FREDONIA - Matt McCarthy's 24-yard touchdown run with 11:22 left in the fourth quarter was the difference Friday night as Fredonia won, 28-21, over Southwestern in another exciting game between the two Class C South football rivals.
"We needed a contest like this," Fredonia coach Mike Marshall said. "We get big leads and we get them early, and the guys get complacent and think it's the way it's going to be. (Friday) is the way it's going to be."
Down 21-7 at halftime, Southwestern opened the third quarter with an onside kick, which it recovered at Fredonia's 48-yard line. Eight plays later, Noah Weinstein hit paydirt from 7 yards out to cut the Hillbillies' lead to 21-13.
Southwestern’s Hunter Peterson carries the ball during Friday’s Class C South football game.
Photo by Sean Pecuch
Feeling like they were playing with house money, the Trojans again went with an onside kick and again recovered, this time at the Hillbillies' 38-yard line. They needed just one play as Hunter Peterson rushed up the middle and then broke to the left sideline for 38 yards for the touchdown.
"We had nothing to lose," Southwestern coach Jay Sirianni said of the onside kick to start the second half. "We weren't supposed to win this game, so why not? Let's put them in a bind and let's put the pressure back on them, and we got it the first time and we said, 'Why not?' Let's do it again."
Weinstein found Josh Ulinger for the two-point conversion to tie the game 21-all with 7:53 left in the third quarter.
"I think the bounces just went Southwestern's way," Marshall said of the onside kicks. "We had been practicing onside kicks, but not to that extreme. They were perfect. They rolled and the one had to have a 10-foot bounce."
The Hillbillies built a 21-0 first-half lead, scoring 14 points off three Trojans' turnovers.
"Knock on wood," Marshall said. "We were able to take advantage of a couple of (Southwestern's) mistakes and we were able to score on them. You have to be able to score if you're going to go anywhere in this league. You have to take advantage of other team's mistakes."
"We just don't take care of the football," Sirianni said. "It's just unbelievable where we are in the turnover margin."
After Cam Voss fell on a loose ball with 7:13 left in the first quarter, the Hillbillies needed just five plays to find the end zone, as McCarthy scored from 9 yards out.
"It's not acceptable," Sirianni said of the turnovers. "The turnovers aren't acceptable. It's unbelievable what we're doing right now not taking care of the football. Our kids fight and scrap too hard to do that."
After forcing the Trojans to go three-and-out on their next drive, the Hillbillies took over at the Southwestern 45-yard line. Three plays later, John Piper found Weston Ley on a swing pass which the senior took 37 yards to the end zone with 3:57 left in the opening quarter.
On Southwestern's next drive, Weinstein failed to hold on to his center's snap and Fredonia's Jake Rinus recovered at the Hillbillies' 16-yard line.
Four plays later, Ley found Dylan Meyer racing down the left sideline for 61 yards and the touchdown.
"We had wanted Dylan to come out at the beginning of the season," Marshall said. "It took him a while to decide and he came out. This was the first game he was eligible, but you can see that out on the basketball court what his natural ability is. And we thought we could take advantage of that in this situation and we hope we can continue to do it in the future."
"We're very considerate," Sirianni said. "We love to give, but we don't get any takeaways. That's the story of the game. Our kids just played a fantastic game and Fredonia is a lights-out team. They have that quick-score capability and they have so many weapons all over the field."
Hunter Peterson scored from 14-yards out with 3:51 left in the first half to get the Trojans on the board.
"I have faith in my team," Sirianni said. "We have faith in our guys. The last couple of weeks we've played, we've gotten better as the game's gone on. And we've seen that, we just can't start so slow. We can't get behind and have to play catch up. I'm proud of the way our kids played, but we can do better."
NOTES: McCarthy finished with 127 yards on 15 carries and two touchdowns ... Meyer had three receptions for 107 yards and a score ... Piper and Ley combined to go 6 for 11 for 171 yards and two touchdowns ... Rinus finished with a team-high 11 tackles while Piper added eight ... Peterson led the Trojans with 124 yards on 14 carries and two scores ... Kevin Bellardo had 84 yards on 17 rushes ... Jordan Breyerton, Corey Breyerton and Ulinger all had eight tackles in the loss.