There is always plenty of excitement when Marcellus and Homer Central meet on the football field and it was no different Friday night as the Mustangs pulled out a 37-29 Section 3 Class B West Division victory on Butts Field.
Nate Garlow caught two touchdown passes and senior quarterback Tom Fiacchi ran for three more as Marcellus evened its division and overall record at 1-1, snapping a four-game losing streak to Homer.
After trimming a 31-13 deficit to with two points in the fourth quarter, the Trojans exited their home turf 0-1 in division play and 1-1 overall.
“It was a really big win,” Mustang senior running back Nate Garlow said after he rushed for 98 yards and had 142 receiving yards including two touchdowns. “I can’t remember the last time we beat this team.
“We made some big mistakes,” he added. “It became a game again, but I wanted to just put the foot to the pedal and keep going. Homer played a good second half and worked their way back into the game.”
“This was a big game,” Marcellus head coach Joe Fiacchi said. “You don’t want to go 0-2 because then you are fighting for everything. The atmosphere here is so great for football.
“We came out and played a better game than we did last week,” he continued. “That was key for us. Homer knows how to win and I knew they would hit us with everything they have. We bent a little, got a little fatigued, but we made a couple of big plays and had a couple of drives to seal the win.”
For Homer coach Gary Podsiedlik, it will be a night to see what happened and regroup quickly.
“We are going to be disappointed with the mistakes we made,” Podsiedlik said. “We put ourselves in a position to win. Even when we thought we had lost for good, we blocked a kick and still had a chance to comeback and tie the game to force overtime. It was an exciting, ugly high school football game. The toughness was there and the effort was definitely there.”
MARCELLUS TOOK A quick 7-0 lead when Fiacchi ran 45 yards on the read-option to cap a six-play, 80 yard opening drive. Fiacchi passes of 17 and 11 yards to Garlow were big gainers until the quarterback broke free on his scoring run.
Homer answered back with a seven-play drive of its own.
Senior quarterback Jacob Rivers ran a 25-yard bootleg on third down to moved the Trojans to the Marcellus 19-yard line. After a Kevin Bush 11-yard run, Rivers was sacked, but found Matt Guerrera on the very next play for a 13-yard scoring strike with 6:05 left in the opening quarter.
Both defenses controlled the rest of the quarter before the Mustangs took a 10-7 lead on Fiacchi’s 33-yard field goal with 11:04 left in the first half.
The Trojans needed just four plays to take its only lead on the night. John Horner broke loose and scampered 74 yards down the Homer sidelines with Matt Reich making a touchdown saving tackle at the Mustang 6-yard line. Two plays, Horner blasted in from the two and the Trojans led 13-10 after the missed extra point with 9:45 left in the half.
Homer ‘s lead was shortlived as Marcellus went into its bag of tricks for a quick score.
On third down at the Homer 49, Fiacchi took the snap and pitched the ball to Garlow running to his left. Garlow handed the ball off to Matt Shoemaker on a reverse, but just before he was hit, he pitched the ball back to Fiacchi who then competed a pass to Garlow in the left flat. Garlow headed down the Marcellus sideline and made two nice cutbacks to avoid tacklers and raced into the end zone. Marcellus led 17-10 with nine minutes remaining in the half.
“We like to sweep the ball to the outside,” Garlow explained. “By revesring the play, it really confuses the defense. Our scout team sees it everyday and can’t stop it. That play helped, but we made some other big plays too.”
“We call that play Pedro.” Fiacchi said. “There is a lot of trickery to it, but it works. You can catch a team at the right moment. It was a big pick-me-up for us.”
AFTER A QUICK three-and-out by Homer, Fiacchi threw a little screen pass to Garlow and 65 yards later the Mustang advantage grew to 24-13.
The two teams exchanged fumbles with four minutes to go in the half. A Fiacchi punt pinned Homer at its own 1-yard line with 1:57 to go, but a 32-yard Matt Guerrera run gave the Trojans some breathing room. Back-to-back 12 yard runs by Rivers and Horner, plus a pass interference call got Homer to the Mustang 27, but would run out of time before the halftime horn sounded.
With 14 straight points to close out the first half, Marcellus caught a huge break on the second half kickoff. With the Homer deep return man near his own five yard line, Fiacchi hit a high kick with backspin on it. The ball dropped at the 10 and kicked back towards the Mustangs. Liam Tierney fell on the loose ball and Marcellus at the ball at the Homer 15. Two plays later, Fiacchi ran to paydirt from 12 yards out for a 31-10 Mustang lead.
“We knew Homer would come out roaring in the second half,” Fiacchi said. “We matched touchdowns early to stay ahead.”
The Trojans came roaring back with 16 unanswered points. It began with a 13-play, 80 yard drive.
Horner dashed 23 yards on the first play and the drive appeared to stall near midfield until a fake punt on fourth down. The snap came to Rivers who was in front of punter Bush. Rivers delivered a strike to Dante Yacavone for a 17-yard gain. A short Rivers run on second down was aided by a personal foul penalty. The drive continued and Bush capped things with a 1-yard run with 6:17 left in the third quarter.
THE TROJAN DEFENSE ended the next Marcellus drive as Guerrera picked off a Fiacchi pass at the Mustang 43. Homer marched to the Marcellus 24 where Rivers was forced to scramble and found an open Guerrera in the end zone for an apparent touchdown, but the Trojans were flagged for an offensive lineman downfield. Homer came up short on fourth down after a 13-yard run by Krillin Drake as Marcellus took over at its own seven-yard line.
Here the Homer defense forced a punt, but the snapped sailed over Fiacchi’s head and into the end zone. Fiacchi kicked the ball out of the back of the end zone for a safety and two more Trojans points as the deficit dropped to 31-22 with 11:46 left in the fourth quarter.
Homer took the free kick at their own 33-yard line and drove to the Marcellus five. The Trojans had to settle for a 22-yard field goal attempt that missed the mark.
Momentum stayed with the Trojans as Yacavone picked off Fiacchi on the first play from scrimmage and returned to ball to the Mustang 20.
After a procedure penalty pushed Homer back five yards, Rivers lofted a pass to Yacavone in the end zone for a 25-yard touchdown. Homer trailed 31-29 with 5:07 left in the game.
Homer forced Marcellus into a third down and four at the 30-yard line, but a encroachment penalty on the Trojan defense gave Marcellus a first down. Garlow broke a 48 yard run on the next play to the Homer 17. Three running plays by Fiacchi capped the drive as the Mustangs led 37-29 with 1:57 to go.
With no timeouts, Homer got to its own 44 on third down when Rivers fumbled the snap, but recovered the ball. Confusion between the coaches and Rivers as to what down it was led to a spiking of the ball to stop the clock, but it was fourth down and the ball went back to Marcellus. Fiacchi took a knee to end the game.
FIACCHI RUSHED FOR 49 yards while completing 5-of-15 passing attempts for 151 yards.
Horner had a big night for Homer as the junior rushed for 180 yards on 18 carries. Bush netted 78 yards on 18 carries.
Homer will look to regroup for a trip to Skaneateles for a 7 p.m. kickoff next Friday.The Lakers are 1-1 in the division after a 34-7 win over Westhill Friday. The Warriors are 1-1 while Chittenango sits atop the division at 2-0, Homer and Solvay at both 0-1 in the division while Syracuse Tech Central is 0-2.