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Hamburg comes close to homecoming game upset

GET AWAY — Hamburg running back Mitch Gomolka looks for some open field, during Hamburg’s 10 –7 loss to West Seneca East. Photo courtesy of Ron Larson.
Bulldogs fall to unbeaten W.S. East 10-7

Just like the onside kick to open the game, the Hamburg football team let an opportunity slip through its hands on Sept. 27 on homecoming weekend at the high school.

The Bulldogs wound up being just that close — maybe a break away — from pulling off what would have been an upset against unbeaten and defending sectional finalist West Seneca East. Hamburg scored a late-game touchdown and attempted an onside kick for the second time in the game, but again could not recover and East held off the upstart hosts 10 – 7.

“We did a lot of nice things to beat them but, in the end, we didn’t do enough to get the job done,” said Hamburg head coach Pat Cauley, who noted that emotions were running high, after the game. “We just have to dust ourselves off and try again. We had a real good scout on them and real good plan, but we missed on some opportunities, and that started 5 seconds into the game.”

Hamburg followed through with a plan concocted back on Monday, to onside kick to start the game. Cauley said he thought he saw a weakness in East, up front on the special teams unit. The kick by high school sophomore Justin Shuttleworth was executed and the coverage was there, but the ball slipped through three or so Bulldogs’ hands.

“We had committed to it early in the week. We had three shots at getting the ball,” said Cauley, whose team fell to 1 – 3. “We thought that was a spot where we could steal a possession. We played it exactly how we planned it.”

East capitalized and scored early in the game to take a 7 – 0 lead, but would not put up another point until the fourth quarter, with a field goal, to stretch the lead to 10 points. The Trojans, who improved to 4 – 0, had beaten the previous teams it played by a combined 133 – 22 margin.

Hamburg drove down the field in a 2-minute offense, capped by junior Alex Suchan’s hitting Brendan Ryan on a touchdown pass with approximately a minute left in the game. With one time out, the Bulldogs were forced into an onside kick, which East fell on.

Suchan went 10 of 24 for 115 yards, while being picked off twice and his favorite target on the night, Ryan, a sophomore, caught five balls for 64 yards. Mitch Gomolka led the rushing attack with 43 yards on eight carries.

On defense, Hamburg was led by junior lineman Joe DeGrood, who recorded a team-high 11 tackles; Cauley noted that his second-year varsity player continued to play tough football, up front. He also said that Tosh Johnson (with six tackles) has been key, with the junior’s ability to play a variety of spots on the defense. Jeremiah Bill added seven tackles and Ryan Herr, six, while Cauley noted that Colton Preischel (with five tackles) led the team’s linebacking corps.

Hamburg looks to get itself back in the Class A race for a playoff spot, playing at 1 – 3 Iroquois on Oct. 4. The winning Chiefs team came off of its first win, last week.

“In 20 years, I’ve never seen an Iroquois team not ready to play a home game,” Cauley noted. “It should be a great atmosphere, just like we had at Hamburg on Friday.”


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