By PAUL LIOTTI
The game was billed as Mentor vs. Pupil.
And the Pupil got the best of his Teacher.
Penn Yan QB Will Rogers continued with his torrid season, passing for 465 yards and 6 TDs to lead the Mustangs to a stunning 49-21 victory over previously undefeated Wayne in Finger Lakes East action Saturday afternoon. The win gave Mustang coach Tim McBride, who played for and coached under Wayne Coach Dave Marean, his first victory over his mentor.
“We are competitors and we all want to win and losses are never easy,” a gracious Marean said. “But I’m happy for him and his success.”
Rogers, who completed 28-of-36 passes, adjusted to the Eagle game plan which was to try and stop the inside run game by hitting his receivers on the outside, primarily Connor Fingar who snared 13 passes for 121 yards and Brennan Pather who made the most of his 4 catches with 174 yards. Both caught 2 TDs. Mekhi Mahan also registered big plays, averaging 31 yards on each of his 3 receptions.
Rogers’ performance also put him over the 2,000-yard mark passing on the season. He currently sits at 2,093 with at least two games remaining. Surprisingly, the 465 yards isn’t a school record; that’s held by Tanner Irwin who set that mark in 2015 when he logged 487 yards. However, the 465 does put Rogers in elite company, as it places him 23rd on the state’s all-time passing game-performance list.
“This game gave us confidence to know we can play with anyone, especially with Sectionals coming up,” said McBride. “Our offensive line did an excellent job protecting Will so he could make the right read and right throws.”
Wayne (5-1) came into the game ranked 10th in the NYS Sportswriters Association Class B poll. The Eagles had been holding teams at bay allowing just 18.8 points a game while have been scoring 45.4 points a game. This wasn’t the case on Saturday as Penn Yan jumped out to a 2-score lead early and then held the Eagles at arm’s length the remainder of the game. Fingar also starred on defense, logging 23 tackles and stopping a late Wayne drive by returning an interception 60 yards to the house.
Penn Yan (5-1) is also ranked by the NYSSWA, spending two weeks at #19 in Class C. The Mustangs will be atop the Class C Sectional standings Wednesday night, jumping Letchworth/Warsaw and top seed East Rochester-Gananda. While ER-G and L/W won this weekend, they beat teams with only 1 win between them, and the Mustangs’ victory against a 5-win Eagle team will give them more power seeding points than their than either ER-G or L/W.
“We expected Penn Yan to be very physical and they were, but we didn’t respond to it,” Marean said. “Right off the bat down 14-0 and every time we got to within a score we just couldn’t close the gap. We made mistakes and couldn’t get points after we forced 2 turnovers and recovered an onsides kick. Against a caliber of team like Penn Yan, it’s tough to win when that happens.”
The Eagles were led by QB Grayson Zenelovic who completed 26-of-35 passes for 217 yards and a TD. Starting RB Billy Thompson was knocked out of the game early in the first quarter, and backup Jonah Reagan filled in gaining 120 yards.
Wayne’s loss sent the FL East league into a three-way tie between Penn Yan, Wayne and ER-Gananda. All three teams are 1-1 against each other in the league’s round-robin format, as Wayne beat ER-G in OT in Week 1 and Penn Yan beat ER-G (NYSSWA #15) in Week 3.
“It just goes to show everyone how tough the Finger Lakes East is,” McBride said. “All three teams are state ranked and will be tough to beat in Sectionals.”