Homer head coach Gary Podsiedlik said his team is a running team.
The No. 2 Trojans lived up to that and then some, rushing for nine touchdowns against No. 3 Vernon-Verona-Sherrill en route to a 62-49 win Friday night in the NYSPHSAA Section III Class B semifinals.
Homer will play No. 1 New Hartford at 3 p.m. Nov. 13, at the Carrier Dome in Syracuse.
Junior Sam Sorenson did a lot of the damage on the ground, carrying the ball 30 times for 226 yards, six touchdowns and four conversion runs.
Senior Jake Calabro had one of the other touchdowns and senior David Morse had the other two.
Morse left the game after his final score with a head injury and will visit a doctor before determining if he needs to go through concussion protocol.
“It’s what we are, it’s what we do,” Podsiedlik said. “We still pass the ball pretty effectively, we didn’t pass it a ton, but we use the pass to take further control of things on the field and I’m just proud of what we got done.”
Before the injury, Sorenson, Morse and junior Hunter Riehlman powered the offense down the field time and time again, just to have VVS come back. There were only two defensive stops in the entire game; a Homer interception on the first drive of the game and a forced punt by Homer in the second quarter.
The Trojans took a 26-14 lead with 1:02 left in the second quarter. After that, craziness ensued. Senior Ben Wittman completed a pass to senior Bryce Palmer, who took it 56 yards to the house.
The Red Devils recovered the following kickoff after it deflected off a Homer player. With 22 seconds left in the half, Wittman found Palmer again for a 15-yard score. That put V-V-S up 28-26 at the half, the second time this year they’ve led the Trojans at the break.
The two teams traded scored the rest of the way until Homer recovered a kickoff the same way V-V-S did. This recovery happened with 7:43 left in the game.
The Trojans took advantage and Morse scored, but that was the play he was hurt on.
“That special teams turnover, it wasn’t really an onside kick, it just got in the open space, and we recovered it, it changed the confidence level of our sideline,” Podsiedlik said.
The Red Devils responded with another Wittman touchdown pass, but Sorenson punched in his final score with 43 seconds left to seal the deal.
Homer got the ball back with 5:25 left before Sorenson’s last touchdown. They milked the clock with hard-earned first downs to make sure V-V-S got the ball back with next to no time left.
“The way we ran the clock down at the end, with young coaches that doesn’t happen,” Podsiedlik said. “We could’ve stuffed it in early but we said, ‘No, We’re going to take everything we can off this to completely eliminate their chance to win the game.’”
Wittman, who went 2-for-15 with three interceptions in the teams’ first meeting this year, threw four touchdown passes on the night. Junior James Wheeler IV also ran for three scored for the Red Devils.
For next week’s sectional championship game, Podsiedlik said the defense needs to be more crisp to take home the title.
“We didn’t get off blocks on the first two levels, linebackers and D-line,” Podsiedlik said. “We’ve got to improve that. If we don’t improve that we’re going to have trouble beating a team that’s a little bit bigger than us and I think that’s what New Hartford is.”