November 4, 2013
Late Oneida surge trips Trojans
Homer suffers 1st loss in B semifinal
CHITTENANGO — All the hopes of a Dome to Dome football season for Homer Central came crashing down in an uncharacteristic fashion in the final 12 minutes Saturday at Chittenango High School.
The Trojans trailed 12-9 after a great goal-line stand with 1:18 left in the third quarter before a pair of fourth-quarter fumbles did in the top seed and led to 19 additional points and a 31-9 triumph by fourth-seed Oneida in the Section 3 Class B semifinals.
The Indians (8-1 overall) will face second-seed Cazenovia (9-0) in Sunday’s championship at 3 p.m. in the Carrier Dome. The Lakers routed third-seed Marcellus (5-4) 63-18 in the second game of the Chittenango doubleheader.
The Trojans had opened the season beating Phoenix in the Dome, but failed to earn a return trip.
“It was a great first half between two championship level football teams,” Homer coach Gary Podsiedlik said. “Both teams were physical, but their patience paid off in the second half. Oneida decided not to throw much and just keep the ball away from us and not let us make the big play. They decided to just grind it out and that’s what they did.
“We did give them some short-field opportunities in the fourth quarter,” he continued. “They didn’t rush, but just kept working to get with yards they could and it paid off for them. We did make a couple of mistakes that they capitalized on.”
After a scoreless first quarter, Oneida took the lead with 8:18 left in the half. Quarterfback Rory McCarthy tossed a 38-yard scoring pass to Drew Mallinder for the 6-0 lead.
Homer (8-1) came right back and scored two minutes later when quarterback Drew Cottrell heaved a 43-yard bomb to Jayden Gavidia to draw the teams even at 6-6. It was the fifth scoring hook-up by the junior duo this season.
The Indians used nine plays to go 65 yards and retake a 12-6 lead on their next possession. Dylan Cafalone scored his first of two touchdowns with a four-yard blast with 1:34 to go in the half.
After a 40-yard Cottrell to Jake Casey pass to the Oneida 23-yard line gave the Trojan a chance for the tying touchdown in the final minute, the drive would stall at the Indian nine-yard line. Joel Christopher booted a 37-yard field and Homer trailed 12-9 heading into the locker room.
HOMER GOT THE BALL to start the second half, but went three-and-out. Chris Brown’s punted was downed at the Oneida 18 and the Indians began 16-play drive that chewed up eight minutes on the clock. Oneida was stopped on 4th-and-goal at the Trojan three by an incomplete pass.
The Trojans were deep in their own territory and only got to their own 11 before lining up to punt. Oneida was called for encroachment on the 4th-and-two situation and it appeared the Trojans got new life after the automatic first down after the five-yard penalty.
That joy lasted just one play when the usually sure-handed junior workhorse Alec Bush fumbled the ball. Zack Murray pounced on the loose ball for just the fourth turnover — third by fumble — this season at the Trojan 17. Two plays later, Cafalone bulled in from four yards out for an 18-9 lead with 11:15 left in the fourth quarter.
Neither team moved the ball on their next possession. When Oneida punted on fourth down, Gavidia fumbled the ball at it own 23 yard-line and Kyle George recovered the fifth Trojan turnover of the season. The short three-play drive ended with a five-yard option run by quarterback Rory McCarthy and the Indians led 24-9 with 3:54 to go.
While Cafalone led the Oneida ground game with 29 carries for 180 yards, McCarthy had a good day overall. He ran for 44 yards on 10 carries while completing four-of-eight passing attempts for 95 yards. His lone mistake was his very first pass where Homer junior cornerback Jake Hayes made a great diving interception near midfield.
HOMER COULD NOT move the ball and punted with 2:08 left in the game. Murray, Oneida’s big fullback, broke free after the Trojans’ failed fourth down attempt at their own 33 yard-line, After gaining six yards on his first carry, Murray took the next hand-off up the middle for a 27-yard touchdown. The Indians did convert the PAT kick for the 31-9 final score with 1:56 to play.
Homer ran the ball on the final three plays of the game gaining nine yards as time ran out. Ironically, the Trojans gained a total of 13 rushing yards in the second half and just 89 for the game, well below their 304 yards/game average in the first eight games of the season.
Bush finished with 19 carries for 44 yards to lead Homer. He finishes the season with 1,333 yards and 15 touchdowns.
Cottrell put up his best numbers of the season with 111 yards passing after completing six-of-nine passing attempts. He caps his junior year with 26 completions on 49 attempts (.531 pct.) for 572 yards and seven touchdown passes. The greatest stat for the first-year signal-caller was just one interception way back on Sept. 20 against Chittenango in just the third game of the season. Gavidia was on the receiving end of 10 Cottrell passes for a total of 332 yards and five touchdowns. Those two and Bush are just three of a potential 18 returnees from the 28 active players on the 2013 roster. Factor those in with the players up from the 7-0 JV team and the future looks bright.
NOT TO BE OVERLOOKED are the efforts of seniors Casey, Brown, Zac Seymour, Dallas Ray, Matt Norris, Jake Norton, Brent Bishop, Nick Holcomb, Shaun McGrath, Connor Simonetta and Millet DeAngles on the field and the off-field battle by Jack Connery to come back only to fall one game short of be able to play a game from a non-football related ailment.
Connery was in full uniform Saturday and on the sidelines, but could not participate. All of his teammates try to get that one more win so their teammate could have gotten on the field at the Carrier Dome.
“Our seniors gave it all they had on the field today and all season long,” Podsiedlik said. “There was a great commitment. These guys like each other and really came together so that was great. We just ran into a team today that played smashmouth football with us for four quarters. Oneida was the only team to do that all season.”
Brown, Norris, Casey and Simonetta will all play one more game at 7 p.m. Thursday as the Homer quartet will compete in the Arcaro Classic Senior Football All-Star Game at Liverpool. Brown and Norris will be linebackers, Casey will play cornerback and Simonetta will be a free safety. Podsiedlik will be the defensive coordinator for the team.
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