RUNNING LOOSE — Phil Wigdor and Lake Shore fell to Hamburg for a second time this season 41 – 22. Photo courtesy of Ron Larson.
Hamburg’s football team has been in every game it has played, this season. During the Chuck Funke Bowl Series opening round, the Bulldogs left little doubt they would be in this game and dominate, while taking down Lake Shore 41 – 22 on Oct. 24.
On a cold and windy night at Howe Field, the Bulldogs forced three turnovers, blocked two punts, one of which was returned for a touchdown, and used the play to their advantage, en route to the victory.
“We knew [Lake Shore] was going to play hard. They always do,” said Hamburg head coach Pat Cauley. “It took us a little while to get going, but we made some plays and got a little spread on them. We’re fortunate.
A week after knocking off rival Frontier 14 – 7 on the Falcons’ home field, Hamburg evened their season record to 4 – 4, to earn a spot in the Bowl Championship final. The Bulldogs also ended a three-game winning streak from hard-charging Lake Shore.
“We’re young,” said Lake Shore head coach Drew Takacs. “I tell them that we have to go out there and execute. We’ve talked about being disciplined in the locker room, being disciplined in school, and to be disciplined on the field.”
Hamburg junior running back Mark Myles opened the scoring with a 13-yard rushing touchdown, but that was answered by a 42-yard touchdown pass from Lake Shore quarterback Colin Fiutko to fellow sophomore tight end Ron John. It was followed by a successful 2-point conversion that put the Eagles ahead for the only time in the game, as the Bulldogs ran off 27 unanswered points.
Hamburg signal-caller Alex Suchan connected with Bryce Hite for a 36-yard touchdown in the second quarter, which was followed by junior Tosh Johnson blocking a punt which was caught in the air by Alec Seifer and returned 47 yards for a touchdown. Hamburg junior Tom Coyne added a 1-yard rushing touchdown before the half, to make the score 27 – 8 at the break.
“The blocked punt was a momentum changer,” Takacs noted. “It was something that was unexpected; that [touchdown] hurts.”
Suchan kept the attack going, through the air, to open the second half as he hit Kyle Munro on a 16-yard fade in the corner of the end zone. Suchan finished the night with a 15-yard strike to Joe Wittmeyer to push his team over 40 points for the first time this season.
Myles led the way on the ground for the Bulldogs, with 105 yards on 14 carries, while Suchan completed four passes; three were for touchdowns. Myles ran it 21 times for 203 yards and 4 touchdowns, in the two teams’ regular season matchup, which was won by the Bulldogs 35 – 14 on Sept. 20.
Lake Shore ended its regular season winners of games with Hutch-Tech, Iroquois and Riverside. It was the first time a Lake Shore team had won three games in a row since 2006.
Winners of three of the last four matchups, Cauley and his staff are looking to build on this recent success, with a win in the Bowl championship final against North Tonawanda, and then carry it over into next year, with so many players’ returning.
“It’s taken us a while to hit our stride,” Cauley said. “It feels good. Now we’ve got one other game. We’re playing for a championship. It’s not the one we had hoped for but we’re taking it as a way to try and send the seniors out with a win, and for the younger folks to have a dry run for a real playoff situation.”