SECTION 5 CLASS C CHAMPIONSHIP 2005
fight off Avon Braves 25-19
|Game recap by Brian Hillabush - Batavia Daily News Sports|
AVON - The
Le Roy football team needed overtime to stay perfect. The Oatkan Knights
scored in the first overtime and beat host Avon 25-19 in a Livingston
Conference clash Friday night.
the ball first and failed to score. Le Roy then took over and Bennetti
found Tiberio with
The game started with a diminished crowd due to the driving cold downpour that was Friday evening in Avon. By night's end the cheering would seem like that of thousands. The Braves, ranked 15th in the State C poll, knew they could more than play with the Oatkan Knights. The senior laden team with diverse talent could not wait to take on the Knights, ranked as the second best team in NY Class C. The Braves' goal was to show LeRoy that the Knights were the #2 team in the LCAA Division 2 standings. Were it not for a few inches, the ultimate goal of Avon - to defeat both Cal-Mum and LeRoy in the same season - would have manifested. In the end, number 13 would turn out to be an unlucky number for the hometown Braves.
The Knights took to the field once again without the services of TB Mike Farabella, sitting out the contest with an injury. The Knights called upon the rugged inside running of Justin Casper and Dan Horning, and the outside bursts of Mike Frew to establish the ground game. All 3 came through for the Knights. Casper collected 106 yards against the rugged green clad defense, while Frew averaged 6.5 yards a carry, many on off-tackle bursts. Dan Horning was quick off the ball and received the nod at the goal line to earn 3 TDs on the night. Mark Bennetti was called to throw the ball but 8 times, completing 4 for 99 yards the last throw for a 19-yard TD that keeps the Knights unbeaten on the year.
Mind you, there was no letdown from the Hornell victory. Indeed the weather was terribly sloppy, but BOTH teams had to play in it. Avon is the real deal. You do not defeat the Cal-Mum Raiders 36-14 by luck. The Braves were pushed around a tad in the 1st half as the Knights put together some time consuming scoring drives to be up 13-0 at intermission after 2 Dan Horning TD dives. LeRoy was to receive the ball 1st in the 2nd half. One additional TD would break the Braves' spirit right? No such luck.
Avon held strong on LeRoy's initial drive after the break. Scrambling Avon QB Adam Barrett was put back into the shotgun and the field opened up nicely for the Avon attack. LeRoy defenders were slipping about trying to thwart Barrett and cover his intended targets. Midway through the 3rd quarter the tide turned with a 12-yard Barrett TD toss to Ben Phillips. The lead was cut to 13-6 Knights and with the slick conditions the game could swing at a moment's notice, and it did.
The Braves stiffened on D and forced a change of possession. Lightning struck with 3:12 remaining in the 3rd quarter when Barrett hooked up nicely on the run with junior WR Justin Gutzmer on a 60-yard TD pass and run. The Braves were more than back in business, they were in control. The PAT kick knotted the score at 13 each, but the Braves were playing inspired and spirited football while the Knights appeared unsettled by the turn of events.
The Knights, reeling against the ropes, showed their mettle and answered the call. The visitors put together a drive culminating with a 3rd Horning TD to go up 19-13 with 8 minutes remaining. Facing 3rd-and-12 from the LeRoy 29, the Knights needed a big play. A huge play resulted as LeRoy star WR Craig Tiberio picked up the 1st down by snagging a 35-yard pass from QB Bennetti over 2 Avon defenders at the Avon 26.
The Braves mixed timely running with the outstanding field vision and passing of QB Barrett to keep the Avon upset bid alive. The crowd was screaming, car horns were honking, the players were smashing about on the muddy gridiron it was an electric atmosphere, albeit cold and miserable. Barrett weaved beautifully through the Knights defense for a 6-yard TD scamper to tie the game at 19. With just 5:18 showing on the clock, and the field a quagmire, the boot for PAT could very well secure the Avon win. Avon chain gang members were bursting with glee - Cal-Mum and LeRoy to go down in the same season here at home! Enter #13.
LeRoy's lucky #13 is Craig Tiberio. Last week an area sportswriter described him as Superman after his do-it-all-but-sell-popcorn-at-halftime performance against the mighty Red Raiders of Hornell. As he did last week, Craig slashed into the backfield to block the Avon PAT and keep the game tied at 19. In the end, this play was the difference between victory and defeat for the Knights.
The Knights received the ball and marched down the field for what looked to be the game winning drive. Justin Casper was running hard behind a hard-charging LeRoy line. First and goal at the 6. The Avon faithful cheered on their Braves, inspiring a gutsy defensive stand. Soon it was 4th and goal at the 3 for LeRoy. The Knights' chances of winning the game in regulation were thwarted when they were backed up to the 18 after a misconduct penalty. With the Braves unable to move the ball in the waning moments, overtime become the order of the evening.
The Braves received the ball first in OT and moved it well from the designated 20-yard line drive start position. First-and-goal at the 9 arose. The Knights kept the scrambling Barrett in check, while knocking down a pass and stopping the rush. The Braves chose to kick a field goal. Should it be good and the Braves able to stop the Knights on their OT possession, glorious victory would belong to Avon. Enter LeRoy's #13 again. Tiberio flew into the backfield and again smothered the Avon kick. Elated, the Knights needed a score of any kind to win this muddy war.
The Braves were ready on LeRoy's first play from the 20 - a one-yard gain up the gut. On 2nd down, QB Mark Bennetti floated a masterful 19-yard lob to the front left corner of the end zone. The Avon defender had inside position and his sights on the slick muddy ball heading his way. The 6'3 Tiberio timed his leap perfectly as was able to snatch the ball cleanly from the defender as it arrived. A twist of his body on the fall to ground ensured LeRoy possession to which the referee verified with the raising of his 2 arms to signal touchdown. The LeRoy squad, coaches, and fans celebrated wildly as the Knights had escaped the Braves and the elements for the hard-earned victory.
Along with the win, the Knights earned the LCAA Division 2 crown and the #1 seeding in the upcoming Class C sectionals. Brian Moran's squad will be defending their crown while attempting to win a 12th championship for LHS.
Congrats to the Avon Braves and coach Andy Englert for showing all why the Braves are more than worthy of their top 15 state ranking. It was not that long ago that the Avon football program was in disarray. Not now, the program is a force to be reckoned with yearly. The Braves know they can go toe-to-toe with any Section 5 C team, their only loss before this game was to 5-1 Class B Livonia.
The Knights have now defeated some very strong teams - Class B Batavia and Hornell, and Class C Cal-Mum and Avon, all on the road. Everyone has stepped up to the challenge of this very tough schedule. With the return of all-state Farabella imminent, the Knights will ready themselves for a tough post-season that features a deeply talented Section 5 Class C classification.
Stats courtesy of the accounting firm,
B. Mase Associates LLC
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Knights clog up the middle to thwart this 4th down QB sneak by the Braves
LeRoy RB Mike Frew finds the footing to his liking on this 21-yard sweep
Lineman Shaun Swanson (75) opens up the right side for a Frew 10-yard gain
Brady Bonacquisti (33), Chad Condidorio (25), and Tim Andrews (28) halt this Avon rush quickly
Craig Tiberio picks off the Avon pass and returns it 36 yards for the Oatkan
Andrews sacks Avon QB Adam Barrett as teammate Mike Alexander assists in the stop
Lineman Rob Morgan (57) opens a hole for this Dan Horning 6-yard blast
Chad Condidorio is in the right spot at the right time to scoop up the Avon fumble
Justin Casper makes a fine 24-yard return of an Avon kickoff despite the wet conditions
Sophomore DL Marcus Epps shrugs off the blocker to stop the Avon rusher cold
Quickness off the snap like this paved the way for 3 Dan Horning TDs for the Knights
QB Mark Bennetti connects with the reliable Tiberio for a 35-yard gain into Avon territory
Casper runs hard inside the John Whiting block to move the ball to the Avon
Tim Andrews (28) subdues scrambling Avon QB Adam Barrett in overtime
The Knights celebrate the tough win after Tiberio pulls in this 19-yard TD toss from Bennetti in OT