All this young Cortland High varsity football team needed was a little spark to build some confidence and Collin Williams provided that Friday night as the Purple Tigers played their first home game on Moiseichik Field.
Williams provided one on offense. The Purple Tigers were great on defense and the special teams lent a hand as Cortland rolled to a 31-12 Section 3 B West Division win over Westhill for its first win of the season.
“The guys played great,” Cortland coach Pete Reif said. “They were excited for their first home game. We were fortunate to have some success early in the game and the kids realized they could do it. One good thing led to another and we kept it rolling.”
“The offensive line played much better,” Reif added. “This was their best performance and Collin made some great decisions on when to run the ball or when to throw it.”
Williams ran the ball 28 times for 161 yards and two first half touchdowns before throwing for two more touchdowns in the second half as the junior quarterback completed 13 of 21 passing attempts for 105 yards.
“We had a tough practice on Monday,”Williams said. “The coaches stressed we needed to pull it together and we seemed to work in a cohesive manner to pull out this win.
“My performance doesn’t mean anything if the other guys don’t work for it. We all worked super hard for this. Everybody has to do their job. It’s 11 men versus 11 men every play. Everyone contributed tonight.”
“Everyone put the work in tonight,” Cortland linebacker Brycen Palmer said. “It feels really good, but we have to do it again. We’ve got to bring the work, the effort every game.”
The special teams got things started for Cortland (1-2 division and overall) in the first quarter with a hard hit by Riley Sabin who knocked the ball loose from Westhill punt returner Jose Gonzalez. Marcus Hines jumped on the loose ball at the Cortland 31-yard line.After a five yard penalty, Williams ran off the right end and bolted down the sideline for a 64-yard touchdown run to give Cortland a 6-0 lead with two minutes left in the first quarter.
It was three-and-out for Westhill (1-2 division and overall) on the next Warriors possession. Nikolas Bistrovich tried to punt the ball on fourth down from his own 34 yard line, but Sabin blocked the ball and recovered it at the Westhill 15 yard line. Four plays later, Williams called his own number from the one yard line and his sneak gave Cortland a 12-0 lead over the Warriors three seconds into second quarter play.
Westhill got on the scoreboard three minutes later when Gonzalez floated the ball over the Cortland secondary to Jack Mooney who raced 56 yards for the touchdown and pulled the Warriors to within 12-6 with 9:14 left in the first half.
Westhill threatened at the end of the third quarter. Kinney fired a pass from the Cortland 26-yard line that bounced off the hands of Gonzalez and was intercepted in the end zone by Hines for the Purple Tigers.
The scored remained the same until the 6:42 mark of the fourth quarter when two teams combined for 19 points in a 42 second span. Williams tossed an eight yard scoring pass to Jaden Fitch for a touchdown for an 18-6 a Cortland dvantage. After returning the kickoff back to their own 44, Garvin Kinney hit Gonzalez with a 56-yard scoring pass as Westhill was pulled to within 18-12. The Purple Tigers were not phased as Williams threw a little swing pass to Fitch in the right flat. Fitch turned upfield and pulled away for a 25-12 advantage. Jordan Murray broke free and ran 52 yards with 1:52 remaining for a 31-12 cushion for the Purple Tigers.
Cortland held the ball for 16 minutes in the second half to Westhill’s eight. The Purple Tiger defense limited Westhill to 47 rushing yards in the second half and 111 for the game on 36 carries. The Purple Tigers rushed for 234 yards on 37 carries. Fitch was the favorite target of Williams as he made nine catches for 115 yards and two touchdowns. Kinney was 9 for 26 throwing the ball for 173 yards. Gonzalez was on the receiving end six times for 113 yards.
Cortland will be back on the road next Friday. The Purple Tigers travel to South Jefferson for a 7 p.m. kickoff in B West Division action.