SYRACUSE — The Homer Trojans celebrated the 600th game in the football program’s history in style with a 40-0 shutout of the ITC Eagles Wednesday night at Fowler High School.
Andrew VanPatten rushed for more than 200 yards and two touchdowns, Jake Calabro passed for 89 yards and three touchdowns and Logan Peck rushed for 51 yards and a touchdown.
It became apparent from the opening kickoff that the Trojans wanted to win this milestone game by any means necessary. And that meant delivering an onside kick on the game’s opening kickoff and recovering it at the ITC 48.
Just two plays later, Calabro found Andrew Lynch down the right sideline for a 44-yard touchdown pass that put gave the Trojans the only score they’d need.
After forcing a turnover on downs on ITC’s first drive — the first of five ITC turnovers on the night — Homer drove 55 yards on six plays, not once facing third down, capped off by a 5-yard touchdown rush by Peck.
Calabro intercepted a pass at his own 3-yard-line to bring an end to the next ITC drive, then found Colin Perks for a 33-yard touchdown pass to pad the lead to 21-0 at the end of the first quarter.
Interestingly, Trojans coach Gary Podsiedlik said that the game was closer than the score indicated. That was in large part due to the second quarter, in which no points were scored and each team turned the ball over twice, once each via fumble and turnover on downs.
“No excuse, there’s a million distractions,” Podsiedlik said. “We’re playing in daylight, there’s car traffic, we never have this anywhere else on the planet…was I disappointed in our play defensively in the second quarter? Yes, but we kept them off the board, we did the things we needed to do to keep the shutout. You can’t lose if you don’t let them score.”
Ultimately, strength in numbers was the key, with the Trojans fielding almost twice the number of players ITC did and the Eagles starting Prince Perry, a junior varsity call-up, at quarterback.
Perry played about as well as the Eagles could have asked for, completing 15 of 23 passes for 93 yards. The Trojan defense prevented him from breaking the 100-yard threshold by limiting six of his completions to zero or negative yards.
The Trojans offense dusted off the second-quarter cobwebs and scored three touchdowns in the second half, two of them rushing scores by VanPatten.
“(VanPatten’s) a great running back with a great attitude,” Podsiedlik said. “He’s playing every down of the game. He’s playing linebacker, he’s playing punter. He doesn’t leave the field ever, and yet he can still rush for over 200 yards.”
Jake Atkins caught one of Calabro’s touchdown passes, then took away a potential ITC touchdown in the fourth quarter with an interception that was a carbon copy of Odell Beckham Jr.’s famous one-handed catch falling away against the Dallas Cowboys in 2014.
The Trojans celebrated the victory on the field with a “family” photo. Podsiedlik and the Trojans coaching staff are inextricably linked with the Homer family and its tradition, with a combined 230 years of coaching, all with the Trojans.
“We have a tradition because of Coach Norris, and I had the privilege of working for him,” Podsiedlik said. “We’ve gotten done in three week’s time what most programs can’t do in six. It was a special win and an important win in the program.”
Homer wraps up its season at 5 p.m. Tuesday at Cortland.
Cortland 32, Westhill 12
Chris MacDuffee had 19 rushes for 106 yards and two touchdowns, and Colin Williams rushed nine times for 113 yards and two touchdowns as part of the Purple Tigers’ second straight win.
Brycen Palmer (eight tackles, fumble recovery), Tyler Gavitt (five tackles, three for loss, one sack) and Jaden Fitch (eight tackles, four for loss, one sack, one forced fubmle) stymied the Westhill offense.
DeRuyter 2, Madison 0
Graycee Forrest and Shakiah Glisson scored for the Rockets and Kelsey Brown made three saves for the home win.
Marathon 6, Union Springs 0
Brooke Tillotson led the Olympians with a hat trick and an assist, and Madison Clark, Abby Ensign and Anna Hoyt also scored as part of the win.
The game was played 9-on9 due to a number of Union Springs players in quarantine.
McGraw 4, Brookfield 1
Bayley Meade scored all four goals for the Eagles, with three of them coming in a 10-minute span in the second half.
Jaiden Cortez made seven saves to secure the victory.
Cincinnatus 6, Otselic Valley 1
The Lions outshot Otselic Valley 40-1, and Kyla Sustad scored the first four goals of the match in a one-sided victory.
Deslinn Rutan and Shayla Temple had the other Cincy goals.
Cincinnatus 7, Otselic Valley 2
Cincy reversed a 2-1 halftime deficit by exploding for six goals in the second half to come away with the win.
Cason Stafford paced the Cincy offense with four goals, and was helped by Scott Schuyler’s three assists.
Canden Stafford and Jacob Smith each scored one goal for Cincy, with the final Lion goal being an own goal committed by OV.
Fulton 3, Cortland 0
The Purple Tigers were swept by scores of 25-11, 2515 and 25-21.
Four players registered double-digit digs for the Tigers Delia Blair (11), Kylie Davie (14), Lexi Zacek (12) and Kristin Rowland (10).