Homer senior Ethan Forster got his first varsity start at quarterback and drove the Trojans downfield on the first possession after the surprising on-side kick start. Forster capped the four-play, 45-yard drive with a 31-yard scoring pass to tight end Zach Hatfield two minutes into the contest. Forster completed five-of-nine passing attempts for 98 yards and three touchdowns. Hatfield was on the receiving end four times for 86 yards and the senior caught all three TD passes.
“It was fun out there,” Forster said. “I got the opportunity and I just wanted to fill in and do my best. My job was to go out there and help the team win.
“Hatty (Hatfield) definitely helped me out,” he continued. “The second one (TD), I threw behind him, but he may a nice catch and I underthrew him on the third one. He’s a good athlete.”
“Ethan Forster is a great quarterback,” Davis said. “He stepped it up today. He threw the ball well. He gives 100 percent at practice every day and knows what he has to do out there.”
The Trojans jumped to a 12-0 led after forcing Phoenix (2-4, 2-5 overall) to punt on its first possession. The drive was capped by a five yard pass from Forster to Hatfield with 3:24 left in the first quarter for a 12-0 advantage.
Davis broke free on a 61-yard gallop to begin the Trojans’ five-play scoring to open the second quarter. He finished the drive with a three-yard plunge an Homer led 18-0 with 10:08 remaining in the first half.
PHOENIX THEN HELD the ball for six minutes after a bizarre string of events.
The Firebirds kept possessison when a fourth-down punt that was muffed by the Trojans, the hosts recovering the ball at the Trojan 45. On third-and-34, the Trojans were called for pass interference to hand Phoenix an automatic after the 15-yard walkoff. The time-consuming drive finally came up empty when Dyson Sprouse picked off Denver Splawn’s fourth down pass at the Homer 11-yard line.
The Trojans couldn’t run out the first-half clock, however, and Phoenix got the ball at midfield with 57 seconds left. Splawn fumbled and recovered the ball on the first play and Josh Morse rambled 15 yards on the second play. With enough time left for one more snap, Splawn launched a 36-yard scoring pass to Tyler Button — who came back on the underthrown ball to make the catch, spin and score. Phoenix trailed 18-6 at the break.
The Trojans gained 240 yards (173 rush, 67 pass) in the first half, but went three-and-out to open the third quarter.
Using the momentum gained from the late first-half score, Phoenix got the ball to their 48-yard line in four plays. The fifth play was a 52-yard pitch-and-catch from Splawn to Morse and the Firebirds trailed 18-13 with 7:16 left in the third quarter. The 68-yard scoring drive was more than the 41 total yards gained in the first half by the home team.
Homer did not take long to retake control. Forster capped a six-play, 79-yard scoring drive with a 31-yard scoring pass to Hatfield. Forster flipped the two-point conversion pass to Hunter Osborne for a 26-13 lead with 4:27 left in the third quarter,
After Phoenix punted, Homer dodged a big bullet. Davis dropped back to punt. The snap.from the 26-yard line, sailed over his head, but he recovered quickly and picked the ball up around his own 11. Davis avoided the initial rush and scampered to the Phoenix 46 before he was tackled and gave the Trojans a first down. The Trojans appeared to be on the way to another score, but the ball was fumbled at the two yard line and Phoenix recovered.
The possession was short-lived as the Firebirds fumbled the ball back to the Trojans on third down at their own nine-yard line. After Phoenix was whistled for encroachment, Zerek Zimmerman raced four yards for the final Homer score and a 33-13 advantage with 6:31 left in the game.
THE TWO TEAMS exchanged turnovers. Osborne recorded his sixth interception of the season for the Trojans, who fumbled the ball back to Phoenix six plays later.
With 1:54 left, Provost marched her team down the field. Her 32-yard third-down completion was followed later by a 28-yard fourth down completion to the Trojan nine-yard line. A pass interference penalty in the end zone put the ball at the Homer four.
After an incomplete pass, Phoenix had one last shot with four seconds to go. Provost faked a hand-off to her right and bootlegged to her left. She picked up one key block and raced into the end zone and the history books.
“It’s was cool,” said Provost, who has played the game since her Pop Warner days. “I really didn’t think I would get a chance to do it. It was awesome. I was glad I got a chance to play today.
“I didn’t think it was a big deal to play varsity football,” she added. “I just liked playing football.”
“I was so happy for Mariah,” Phoenix head coach Jeff Charles said. “She’s played Pop Warner football. She grown up in this community and she has a lot of supporters. She has paid her dues and has been very patient. What a way to end the regular season. I am very proud of her.”
“She may be a lady, but she’s also a football player,” Podsiedlik said. “She’s worked her tail off and nobody has handed her anything. It was nice to see.”

 

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