By JOHN LIKANJE
EAST ROCHESTER, N.Y. – After exploding for 46 points last weekend, the LeRoy Knights varsity football team struggled to get going against the physical East Rochester/Gananda defensive line. Besides a safety at the start of the second quarter, Brian Herdlein’s squad racked up 123 yards of offense through the first 21 minutes of game action.
However, a touchdown at the end of the first half springboarded the Knights’ offense to score 23 points in the final two periods to take down the Bombers, 32-7, on a moonlit Friday night at Don Quinn Field.
“Offensively, we were moving the ball early on, but penalties were killing us,” Herdlein explained. “We had a couple of drives where we had some big plays that were called back by holding.”
Holding a 2-0 edge with 2:40 remaining in the second quarter, seniors Jake Hill and Kyler LaCarte combined for four carries and 24 yards through the first five plays on a drive that started at the Bombers’ 37-yard line. On 1st-and-10 from the 12-yard line, LaCarte galloped past two defenders into the end zone for a 9-0 lead heading to the locker room.
“We just had to focus more,” LaCarte said. “We talked about it all week in practice. We had to be mentally focused. We came into the game as underdogs. We just had to prove a point.”
“That was huge,” Herdlein said about scoring at the end of the half. “Obviously, getting the safety to start off with gives us some confidence. Then we got good field position after that.”
Senior Chase Bordonaro picked off a touchdown pass – his second interception of the night – to stop an 11-play, 36-yard drive from the Bombers. On the ensuing play, Hill sprinted up the left sideline for a 99-yard touchdown run and gave the Knights a commanding 16-0 advantage.
“That’s two games in a row where I believe our starting defense has actually had a shutout going,” Herdlein said. “With him (Bordonaro) over at top, we knew that they (East Rochester/Gananda) liked to try to push the ball down the field. Our corners and him did a great job all night just not letting anything behind them and he made two big plays for us.”
.@SecVFootball – @LeroyFootball vs. @ERGFootball: Chase Bordonaro’s 2nd interception of the game sets up a 99-yard TD run for Jake Hill. 4:48 3Q: LeRoy 16 East Rochester/Gananda 0. @PickinSplinters pic.twitter.com/FAYeyK2WeK— John Mitchell Likanje Junior (@jml5798) September 14, 2019
Despite throwing five passes for 32 yards, Hill scrambled for 13 carries and 150 more.
“He’s been great all season,” LaCarte said about Hill. “He worked hard in the offseason in the weight room every day. They beat us, 70-0, three years ago when we first got pulled up, so we wanted to make a statement.”
LaCarte had 10 carries for a pair of rushing touchdowns. The senior running back tallied 46 of his 67 yards in the second half.
“My line did a great job opening up the holes,” LaCarte said. “I really got to thank them.”
“He had pretty good vision tonight,” Herdlein said about his senior running back. “Some of the plays were designed to go inside. They took that away and he bounced it out and was able to beat a guy to the end zone.”
Andrew Englerth bullied the Bombers’ defense for nine carries and 135 rushing yards. The senior fullback had a 64-yard run at the end of the third quarter to set up a touchdown for himself as well.
.@SecVFootball – @LeroyFootball vs. East Rochester/Gananda: Andrew Englert hurdles into the end zone from 12 yards out. 11:17 4Q: LeRoy 25 East Rochester/Gananda 0. @PickinSplinters pic.twitter.com/LEx6mGqyc4— John Mitchell Likanje Junior (@jml5798) September 14, 2019
Junior wide receiver Cody Lytle caught a pair of passes for 32 yards.
After being held to two points through their first five drives, the Knights scored a touchdown on four of the next five possessions. Herdlein’s squad compiled 442 yards of offense, including 399 on the ground, and held the Bombers to one third-down conversion in nine attempts.
“Our defense, we work on it a lot in practice,” LaCarte explained. “We just work on responsibility, playing the gaps and it’ll follow through.”
For East Rochester/Gananda, running back TJ Swagler led the offense with 17 carries for 74 yards. Chaunsey Gilbert scored the Bombers’ only points of the game on a three-yard run with 2:45 left in the game.
Gerald Brongo, Brandon Gray and Swagler had two tackles apiece. Brongo picked off a pass as well.
LeRoy’s home opener is next Friday against Caledonia-Mumford/Byron Bergen at 7:30 p.m. East Rochester/Gananda matches up with Waterloo Friday at 7 p.m.