October 20, 2012
Homer done in by ‘The Man’
QB McCarthy sparks Camden past Trojans
You often hear in sports talk about “The Man,” the guy who steps up when it counts most.
Camden’s Ryan McCarthy certainly played that role in Friday night’s 37-20 Section 3 Class B quarterfinal playoff football victory over Homer Central at George Butts Field, as the junior quarterback completed 15-of-23 passing attempts for 279 yards and four touchdowns.
McCarthy also ran the ball six times for 195 yards and one touchdown, kicked a 26-yard field goal, booted three extra points and totaled 21 yards in kick and punt returns. All of this propels the sixth-seeded Blue Devils (6-2 overall) into the semifinals against the winner of today’s Westhill at Cazenovia quarterfinal contest.
Homer, the third-seed, sees its season come to an end at 6-2 as well.
“All through practice this week all Coach (Jake) Bates said was ‘Lay it in the basket, lay it in the basket,’” McCarthy said. “I just tried to perfect those passes tonight. I have some great receivers, but I do have to give a lot of credit to my offensive line. They gave me a nice pocket. I just have to trust them and throw a nice ball. Everything just turned out great, it all seemed to work well.
“Without Jeremy (Zeitschel) we do have a good core of running backs that can step up,” he continued. “We do have some depth, but my line again deserves all the credit for me being able to run. I was more patient. It was nice to see big holes and green grass in front of me.”
Camden’s Zeitschel was out of action with a knee injury.
“With the way Homer plays defense, we knew Ryan would have to have a big game tonight,” Camden head coach Aaron Fiorini said. “It took a total team effort because the line handled their pressure. Our receivers made some great catches and Ryan made some nice throws. Without the line blocking, the backs picking up the blitzers and the guys going up to catch those passes, things would not gone as well as they did. It truly was a team effort. Homer is a team that does not quit and we simply had to put as many points on the boards as we could.”
Homer did its best to apply pressure, but McCarthy made the right decisions.
“He made such great pressure decisions,” Homer coach Gary Podsiedlik said. “Camden ran well-timed routes and McCarthy made the right reads and delivered the ball even though we had the receivers well covered at times. He knew when to pass and he made the right decision when to run. Even though he was on the other team, if you love the game of football, he was fun to watch tonight. That was one of his best games ever.”
IT TOOK BOTH TEAMS a couple of possessions to figure each other out, but once McCarthy found his rhythm it was lights out.
The Blue Devils were pinned back at their own 10-yard line with 2:37 left in the first quarter when McCarthy used two big passes to wideout Ward Seymour to put six points on the board. The first hook-up went 26 yards and got the ball to the Blue Devil 44 and three plays later the same duo connected on third down for the remaining 56 yards and a 7-0 lead after McCarthy kicked the extra point.
Homer turned the ball over on its next possession as Dustin Lewis picked off a Casey Cleary pass at the Blue Devil 20. McCarthy ran a QB counter on the next play and raced 76 yards to the Trojan four-yard line. A holding penalty on Camden moved the ball back to the Homer 15, but McCarthy flipped a scoring pass to tight end Aaron Davis for a 14-0 lead 13 seconds into second-quarter play.
With 5:18 left in the first half, Homer put together a nice five-play 68 yard drive. Cleary connected a long gainers to Payten Boice and Jake Casey to move deeper into Camden territory. After two successful runs moved the ball to the Camden 20-yard line, Cleary threw a pass to Boice who made a great catch on the high throw. Boice broke one tackle at the seven yard line and bulled through two more defenders at the goal line for the touchdown as the Trojans closed the gap to 14-6.
The Blue Devils needed just one offensive play to answer. McCarthy ran the read-counter again and raced 79 yards for a touchdown 19 seconds after the Trojan score for a 21-6 Camden lead.
After holding the Trojans defensively, the Blue Devils went 64 yards in 46 seconds, the capper a 40-yard McCarthy to Seymour touchdown pass and a 27-6 lead with 12 seconds left in the first half.
Camden began the second half with an onside kick and recovered the ball at the Homer 49. Seven plays later, McCarthy threw a screen pass to Joe Muller who covered the final 28 yards on the drive for another six points. The Blue Devils now led 34-6 with 8:15 left in the third quarter. McCarthy left the game with a leg cramp after the scoring pass and back-up quarterback Tyler Kimball had trouble moving the ball.
HOMER GOT THE BALL back after an exchange of punts and the Trojans went for the home run ball. On second down from their own 20-yard line, Jayden Gavidia took off on a fly pattern down the sideline. The sophomore got a step on the defender and Cleary hit him in stride at the 50. Gavidia pulled away and raced the distance for an 80-yard touchdown and Homer was trailing 34-14 with 3:24 left in the third quarter.
Homer tried an onsides kick, but Camden recovered the ball. Kimball then completed a 20-yard pass to Seymour to move the ball to the Homer 26-yard line, but the drive would stall at the nine-yard line. McCarthy returned to the field and kicked a 26-yard field goal as Camden led 37-14 with 1:30 left in the third quarter.
The Trojans drove downfield but Seymour intercepted a Cleary pass in the end zone to end the threat. Camden could not move the ball and Kimball went back to punt the ball. Trojan junior Chris Brown got a clean run at Kimball and blocked the punt into the end zone. Brown recovered the ball and the Trojans were within 37-20 with 9:35 remaining in the game.
The only threatening drive was the final Homer drive, but it fizzled at the Camden 10-yard line with 13 seconds to play. McCarthy, who re-entered the game after the blocked punt, took a knee on the final play of the game and the Blue Devils were moving on to the semifinals.
McCarthy’s exploits also overshadows a couple of Trojan milestones in the final game for the third-seed and 18th-ranked Class B team in New York State.
Cleary completed nine-of-22 passing attempts for 212 yards with two touchdowns and three interceptions. The 212 yards is the fifth-best single-game total in school history.
“IT’S TOO BAD we could not have gotten the win tonight,” Cleary said. “I had no clue I threw the ball for that many yards tonight. It was good to have that kind of effort, but maybe with a little more experience and a little more practice, I could have helped us have a better game overall and gotten a win for us.
“I did feel more comfortable today,” he added. “Our linemen did step up. They are a great group and we were able to have some good success moving the ball.”
Trojan senior Mark Dove became the 22nd running back in school history to record 1,000 career rushing yards on his very first carry of the night, a six-yard gain. Dove finished the night with 67 yards, 760 yards for the season and 1,062 for his career.
“The 1,000 yards is nice, but it doesn’t really matter to me,” Dove said. “I would trade me getting just one yard or the five yards I needed for 1,000 to get the win instead. Those yards just don’t mean that much to me right now.
“They were a little bigger, faster and stronger than us,” he added. “We have seen that most of the year, but we have been successful because we have played as a team. We tried our hardest tonight, but we came up a little short.”
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