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Sun's H.S. Football Recap Week 2; Looking forward to Week 3

Alex Misterman rolled to 288 yards and five touchdowns, but St. Francis fell to Holy Trinity 42-41. (Photo by Michael J. Petro)

Holy Trinity pulls off improbable comeback to beat St. Francis

It was the perfect statement to make after a week one blowout loss.

St. Francis had bounced back from a drubbing at the hands of the Section V power Aquinas the week prior by rolling to a 41-14 lead four minutes into the fourth quarter over another fellow state private school Holy Trinity of Long Island. The execution that wasn’t there against Aquinas couldn’t have been better on both sides of the ball to that point in the game.

Alex Misterman was giving one of the finest performances of a running back at any level with almost 300 yards and scoring almost at will during a stretch in the second half. Meanwhile, the Red Raiders defense was stifling highly-toughed Trinity senior quarterback Chris Laviano, intercepting him four times, three of those by junior nickel backer Elliot Buccieri.

But in a blink of an eye, 7:34 to be exact, that statement was quickly erased. Holy Trinity scored 28 unanswered points to make an unbelievable comeback in its 42-41 win at St. Francis on Saturday (Sept. 8). In that time, the Titans not only scored four times, but also forced a fumble, recovered an onsides kick and sent a St. Francis offense, that earlier couldn’t be stopped, three-and-out.

St. Francis head coach Jerry Smith called it a perfect storm against his team. Although he didn’t want to be accused of running up the score and made some changes to get players into what seemed to be a rout, Smith said all of his starters were not subbed out of the game because with only 30 players he doesn’t have a full second team on either side of the ball.

“Anything that could go wrong, went wrong,” Smith said. “Even after everything happened, if we just get one first down (on its final drive), the game is over, but we just couldn’t finish.”

“When you get a team down like that, you have to finish,” he added. “We have to work on depth and guys have to make plays. We let them back into the game. We had offensive, defensive and special teams breakdowns.”

The Titans capped a 14-play, 78-yard drive in the final 1:59 of the game with a one-yard touchdown around the left tackle by senior Joe Ferguson as time expired. Holy Trinity’s Matt Russo connected on his sixth extra point of the game to break a 41-41 tie.

After throwing his fourth interception of the game in the third quarter, Laviano threw four fourth quarter touchdowns, finishing the game with five. Laviano connected with Matt Sheehan on a 60-yard long ball touchdown to cut the lead to 41-21 with 6:10 left, and that’s when the table began to fold for the Red Raiders.

St. Francis fumbled the ball on the second play of its ensuing drive, and after a Laviano to Ryan Alexander 11-yard touchdown, Holy Trinity recovered on onsides kick with five minutes remaining. The Titans enjoyed another quick strike drive as Laviano hit Alexander again, this time from 34 yards out, to cut the lead to 41-35 with 4:35 on the clock. Laviano hit his 6-foot-4 tight end Alexander 12 times for 147 yards and for three scores in the game. Sheehan caught two TDs.

The Red Raiders sent its starting offense back out on the field but it was out of sync and went three-and-out, forcing a punt which put Holy Trinity back to its own 22-yard-line. That didn’t matter. Laviano once again drove his team down the field, hitting 4 of 7 passes for 70 yards. St. Francis made two run stops on first- and second-and-goal, but Laviano was just able to spike the ball with one second to play to set up the fourth down touchdown run.

“That’s probably one of the best comebacks I’ve ever seen in my era,” said Holy Trinity’s veteran coach Tony Mascia, whose team was playing in its season opener. “We just kept getting after them, one thing led to another and the momentum shifted. It’s one of those crazy things that can happen...Otherwise, I really can’t explain it.”

Overshadowed in the loss was a special performance from Misterman, a senior tailback who has stepped into the role vacated by St. Francis graduate Akeel Lynch, who’s now playing for Penn State. Misterman ran for 288 yards and five touchdowns from 1, 29, 28, 45 and 50 yards out.

At one point in the second half, the 5-foot-8 hard-running Misterman ran two straight times for 95 yards and two touchdowns, steam rolling his way to pay dirt nearly untouched. His performance was no surprise to Mascia, who got to see the back play some as a junior in his team’s 55-20 loss to St. Francis last year.

“He was incredible today,” Mascia said. “I knew he was good, seeing him come into the game last year. He is very hard to tackle. He’s a great player.”

Smith credited his young offensive line with stepping up its play coming off a tough game against Aquinas. He said with Holy Trinity challenging his team by sending extra players to the line of scrimmage, some key blocks sprung Misterman into the open field. Junior left tackle Ryan Zulawski hit hard throughout the game and senior fullback Jordan Zakroczemski “laid some lumber” blocking out of the backfield, according to Smith.

“They were gambling, putting 11 guys in the box,” Smith said. “Our O-line really came of age. We dominated them up to a certain point.”

St. Francis senior Brian Melisz threw a 62-yard touchdown pass to junior Julyan Coleman and Misterman followed with a successful two-point run late in the third quarter to extend the St. Francis lead to 27-7. The Red Raiders had led 19-7 at halftime.

Right before halftime, Buccieri came up with his third interception of the game, ending a Holy Cross drive which had reached the St. Francis 26. Melisz picked off Laviano on the Titans’ first drive of the second half. Holy Trinity would come up empty on its first three drives of the second half.

“I told my QB that he couldn’t get that back now, so just do your thing and make some plays,” said Mascia of Laviano who finished 21 of 35 for 319 yards. “I’m proud of the way he and the whole team responded.”

Zakroczemski also led St. Francis with nine tackles, seven of which the linebacker made solo. Also for St. Francis, Mike Miller had nine tackles and Manny Williams added six. Scott Webber, Adam Vanlenti and Misterman all notched sacks.

Next up for the Red Raiders is a much different St. Joe’s opponent than the one they beat in last year’s MMAA championship game. With Chad Kelly having graduated and now at Clemson, the Marauders will be less of a passing, finesse team, having gone back to smash-mouth football. They’ve found success early with it at 2-0.

“They’ll be more well-balanced and the defense really runs to the ball,” Smith said of St. Joe’s. “It will be more of a typical St. Joe’s team that we saw before Chad was there. They’re 2-0 and have all the momentum but we have to realize the world is not lost (after Saturday’s loss). This is only our first league game. We’ll take each game as it comes and hopefully at the end of the year be back at The Stadium.”

Cameron Coon looks for some yardage as teammates Kenny Kahler (left) and Adrian Cannon try to find a block. (Photo courtesy of Anne Licata)

Frontier gets off to quicker start, Eden needs OT to beat Springville

Frontier didn’t do anything special or fancy, but in Week two of the football season, got off to a much better start and it made all of the difference in reversing the team’s fortunes. The Falcons bounced back from a slow start in a season-opening loss scoring all of their points in the first half to win at Riverside 28-16 on Saturday (Sept. 8).

Junior fullback Kenny Kahler rushed 21 times for 164 yards and two touchdowns, and senior quarterback Ben Koch made some good decisions running a hurry-up, triple-option offense as he added 61 yards rushing and one score on the ground and another through the air. The Falcons were also supported by a better effort from its young offensive line and defensive unit.

“We found something that worked and kept doing it,” Frontier head coach Tim Myslinski said. “After we had success on the first couple of drives, that team we saw last week had gone away for a while, hopefully for good.”

The offense posted 309 yards, including Koch going 3 for 4 for 58 yards through the air, hitting senior tight end Bernie Cuthbert on that touchdown. The offensive line was keyed by Kyle Natwora and Will Kirkwood on the right side, senior captain Luke Bartone at center and Justin DelaRosa and Zach O’Connor on the left side.

Defensively, senior tackle machine Nick King finished with 13, to go along with two sacks and one forced fumble. Myslinski also pointed to strong safety Ryan Harvey, who was a key for the defense with eight tackles and one interception. Also, junior kicker Adrian Cannon put five of six kickoffs into the end zone for touchbacks.

Springville’s returning players had circled this game on the calendar ever since being handed a lopsided loss by Eden with a playoff spot on the line in last season’s finale.

Still, it was Eden that again gained the upper-hand in the matchup of Class B South rivals, but this time in a much closer affair. The Raiders needed three overtime drives to outlast host Springville 19-13 on Sept. 7. After returning a kickoff for the equalizing score in the fourth quarter, junior Alex Smythe won the game on a one-yard touchdown run. He finished with 93 yards on 23 carries and caught three balls for 16 yards.

Senior quarterback Matt Bialy threw for 100 yards on 9 of 15 passing. He hit Zach Boris on a five-yard touchdown earlier in the game. Garrett DiStefano ran for 32 yards and caught three passes for another 54 yards. Connor Gallivan added 44 yards on five carries. Defensively, senior Jon Lyndsley led the team with 18 tackles and forced a fumble. Smythe recorded 12 tackles and Anthony Cummings and Devon Shaw each added a sack.
Sophomore Mark Myles exploded for a 48-yard touchdown run on the final play of the first half in Hamburg’s loss to Williamsville South. (Photo courtesy of Ron Larson)

Hamburg played another solid first half just to see its game go up in smoke over the final two quarters.

After losing a lead in the second half of the season’s opening week, the Bulldogs were outscored 21-6 in the final 24 minutes by Williamsville South to fall 35-20 at home on Sept. 7.

Craig Mikida and Mark Myles each broke big plays for touchdowns to help Hamburg knot the score 14-14 at halftime. Mikida took a short pass from Luke Kramer and galloped into the end zone for a 66-yard touchdown, while Myles shot up the middle 46 yards to pay dirt on the final play of the second quarter.

In the second half, South’s standout senior quarterback Trent Ferguson went to work, throwing his second and third touchdowns of the game to classmate Chaq Nettles and running in another score. One of the scoring strikes to Nettles went for 90 yards.

In non-league action that night, Lake Shore drove down the field and made several trips to the red zone but fumbles and missed opportunities resulted in the Eagles falling to 0-2 after being shut out by host Lackawanna 14-0.

As a team, the Eagles rushed for 158 yards, but it was their defense that stood its ground for most of the might against a talented Lackawanna team. Lake Shore’s Alex Haley led the team with 10 tackles, Evan Fuller added an interception and Bruce Friedenberg recorded a sack and fumble recovery.

A Look Ahead to Week 3

Friday, September 7

Frontier (1-1) at Clarence (1-1), 7:30 p.m.

Eden (2-0) at Gowanda  (0-2), 7:30 p.m.

Lake Shore (0-2) at Hamburg  (0-2), 7 p.m.

Saturday, September 8

St. Francis (0-2) at St. Joe’s  (2-0), 2 p.m.


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