October 20, 2021

Trojans roll in record-setting romp

Joe McIntyre/staff photographer

Cortland’s Matt Fernandes, right, brings down Homer’s John Horner III, preventing a touchdown run in the first quarter of the Trojans’ 59-0 romp Friday night.

It will go down as the most lopsided Home-Cort Jug Game in history.

Tucker O’Donnell threw four touchdown passes to four different players, kicked a 36-yard field goal and ran for a touchdown as the Homer Central football team shut out Cortland High 59-0 Friday night at George Butts Field. The previous biggest differential was a 55-6 Trojan win in 2014.

Homer improves to 2-0 in Section 3 B West Division play and overall. Cortland falls to 0-2 in division and overall play. The Trojans have won six straight Home-Cort Jug contests and have a 23-15-1 advantage in the series.

“We got our ground game going early,” O’Donnell said after a 6-for-12 passing night for 90 yards to complement 307 Trojan rushing yards. “The running game always helps with our play-action game. The line blocked great and the receivers ran great routes. They all made my job very easy.”

“Tucker had an exceptional game, but it really was a team game for everyone,” Homer coach Gary Podsiedlik said. “We ran the ball out of the spread formation and play-action plays really helps us. We didn’t have as many big plays, but it was a great effort by the kids.”

What also made O’Donnell’s job easy was a Homer defense that allowed minus-38 yards rushing and 33 passing yards, sacked Purple Tiger quarterback Brandon Ludwig four times, recovered one of three fumbles and picked off two errant passes. Cortland managed just one first down all night. The Trojans did not turn the ball over in the game.

“We did play good team defense,” Podsiedlik said. “We made a couple of mistakes, but it was very good overall. That comes from trusting your teammates. If we keep doing that it gives us a chance to play more offense and wear teams down. Our special teams play was also solid. We made some nice tackles on returns.”

“It was an embarrassing performance, that’s what it really was,” Cortland coach Pete Reif said. “The plan was to stop the running game by slowing the guard coming out, Homer doesn’t change what they do. The guards are the key to their offense. If you don’t let them pull then they don’t have that lead blocker.

“We did a decent job here and there with that,” he added. “We completely lost coverage.The secondary came up on run support when they should have been pass first. We had blown coverage after blown coverage.”

Despite his frustration, Reif knew it would be a tough game to win, but could have been closer.

“We knew we couldn’t just line up and play with Homer,” Reif said. “They are a lot bigger and a lot stronger. They have a deeper roster than ours. That’s just how it is this year. We didn’t execute the things we needed to, to be successful.”

Homer took a 14-0 lead in the first quarter when O’Donnell completed touchdown passes to Charles Lines (5 yards, 5:55) and Dominick Natale (28 yards, 2:22). O’Donnell was a perfect eight-for-eight on extra-point kicks.

The Trojans made it 21-0 with 10:10 left in the first half when O’Donnell tossed a five-yard scoring strike to Zachary Barber. Justin Wainwright picked off a Ludwig pass and returned it 28 yards to the Purple Tiger 25-yard line. The Cortland defense kept Homer off the board after that turnover, the second interception was a different story. Dante Yacavone picked off Ludwig at the Purple Tiger 40 and returned the ball two yards. On the very next play, John Horner III went off the right side of the Trojan line and dashed 38 yards to paydirt and a 28-0 halftime lead with 2:31 left.

All four Homer sacks of Ludwig came in the first half. Vinny Basile shared one with Austin Matthys and another with Barber. Krillin Drake and Stephen Walter had solo sacks as Cortland had 19 yards passing and minus-22 yards rushing.

Homer took the second half kickoff and marched 52 yards for a touchdown. O’Donnell snuck across the goal-line from the one yard line. Walter recovered a fumble to set up O’Donnell’s 36-yard field goal as the Trojans led 38-0 with 7:07 left in the third quarter. The next Homer possession went 46 yards in six plays as Walter caught a 17 yard pass from O’Donnell for the 45-0 advantage.

Natale took over quarterback duties in the fourth quarter and got his second touchdown of the on a one-yard run. Gabe Cline capped the Trojan scoring with a 40-yard dash with 1:40 remaining.

Horner was the leading rusher for Horner with 19 carries for 143 yards. In all, 11 Trojan rushers accounted for the 307 yards. Outside of the scoring passes, Lines had a second catch and Yacavone had one for 37 yards.

Ludwig was five-for-11 passing for 33 yards. Noah Barber had three catches for 22 yards and George Hines two catches for 11 yards. Hines was the top Purple Tiger runner with one carry for four yards. Barber carried the ball three times for three yards.

Homer and Cortland will return to B West action next week with Friday games. Homer heads to Solvay and Cortland will travel to Chittenango. Both games have 6:30 p.m. kickoffs.