CHITTENANGO — The Homer Central football team’s season came to an end with a big thud Saturday at Chittenango.
The seventh-seeded Trojans turned the ball over three times in the first half and second seed Cazenovia converted those mistakes into three touchdowns to build a 27-14 halftime lead before rolling to a 61- 21 Section 3 Class B first-round victory in a rematch of the 2017 Class B finalists. Homer won that contest 28-20, but Saturday’s loss ended the 2018 season for the Trojans with a record of 4-4. Cazenovia (7-1) will face sixth seed Oneida (6-2) in one the the semifinal contests Friday at Fayettevill-Manlius.
“We did talk a bit about revenge all week long,” Cazenovia senior quarterback Drew Johnson said. “We respect their program a lot, but we wanted nothing more than to beat them this time.”
Johnson did his part by running the Lakers’ option offense very efficientl . He rushed for 192 yards on 15 carries and scored three touchdowns as Cazenovia piled up 434 yards on the ground. Johnson also completed four-of-six passing attempts for 77 yards and one touchdown.
“I’m getting used to the option a lot,” Johnson said after getting hit whether running the ball, pitching it to a running back or completed a pass. “I just give all the credit to my linemen. They have been working hard all week on the game plan the coaches put in and we went out an executed.”
“It was a good team effort today,” Cazenovia coach Jay Steinhorst said. “We blew a couple of main coverages early and it hurt us, but the guys came through in the end. We knew we would be up for a battle with Homer. We’ve been doing this for 20 years or more. Today we happened to come out on top and are happy about that.
“Drew is kind of sneaky fast. He is a tall kid (6–4, 175 pounds), so maybe he doesn’t look as fast as he is, but he is deceptively quick. He makes the right adjustments at the line of scrimmage almost all the time.” Cazenovia is 10-5 in the all-time series that dates back to 1956.
Homer took the opening kickoff and marched 75 yards in nine plays with the help of a fake punt and pass from Dylan Yacavone to Aaron Newcomb for 22 yards and a first down. Andrew Van Patten capped the drive with a 34-yard run on third down with 8:17 left in the first quarter. Connor Matthews added the extra point and the Trojans were up 7-0.
The first Cazenovia drive stalled and the Lakers were forced to punt. Two plays into their next series, the Trojans fumbled and Cazenovia recovered at the Homer 28-yard line. Five plays later, Ryan Romagnoli bolted into the end zone from 11 yards out. Evan Murray booted the extra point and the game was tied at 7-7 with 3:346 left in the quarter.
Homer was driving when Yacavone’s pass was a little high and James Pavelchak made the interception at the Lakers’ three-yard line and returned the ball to the 21. Johnson completed a 19-yard pass and followed with runs of 25 and 27 yards to get to the Homer eight-yard line. After a loss of one yard by Pavelchak, Johnson raced the remaining nine yards for a 14-7 Cazenovia lead with 54 seconds left in the first quarter.
Homer was forced to punt, but got the ball back quickly early in the second quarter. Hunter White stripped the ball from Johnson after a 10-yard gain and Nick Parker recovered the ball at the Cazenovia 42. The Trojans got the the 19-yard line after a 22 yard pass from Yacavone to Matt McUmber. Five straight runs by Van Patten got the ball into the end zone and the game was deadlocked at 14-14 with 7:15 left in the half.
Cazenovia responded with a six-play drive that Johnson finished with a 21-yard run as the Lakers retook a 21-14 lead with 2:33 left in the half. Three plays later, Pavelchak picked off an errant pass and returned it for the touchdown and a 27-14 lead with 1:35 left before halftime.
Big plays were the final nails in the coffin for Homer as the third quarter began. Johnson broke free on a 63-yard scoring run two minutes into the quarter. The Trojans stalled and punted on their next series and Romagnoli returned the ball 40 yards for another touchdown just 1:40 later. After another Homer punt, Johnson finished a seven-play drive with a 24-yard scoring pass to Pavelchak and the Laker lead was 47- 15 with 2:51 left in the third quarter.
Cazenovia’s Tony Heaney run for a 74-yard touchdown two minutes into the fourth quarter for a 54-14 cushion before Homer finally got on the scoreboard again.
Van Patten’s 33rd and final carry of his 205-yard day went for 24 yards and Joe Brady ended the drive with a 20-yard dash with 8:05 to play.
The Lakers ended the scoring with 7:03 to go on a 64-yard scoring jaunt by Vito Borio.
Yacavone completed four passes in nine attempts for 71 yards with two interceptions. Newcomb caught three passes for 50 yards. The Trojans gained 268 yards on the ground.
“I loved the game plan we had going into the game and I loved how the first quarter went,” Homer coach Gary Podsiedlik said. “We didn’t execute a few times and they did a get job of blocking our players on the edge. They (Cazenovia) are truly an option team and they were good at reading the defense and making the plays. It also hurt when we starting shooting ourselves in the foot on offense, but we were still in it at halftime.
“When we gave up that initial touchdown to open the second half, that was costly. It hurt us emotionally. Cazenovia just executed better than us from that point on. They really seized the momentum and you have to tip your hat to them.”
It was a tough way for the season to end for the Homer seniors, but Podsiedlik said he was grateful for all that every one of them did.
Trojan tidbits: Blue Collar Man Awards went to Damien Hoyt (line) and Collin McNeill (non-line) for this week…For the season, Van Patten ran the ball 198 times for 1,219 yards and 11 touchdowns.