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Eden bounces back with win behind 200 yards from Smythe

LOOKING FOR A BLOCK — Alex Smythe gets a block from quarterback Nick Sarratori on his way to a big day. Photo courtesy of Ron Larson.
After its loss last week to East Aurora/Holland, the Eden football team was looking for answers.

The Raiders needed a spark in their homecoming game on Sept. 28 against Cardinal O’Hara and they looked no further than Alex Smythe. The senior running back set a career high with 202 yards rushing and scored two touchdowns, as the Raiders evened their record at 2 –2 with a 23 – 16 win against the Hawks.

“We just got the team refocused,” Smythe said, after two straight losses. “We got the team focused up and ready to roll again.”

While it may have been a non-league game, the win was necessary for the Raiders’ psyche, as the athletes were still reeling from a last-minute loss to Alden, which seemed to carry over in a 24 – 3 loss to East Aurora/Holland, in which they were outplayed from the opening kickoff. Smythe would not let that happen again, as he had some major runs, especially in the second half.

“We are a pretty well-conditioned team,” Smythe said. “The biggest part of the game was wearing them down.”

In a seesaw first half, the Raiders opened the scoring on a 5-yard run from senior quarterback Nick Sarratori, which capped an opening drive that saw the Raiders go 72 yards in 16 plays.

Before the celebrating was over, O’Hara answered, as junior quarterback Donel Cathcart found Daryl Moore down the left sideline, for a 55-yard touchdown.

“Donel has come around a lot,” said Cardinal O’Hara coach Angelo Sciandra,” but we are inconsistent. Not to take away anything from Eden – they are a great football team – I just thought we should have scored more points.”

Eden would respond late in the second quarter, as Smythe ran right up the middle for a 7-yard touchdown. It was a drive that was all on the ground, as the Eden offensive line was able to keep the bigger Hawks at bay. Smythe was also the catalyst of the drive, as he had runs of 10, 14 and then again 10 yards, before the touchdown run.

After the Hawks regained the lead, early in the third, they were driving to take a two-score advantage. On second and six from the Eden 19-yard line, Cathcart dropped back to pass and was pressured by senior linebacker Garrett DiStefano, which forced him into a bad throw that Smythe laid out for and made the interception.

“They ran a nice blitz there,” Sciandra said. “It forced our quarterback to throw the ball. It was a nice play by Eden.”

From there, Eden marched right down the field, as Smythe ripped off runs of 24, 8 and 13, before diving in for a 1-yard score, to give Eden the lead.

O’Hara had one last chance but Cathcart’s pass fell incomplete at his team’s own 49-yard line.

The Raiders will travel to take on Olean next weekend, in a divisional matchup, while the Hawks travel to South Buffalo to take on Bishop Timon.

“Momentum is huge,” Smythe said. “As long as everybody has their heads {in the game], we should be good to go.”


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