Kicking and defense advance Fayetteville-Manlius to second round in 22-14 win

first_imgOn Aug. 21, Fayetteville-Manlius head coach Paul Muench laid out what it would take for the Hornets to achieve their goals this season: an improved defense. Almost two months later, those words proved prophetic. With seconds remaining, Corcoran faced a fourth down from the six-yard line, down eight points. Dewayne Young dropped back but was quickly pressured. Three F-M defenders brought Young to the ground. He stayed there, head to the turf, his junior season over. The Hornets defenders sprinted to the sideline, arms raised, and their season alive for one more week.“It shows a lot of character,” Muench said. “I think with this team, we kind of do what we had to do.”The F-M (6-2) defense won the field position battle and the Hornets cashed in when they needed to. Massimo Giacona added two game-changing plays in the kicking game. And when all was said and done, Fayetteville-Manlius beat Corcoran (3-5), 22-14 on Friday night to set up a semifinal meeting with defending Section III Class AA champ, Cicero-North Syracuse. “We’re gonna practice as hard as we ever have, watch film, get in the weight room,” said senior Tim Shaw. “We’re excited and looking forward to Friday.”AdvertisementThis is placeholder textThe game couldn’t have started much better for the Hornets. Zack Page received the opening kickoff inside his own 20, broke through a gap on the right side and dashed all the way to the Corcoran 18-yard line. Five runs later and Shaw was powering his way into the end zone from a yard out to take the lead. The Cougars answered early in the second when Jerome Davis bounced left, to the outside, and scampered in from 19 yards out. A two-point conversion sent the Hornets into the break down two points.That’s when Giacona spoke up. The Hornets’ kicker spent Thursday night watching film of how the Cougars align on kickoffs. He noticed a gap near the 40-yard line along the left sideline. On Friday before heading to Corcoran, he told the coaching staff what he saw. With half the game gone, Giacona knew it was time.“We went into the locker room for the halftime and I just told him we have to do this,” Giacona said. “It’s wide open.”He pooched the ball right into that space. It was bobbled by an onrushing Corcoran player, and Benjamin Delmarsh fell on it for F-M. That possession set Shaw up again. The senior captain had never carried the ball in his first two years of varsity football. But this season, he’s become a short yardage weapon for the Hornets, and for the second time on Friday night, he achieved his goal of “keep the legs moving.” Shaw pushed it in from one yard out, taking the lead back for F-M.After the F-M defense got another stop — the Hornets held the Cougars to 205 yards of total offense — Mitchell Seabury burst up the middle and into the end zone from 26 yards out to take a two-score lead. Giacona once more pulled out a trick. The call was “squib left,” meant to just send the ball skidding down the field. But he didn’t see a good lane, so he pounded it at the front man on Corcoran’s return team, Giacona said. It bounced off the Cougar player’s helmet and was recovered by F-M, allowing the Hornets to burn valuable time off the clock. In a game that came down to the penultimate play, those extra seconds Giacona’s squib turned fumble bought were crucial. “Kickers are people, too,” he remarked after the game.“To be able to create offense out of a kick is something that you don’t see a lot,” Shaw said. “And twice, especially. That was huge for us.”F-M took on C-NS on Sept. 22, and the Northstars won 35-21. Shaw recalled reading postgame coverage that day in which a C-NS player said “they didn’t think it would be that close.” For the seniors that have grown up together in the Hornets’ program, 26 in all on the roster, this is an exciting time, Shaw said. The F-M backfield was missing key contributors to injury in that game. The backs are all healthy now.And as Shaw said that mid-August day, “this is a season we’ve all been kind of talking about since we were young.” This group of Hornets hasn’t made it to a sectional final in the Carrier Dome. An upset of the top-seeded Northstars would do that. As F-M knelt in a postgame huddle after Friday’s win, an assistant coach stepped into the circle. His message was brief.“In the distance behind those trees is the Dome,” he said. “One step closer.” Comments What a play by @FMHornets @FMstudentsectio to start the second half. That’s Hornets ball.— Billy Heyen (@Wheyen3) October 19, 2018 Published on October 19, 2018 at 10:59 pm Contact Billy: [email protected] | @Wheyen3 Facebook Twitter Google+last_img

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