ORCHARD PARK - Midway through the second quarter of Saturday morning's Section 6 Class DD championship game, Ellicottville executed to perfection a reverse pass play in which a wide receiver completed a pass to the quarterback for a long touchdown. Moments later, Clymer punter Dan Lictus was forced to kick the ball backward out of the end zone following a bad snap, giving the Eagles a safety.
That, in a nutshell, was how the first half went for the two teams.
Ellicottville dominated both sides of the ball during the opening 24 minutes while Clymer made miscue on top of miscue. The Eagles took a 34-0 lead into halftime and coasted to a 34-16 victory at Ralph Wilson Stadium.
Ellicottville’s Cam Wilson gets off a pass as Clymer’s Caleb Clark puts on the pressure on Saturday at Ralph Wilson Stadium.
P-J photo by Scott Reagle
The sectional title is Ellicottville's first since 2004 and gives coach Tim Bergan a sectional title in four different decades.
''On Aug. 31 this thing started with a blue moon. Right now we've got a full moon and we've done the whole cycle,'' Bergan said. ''I guess I've done that whole cycle, too. To win in four decades is a great thing. To have these kids come back from being beat up for two years and to get up here and accomplish this, they did a tremendous job.''
The Eagles scored touchdowns on five of their seven first-half possessions, with standout running back Phalla Musall doing most of the damage with 14 carries for 115 yards and two touchdowns.
Meanwhile, the Pirates' first two quarters included twice snapping the ball over the head of the punter, a lost fumble, an 0-for-7 on third-down conversions and an 0-for-4 fourth-down conversions.
''There's no explanation for the first half,'' Clymer coach Dave Bodamer said. ''I'm not going to take anything away from Ellicottville, that's a strong football team like we expected. But for whatever reason we just had everything kind of go against us, and they get part of that credit, too.
''Their defense was outstanding. Our front line had a heck of a time.''
The nearly insurmountable halftime lead had to feel especially good to the Eagles after what happened during the teams' regular-season meeting. In that game, Ellicottville took a 14-0 lead into the fourth quarter before Clymer fought back to send the game into overtime, and the Pirates went on to win, 20-14.
Musall finished with 25 carries for 149 yards and two touchdowns and the junior also was the team's leading tackler with nine solo tackles and six assists. Quarterback Cam Wilson added 44 passing yards, 24 rushing yards with a touchdown and a receiving touchdown.
''I've been with (Musall) since pee-wees and midgets,'' Wilson said. ''We've always been a good combination. He's a great player, but he's nothing without the line and we have a really good line.''
Wilson opened the scoring on Ellicottville's first possession, running the ball into the end zone on a quarterback keeper from the 8. The conversion attempt failed but the Eagles had a 6-0 lead just 1:51 into the game.
A snap over the head of Lictus on a punt attempt set Ellicottville up at Clymer's 24 and Musall scored on a 6-yard run five plays later, pushing the Eagles' lead to 12-0.
Musall added a 42-yard touchdown run in the second quarter before Ellicottville really showed off its ability to execute when its trick play worked to perfection.
On first-and-10 from the Clymer 35, Wilson took the snap and pitched to Musall, who pitched it to wide receiver Jake Rinko on a reverse. Rinko set his feet and threw a pass to Wilson, who was wide open down the left sideline. Wilson ran the final 20 yards for a touchdown and, with a Musall two-point conversion run, a 26-0 lead.
''We ran a little trick-or-treat on them,'' Bergan said. ''I'm just so proud of the way they came out and prepared and the way we executed.''
Four plays later, another snap sailed over Lictus' head, leading to a safety for Ellicottville. And following the free kick, the Eagles added another touchdown when Wilson hit Lorenzo Smith with a 39-yard catch-and-run for a touchdown and a 34-point lead.
Ellicottville intercepted two Matt DeStevens passes in the second half one by Wilson and one by Peter Gabel and the rest of the time it was content to just run the ball and keep the clock moving.
Clymer did have more success on offense in the second half, getting a 2-yard touchdown run from Connor Payne in the third quarter and a 5-yard score from Jake Wiggers in the fourth. DeStevens and Wiggers tacked on conversion runs.
After gaining just 34 rushing yards on 30 carries in the first half, Clymer finished with 124 yards on 42 carries. Wiggers led the way with 24 carries for 97 yards.
''They answered the call in the second half,'' Bodamer said. ''It was just 24 minutes too late.''
Clymer 0 0 8 8 - 16
Ellicottville 12 22 0 - 34
Ell Wilson 8 run. (Pass fail)
Ell Musall 6 run. (Run fail)
Ell Musall 42 run. (Run fail)
Ell Wilson 35 pass from Rinko. (Musall run)
Ell Team safety
Ell Smith 39 pass from Wilson. (Run fail)
Cly Payne 2 run. (DeStevens run)
Cly Wiggers 5 run. (Wiggers run)