The Homer Central football team stepped on the gas from the opening whistle Friday night and never slowed down until the Section 3 Class B semifinal victory was secure.
Senior tailback John Horner III ran for 214 yards and two touchdowns as the sectional second seed and state third-ranked Trojans rolled to a 34-0 shutout of 16th-ranked Vernon-Verona-Sherrill, the third sectional seed, at Chittenango. Homer (9-0 overall) will return to the Carrier Dome this Saturday for a 2 p.m. rematch with defending Class B champion Cazenovia. The top-seeded Lakers (9-0), ranked fifth in the state, got two second-half touchdowns to defeat fourth seed and 23rd ranked Marcellus (7-2) in the opening game of the Chittenango twinbill.
V-V-S concludes its season a 7-2 and saw its seven game winning streak against the Trojans snapped.
“It feels great to be going to the Dome again,” Horner said. “I’m excited that we will be playing Caz again, I can’t do anything without my linemen.”
Dominick Natale had some keys runs and helped out defensively in the Trojans’ win.
“Our O-line played great,” Natale said. “We did everything we could to outscore and out-possess them. The guys played phenomenal. Really looking forward to playing Caz in the Dome.”
Senior quarterback Tucker O’Donnell completed five-of-nine passing attempts for 44 yards and one touchdown and was a huge defensive force as well.
“We showed up today and took care of business,” O’Donnell said. “Our coaches had a great game plan and we executed it.Everybody came to play and that’s how we won it. It was a great team win.
“Our defense came up huge in the first two possessions by V-V-S. They made stops. Once the defense gets going, it helps the offense get rolling.”
Horner has run for a total of 1,330 yards this season and 2,459 yards for his career. That career number is fourth on the all-time list behind Alec Bush (3,751 in 2013-14), Bob Avery (2,629 in 1972-73) and Dustin Morris (2,536 in 2003-05).
Horner sacked V-V-S quarterback for a 25-yard loss at the Red Devil eight-yard line on the first offensive possession and got the ball at the V-V-S 36 after the punt and a five-yard return by Natale. O’Donnell connected on an 11-yard pass to Dante Yacavone for the first touchdown of the game with 7:20 left in the opening quarter.
V-V-S saw its next drive stall at its own nine and the Trojans took over at the Red Devils 42. Natale (six carries for 57 yards) raced to the V-V-S 11-yard line and Horner covered those final yards on the next play to lead 14-0 with 6:10 left in the first quarter.
Homer started its third offensive possession in V-V-S territory as well, but a missed 39-yard field goal attempt prevented the Trojans from adding to their total.
Both teams stiffened on defense for the remainder of the half and V-V-S suffered a blow when junior quarterback Alex Oliver left the game near the midway point of the second quarter and never returned. The Red Devils had just 22 rushing yards and 31 passing yards in the first half. They finished with 53 rushing yards and 83 passing yards.
The Red Devils did reach the Homer 13-yard line on the series in which Oliver was hurt, but a fourth-down screen pass lost seven yards and gave the ball back to the Trojans.
The winners put the game out of reach in the third quarter with two more touchdowns. The first score involved a little luck when O’Donnell lost the snap at the V-V-S one yard line, but the ball ended up in the end zone where Barber recovered for six points with 5:58 left in the third quarter.
After a poor punt, Homer took the ball at the V-V-S 43 and needed just four plays to push its advantage to 28-0. Natale began to drive with an eight-yard scamper and Horner followed with a 27 yard dash to the V-V-S eight yard line. Two plays later, Horner scored his 14th touchdown of the season on a four yard run with 2:53 remaining in the third quarter.
V-V-S tried to get something going in the final minute of the quarter, but the Trojans stopped a fourth-down play and took over at the Red Devils’ 40 when Natale knocked down a pass attempt.
After Horner’s final three carries of the game, Charles Lines raced into the end zone from seven yards out for the final Homer touchdown with 11:46 left in the game. The PAT was missed, but Homer still led 34-0.
The Homer White (second team) offense played the remaining 7:21 of the game. Zach Mallory had 23 yards on six carries with Gabe Cline, Aaron Newcomb and Joe Brady has also getting touches to help seal the victory.
Homer finished with 383 yards on the ground to go with 44 passing yards.The Trojans had 20 first downs to nine for V-V-S and enjoyed a 29:06 to 18:54 time of possession advantage.
Anthony Parker (line) and Dominick Natale (non-line) were the Blue Collar Award winners for Friday night’s game while Parker was also the game captain.
Homer 34, V-V-S 0
V-V-S: 0 – 0 – 0 – 0 — 0
Homer: 14 – 0 – 14 – 6 — 34
Homer – Dante Yacavone 11-yard pass from Tucker O’Donnell (O’Donnell kick).
Homer – John Horner 11 run (O’Donnell kick).
Homer – Zachary Barber 1 fumble recovery (O’Donnell kick).
Homer – Horner 4 run (O’Donnell kick).
Homer – Charles Lines 7 run (kick failed).