Dont let last Sundays 21-7 Hornell victory over Le
Roy fool you. It was much closer than that. Unfortunately for the second-seeded
Knights in their Class C title game, poor second half field position,
a few costly penalties, and two huge fumbles, was the difference maker
in No. 1 Hornell capturing the programs 12th sectional title in
the contest played at Sahlens Stadium.
We just couldnt get any field position throughout most of
the game, said Le Roy coach Brian Moran. But these kids
played really hard, and as a coach, that is all you can ask for. They
left it all out on the field.And they nearly left Hornell on the
wrong end of the scoreboard for the first time in 49 games.
Le Roy led 7-0 at the half before Hornell scored back-to-back TDs within
a two-minute span of the third quarter, then added a fourth quarter
safety and a late touchdown to make the score appear much more lopsided
than it was.
Le Roy showed its fury from the start, and after forcing Hornell out
on the Red Raiders first series, the Knights went right to work
with an eight-play, 55-yard scoring drive that started with four straight
carries from Dylan Johnson for 42 yards and finished with four straight
runs for 16 yards by Tommy Kelso, including a 5-yard TD run that made
it 7-0 following Johnsons PAT kick. It was only the second time
all season that Hornell had trailed.
Neither team would get past the pylons the rest of the first half as
Le Roy held the seven-point advantage at the break. The Le Roy defense
was the standout in the first half as the Knights limited Hornell to
just two first downs and 53 total yards in the first 24 minutes of football.
A poor punt by Le Roy following its second possession of the second
half allowed Hornell to take over on the Knights 36 with just
over six minutes left in the third. Just four plays later, Zack Bacon
culminated the scoring drive with a 15-yard TD run that made it 7-6
with 5:23 left in the third.
Hornell missed its attempt at a two-point try, keeping the Knights in
front. At least for the moment.
On Le Roys next play from scrimmage, a fumbled pitch would be
recovered by Hornells Matt Mauro at the Knights 24. A three-yard
run by Bacon followed by a 19-yard run by junior running back Luke Morgan
would set up Morgans 2-yard TD run with 4:21 left in the third.
Another missed two-point try left the game at 12-7.
A 26-yard slant pass from sophomore QB Mike McMullen to senior Marcus
Mistersaro would pump some life into Le Roy, but the drive would stall
out on downs at the Hornell 28 late in the third. After the Le Roy defense
came up with a big D stand on fourth and two at its own
30, an ill-advised chop block penalty on the Knights ensuing offensive
play from scrimmage would force a first and 26 deep inside their own
territory. Thats when Hornell senior defensive end Richie Harkenrider
came up with a big forced fumble on a McMullen pass attempt as Patrick
Deebs fell on the ball at the Le Roy 10.
The Knights defense, like it had done all game, would come up
with the turnover on downs following Harkenriders incomplete pass
on fourth and goal at the 8. But Harkenrider would make amends for the
poor pass as four plays later he would sack McMullen in the endzone
for the safety, giving the Red Raiders the 14-7 lead with 2:27 left.
I was anticipating the snap, and that time it paid off,
said the senior Harkenrider, who was named the games top defensive
back. Le Roys attempt on the onside kick from their own 20 would
be recovered at the 28, and four plays later Bacon was in the endzone
once again this time from 14 yards away and a 21-7 advantage
with just over a minute left.
We made some mistakes which really hurt us, said Kelso,
who played a great game on both sides of the ball with 42 yards rushing
and one TD on offense and a game-high 12 tackles on defense. We
came out and played hard. But when you make mistakes they can beat you.
They werent as good as everyone said they were.
The Le Roy defense limited Harkenrider and Hornells passing game
to 0-of-10 passing with one interception (Kylan Carter).Bacon, who was
named the games MVP, would rack up 165 yards on 30 carries, while
Morgan ran for 40 yards on nine totes.
They hit hard, said Bacon, of Le Roy. That was the
hardest Ive been hit all year. We didnt come out as hot
as I thought we would, but we picked it up. Now we get to keep on playing,
and thats what I live for this time of year.
Le Roy didnt fare much better throwing the ball on what was a
very windy day as McMullen went 2-of-17 passing for 30 yards and two
picks. Kelso led Le Roy with 43 yards on the ground while Johnson finished
with 42 yards on eight carries. Kelso led the LeRoy defense with a dozen
tackles, followed by Johnson (9) and Mistersaro (7). Kody Lamkin and
Sean McMullen split 12 tackles while Ryan McQuillen, Kylan Carter and
Frank Conte each were credited with 5 stops. The Knights played mostly
without top RB Peter Privitera, who was hampered by an injury and ran
just once all game.
While Bacon was named MVP, Harkenrider earned top defensive back honors
with teammate Zach Oyer being named top defensive lineman. Kelso was
named top offensive back while Le Roys Archie Cappotelli was named
most outstanding offensive lineman. The victory for Hornell tied the
Section 5 record with 49 straight Ws along with Caledonia-Mumford.
I am very proud of these kids, they had a great week of preparation
and they played their hearts out, said Moran, whose Knights finished
8-2, earning a share of the Livingston Conference Division II title.
Hopefully this group that returns will continue to get in the
weight room and have the desire to get back here again next year.
(Le Roy) did some things we hadnt seen before on their first
drive and they played hard the rest of the way, said first-year
varsity head coach Erik Werner. There wasnt a sense of panic
at halftime, we just came out and played our game, and our defense saved
our butts. We have all the respect in the world for coach Moran and
his team, and they put up a heck of a fight today."
Hornell (10-0) will advance to this Saturdays state quarterfinals
against Cleveland Hill (Section 6) at noon at All-High Stadium in Buffalo.
A victory would give them 50 straight wins and the Section 5 record