Cassadaga Valley coach Nick Spitzer had a feeling early in the week.
''We've been kind of building up to a big night like this,'' he said moments after the Cougars knocked off Southwestern, 14-6, in a Class C South football game at Charles A. Lawson Field.
Sophomore Nick Peterson raced 63 yards for a third-quarter touchdown and senior quarterback J.B. Boughton connected with junior Jordan Crabtree on a 36-yard TD strike in the fourth quarter, sending Cassadaga Valley (3-3, 2-3) into the Section 6 playoffs as the division's No. 4 seed.
Cassadaga Valley quarterback J.B. Boughton receives a play call from Coach Nick Spitzer during the second half of Friday’s Class C South football game at Charles A. Lawson Field. See additional photos at cu.post-journal.com.
P-J photo by Scott Kindberg
The Trojans (2-4, 2-3), meanwhile, have been eliminated from a sectional berth and will play in the C Bowl in two weeks.
''The kids are thrilled,'' Spitzer said. ''It's total satisfaction. The kids came up big and they played hard, as usual.''
Especially on defense.
Led by the linebacking duo of senior Zack Kubera and senior Tage Reuther, the Cougars bent, but didn't break, allowing only a 6-yard touchdown run by Southwestern sophomore Hunter Peterson in the third quarter. And even though the Trojans ran nearly twice as many plays as Cassadaga Valley, they were unable to muster more than one score.
''We've been putting the right guys in the right spots,'' Spitzer said of his defense. ''Our defensive ends (senior David Carlson and junior David Meadows) are big, tall guys and Brady Simpson has done a good job at nose tackle.''
So while Peterson and Crabtree received game balls for their touchdowns, there might not have been enough awards to go around for Cassadaga Valley's collective defensive effort.
Kubera finished with 16 tackles, Reuther had 13 and junior linebacker Matt Hallowell added nine and intercepted a game-clinching pass in the final minutes.
''We see so much of the (spread offense) these days,'' Spitzer said. ''We run a 3-5-3 and it's got to the point where we've mastered that defense. Our guys are covering the right guys, doing the right things, getting a good pass rush and knocking down passes as well. Our defense has been incredible this year.''
It certainly was a defensive struggle in the first half, with neither team finding the end zone. The star to that point may have been the Cougars' punter, who boomed a number of outstanding kicks, including a 72-yarder. Still, the Trojans had several good scoring chances, but came up empty.
One drive ended with junior Tanner Hoose having a 39-yard field goal blocked. Another golden opportunity- after a blocked punt deep in Cassadaga Valley in the final 15 seconds of the half- ended with two back-to-back dropped passes in the end zone and a missed 30-yard field goal try.
The Trojans regrouped to start the second half as they forced a fumble on the Cougars' first possession. The hosts later capitalized on the turnover when Hunter Peterson burst in from the 6. The extra-point try was blocked and Southwestern led, 6-0, with 5:41 remaining in the third quarter.
But then the Cougars' Nick Peterson turned in the momentum-changing play of the evening on the first play after the kickoff. Taking the handoff from Boughton, he swept left, turned the corner in front of his bench and outraced the Trojans to the end zone to complete a 63-yard touchdown run.
''That play right there set us up,'' Spitzer said. ''I didn't know he had that extra gear. Once he hit the corner, it was 'See you later.'''
Reuther's extra-point try was good and Cassadaga Valley led, 7-6, with 5:28 left in the third quarter.
It didn't take the Cougars long to find paydirt again.
After Carlson blocked a punt on the last play of the period, Boughton hit Crabtree with a 36-yard touchdown pass on the second play of the fourth quarter. Reuther booted the extra point and Cassadaga Valley led 14-6, with 11:07 remaining.
''We felt we had a mismatch on that play,'' Spitzer said. ''(Assistant coach) Joe Mistretta looked at me and said, 'Quick slant' and it worked for us.''
As it turned out, it was all the points the Cougars would need.
The Trojans, who lost their second home game of the season, didn't have a comeback in them.
''No. 1, Cassadaga Valley earned that win and they deserve the right to play in the (Section 6 playoffs), and we wish them the best of luck,'' Southwestern coach Jay Sirianni said. ''This game came down to opportunities and we squandered our opportunities.''
NOTES: Nick Peterson finished with 65 yards on three carries, while Boughton added 36. ... Meadows recovered a fumble. ... Southwestern quarterback Jake Pilling had, unofficially, 98 yards rushing.
Cassadaga Valley0 0 7 7 - 14
Southwestern0 0 6 0 - 6
SW-Peterson 6 run (kick blocked)
CV-Peterson 63 run (Reuther kick)
CV-Crabtree 36 pass from Boughton (Reuther kick)