BY PAUL LIOTTI
HONEOYE FALLS — Three weeks ago, it was the hook-and-ladder.
Saturday afternoon, it will simply be known as “The Drive.”
Honeoye Falls-Lima quarterback Turner Wilson engineered an 86-yard drive with no timeouts in the last 1:30 of the game before connecting with Mitch Slymon from two yards out with 5.9 seconds left to stun UPrep (No. 28 NYSSWA Class B) 14-8 in front of a raucous Cougar homecoming crowd.
“Wow we certainly have a flair for the dramatic,” HFL coach John Russ said. “We made completions when we had to and the guys made the plays. The big catch by Cary VanNewKirk down the sideline picked up our confidence and had our kids believing that we would score.”
The Cougars (6-1) took over on their own 14-yard line with 1:30 left in the game, trailing 8-6. Wilson completed his first pass to VanNewkirk for 11 yards and after an incompletion, the two connected for a 38-yarder down the sideline to put the ball on the Griffin 37.
A six-yard pass to Derek Childs and a two-yard pass to VanNewKirk set up a 25-yard pass from Wilson to Childs, who snuck in behind the UPrep secondary and was tackled at the four-yard line with 16.9 seconds left. A delay of game by UPrep and two fade pass incompletions to Childs left HFL with a third down at the two-yard line. A simple down and out put Slymon in the corner of the end zone and Wilson delivered a perfect pass to where only Slymon could get to it: down and to the outside.
“We just all got together and said we needed this and they said you’re our leader, lead us down the field,” Wilson said.
“I will definitely remember that play for the rest of my life,” Slymon said. “That’s our bread-and-butter play: we ran it in the first and second weeks and it worked. But other teams started reading that play and shut it down. But we knew it would work this time.”
And it wasn’t the first time the Cougars finished with a heart-pounding ending.
Two weeks ago, the Cougars pulled a rabbit out of their hats, scoring on a hook-and-ladder play when Turner Wilson passed to Childs who then lateralled to running back Mason Ferrara who took it into the end zone untouched as time expired, giving HFL a 20-19 win over Odessa Montour. That drive also started 80 yards from the end zone with less than a minute to go in the game.
That play was almost duplicated as the Cougars had that flea-flicker called in the series just before the dramatic game-ender.
“We actually had thought about putting in the hook and ladder on the second-to-last drive, but they read it and we backed off,” said Wilson, who completed 15-of-26 passes for 158 yards.
The win marked the sixth-consecutive win for the Cougars, who now have to wait to see who they play in Round 1 of the Class B Sectional tournament.
The game was critical for both teams as they jockeyed for Class B Sectional seedings. HFL entered the game as the classification’s fourth-place team and UPrep (5-2) as the fifth. The winner would clinch a home game in Round 1, which starts next week. There is a good chance the two teams will meet again next week back in Honeoye Falls.
Which would mean the Cougars would have to face the Griffins defense, something they won’t be looking forward to.
UPrep’s size and speed limited HFL all afternoon, especially in the second half.
Until the last drive, HFL ran 18 plays and gained just 40 yards – and 34 of them came on a run by Mason Ferrara.
“I’m a defensive minded coach and we have some excellent defensive coaches on our staff,” UPrep head coach Kala Gause. “We emphasize defense and (it starts) with Devon Jackson who can play two or three places on the field and is very smart when it comes to reading what the offense is doing.”
Jackson was in a number of stops, including the biggest stop of the game to that point.
Facing fourth-and-seven from their own 35 with 2:15, Wilson was sacked from the blindside by Jackson who sped off the edge past the backside blocker. That was a number of plays Jackson throughout the game.
“They presented a lot of problems for us on offense; they are very big and physical and UPrep did a great job of scheming us,” Russ said.
But the Griffins couldn’t move the ball after taking possession, and punted away to set up HFL’s fateful final drive.
While UPrep shined on defense in throughout the game, the Cougars held their own in the first half, shutting out the Griffins and negating the team speed UPrep and power rushing game. Through the first 24 minutes, UPrep managed just 75 yards of offense in 13 plays, and one of those plays was a 25-yard strike from Tamar Penn to Perryione Brown.
“They did a heckuva job taking away things that we are used to. We’re typically a team that can pound the ball down the field or get to the outside and use our speed. Their interior linemen and linebackers did a great job filling the holes and we couldn’t Cassius (Facen) on the outside. They did what they were supposed to do.”
HFL drew first blood when Wilson rolled out and found Childs near the pylon from 24 yards out early in the second quarter. A missed PAT gave the Cougars a 6-0 lead they took into halftime.
Other than that scoring drive, both teams failed to gain traction in the opening half, as of the 48 total plays run from scrimmage, 13 were stopped at or behind the line.
“It was real tough out there today,” Wilson said. “We knew going in that they were going to be athletic and tough and they were.”
UPrep took the lead after Facen set the Griffins up with a 49-yard return of the third-quarter opening kickoff. It took the Griffins six plays to travel the 37 yards, the last eight on run by Brown. Brown added the two point conversion and UPrep was up 8-6.
Facen led all rushers in the game with 64 yards on 11 carries. Ferrara ended up nine-for-53. Childs was the game’s leading receiver with eight catches for 101 yards and the score.
|HFL||Derek Childs 24 pass from Turner Wilson (kick failed)|
|UPrep||Perryione Brown 8 rush (Brown run)|
|HFL||Mitch Slymon 2 pass from Turner Wilson (Slymon pass from Wilson)|
|UPrep||Cassius Facen 11-64, Perryione Brown 6-16, Anthony McCoy 2-13, Tamar Penn 1-6, Ray Rivera 1-5, Jakai Lucas 9-(-1), Jamir Miller 1-(-2)|
|HFL||Mason Ferrara 9-53, Peter Romig 6-17, Justin Wyatt 1-13, Turner Wilson 14-(-11)|
|UPrep||Law Watts 2-4-50-0-0, Tamar Penn 2-10-24-0-0|
|HFL||Turner Wilson 15-26-158-2-1,|
|UPrep||Perryione Brown 2-65, Jakai Lucas 15-10, Cassius Facen 1-(-1)|
|HFL||Derek Childs 8-101, Cary VanNewkirk 4-48, Mason Ferrara 2-9, Mitch Slymon 3-0|