SOLVAY — It was not a typical low-scoring slugfest when the Homer Central football team travel to Al Merola Field to face Section 3 B West leader Solvay Friday for the final night of the regular season.
When the final horn sounded, the Bearcats came away with a 55-41 Senior Night victory and the B West crown after a 7-0 season. The Trojans slip to 3-4, but are still the fourth team to advance to the playoffs from the B West Division. Homer is tied with Bishop Ludden (3-4), a 25-6 winner at Cortland, but owns the tiebreaker thanks to a 35-26 win over the Gaelic Knights Sept. 27.
“Solvay wasn’t playing its best early in the game, but they realized we were coming after them,” Homer coach Gary Podsiedlik said. “They realized we weren’t here just to play the game. They knew we came to win and we woke them up. That is a great team and they are well coached. They have everything you need to be successful. They have speed and they have size.
“Despite the result, we got better again this week,” he continued. “We played as if we trusted everything we were doing. Great athletes make great plays and that was the difference tonight. This is why high school football is the greatest. Two teams out there laying it all on the line. I’m proud of our kids tonight.”
Senior quarterback Brock Bagozzi had a solid game for Solvay. Bagozzi completed 11-of-16 passing attempts for 324 yards and five touchdowns. Justin Scott was his favorite target with five receptions for 247 yards and three touchdowns, the shortest of those scoring catches was 53 yards. Bagozzi also ran the ball seven times for 89 yards and one touchdown.
Homer had a pair of 100-yard rushers. Andrew Van Patten carried the ball 35 times for 154 yards and three touchdowns. Logan Peck added 14 carries for 100 yards and two touchdowns.
The Homer defense made the first statement as it forced Bagozzi into an intentional grounding penalty on third down at the Bearcats’ 20-yard line. The pass initiated at two-yard line and the loss of down forced a punt that only reached the Solvay 18. A second down pass from Dylan Yacavone to Matt McUmber netted 14 yards, but was a yard short of a touchdown. Van Patten powered into the end zone on the next
play as the Trojans took a 7-0 lead.
That bad punt was one of the only things Solvay did wrong all night. The scoring onslaught really began after the first Homer score. Bagozzi went to the air attack and he tossed a 53 yard touchdown pass to Scott to tie the game one minute after the Trojan score.
Van Patten scored his second touchdown on a four yard run to cap a 10-play drive with 5:03 left in the first quarter to give Homer a 14-7 lead. One minute later, Blaine Franklin broke free on a 46-yard scoring dash for the Bearcats to tie the game at 14-14.
Homer caught a break when a roughing the passer penalty at the Solvay six yard line on fourth down extended the drive. Van Patten scored from one yard out and Homer led 21-14 with 10:24 left in the second quarter.
After an exchange of punts, the Bearcats connected an 80 yard scoring
strike from Bagozzi to Scott and the game was tied at 21-21 with 4:41 left in the half.
Solvay held Homer to a three-and out series. Three plays later the Bearcats took their first lead with 1:19 left on the clock. Bagozzi found Russell Tarbell open, and 45 yards later, Tarbell found the end zone for a 28-21 halftime lead.
The Trojans opened the second half with a seven play drive that Logan Peck finished off with a 20-yard touchdown run to knot the score at 28-28.
Bagozzi began using his legs in the second half. Runs of 30 and 15 yards helped get Solvay to the Homer seven- yard line. Bagozzi flipped a seven yard scoring pass to Zach Bowen for a 34-28 lead.
This time, Homer came back to even things at 34-34. Peck broke free for a 21-yard run into the end zone seven seconds into the fourth quarter.
Bagozzi tossed a 27 yard pass to Scott and followed with a 17 yard run of his own to the Homer nine yard line. Bagozzi ran those final nine yards to put the Bearcats on top 41-34 with 10:25 remaining in the game.
The only turnover by either team came on the ensuing kickoff. The Trojans fumbled the ball at their own 31-yard line on the return and Solvay recovered. Five plays later, Franklin ran into the end zone from four yards out and the Solvay lead grew to 48-34 with 7:44 to go.
Homer punted the ball and Solvay needed just three plays to put the game away. Bagozzi found Scott open. Scott broke a couple of tackles, kept his footing and ran 79 yards yards after the catch for a 55-34 advantage with 4:44 to play.
The Trojans mounted one last scoring drive. With 44 seconds remaining, Yacavone raced in from 13 yards out to make the final score 55-41.
The seedings and first round match-ups will be announced Sunday, but it appears the Trojans will travel to Oneida to start the post-season march to the Carrier Dome. Oneida (7-0) won the B East Division with a 13-6 win over New Hartford (6-1) in the battle for the division crown.