LEROY — A Mustang mistake would menace Dansville in the overtime session, but the Leroy defense would do the same throughout the afternoon at Hartwood Park as a pair of unbeaten youth football teams tangled in the damp, drizzle of Leroy as the Oatkan Knights would prevail over Dansville in the Community Youth Football League's Senior Championship on Sunday afternoon in overtime by a score of 22-16.
The title tilt certainly lived up to all the hype as the momentum in the game shifted back & forth throughout as Leroy came from behind twice in the game to tie, and then survived a scare when Dansville apparently scored in overtime, only to spot a yellow flag thrown for offensive holding.
The contest featured an interesting "first-last" scenario as Dansville would score on their first possession of the game, and Leroy would score on their last series prior to the half. The Mustangs scored on their initial possession of the 4th quarter and Leroy scored on their last full possession in the final period ... then were driving when time expired in regulation as they were on Dansville's 23 yard line when the clock ran out. In the O.T. Dansville "apparently" scored on the first play from scrimmage, but were flagged for holding negating the touchdown. Leroy would score on what would have been their last play of overtime to win it.
The Mustangs had a nice opening drive-start at their own 48 yard line. Coach Ron Cartwright's club would march the ball down to the 25 where Jackson Zangerle went back from right to left, against the grain & broke free for a 25 yard touchdown run as the Mustangs drew first blood. Zaiden Blackmon came on & booted the conversion making it 8-0 in favor of the Mustangs.
On Leroy's first series, they would fumble the football away as Jackson Zangerle recovered for Dansville on the Knights' 45 yard line. The Mustangs would get the first break of the game, but Leroy's D was up for the challenge as they would stop the visitors on downs and get the football back. Dansville's defense was nothing to overlook as they too stopped Leroy countless times.
In the second quarter Leroy's first possession saw them cough the football up and Dansville's Brady Henchen recovered on the Knights' 45 yard line. On the next play the Mustangs fumbled the ball away with Leroy's Cameron Riggi recovering the loose ball with 3:30 left in the half. Leroy would take full advantage of the Dansville turnover and would cash it in to tie the game with 1:26 left in the half. Coach Tim Spezzano's club would culminate their drive from mid-field by "going up top" as then quarterback Jake Higgins connected with wide-out Peter Clark down the right sideline for a 49 touchdown pass that got the Knights' faithful on their feet! Jake Higgins would run in the conversion and at the half the game was deadlocked at 8-8.
Ironically, it was Dansville's defense that would mount some momentum that helped fuel what would be the Mustangs' go-ahead score late in the 3rd period. The southern division champs would then milk 6 minutes off the clock in a drive that nearly stalled in the shadow of Leroy's goal post. The Mustangs were 4th & 2 at the Knights' 3 yard line when Peter Frisiras called his own number and bounced around in the backfield until he saw daylight and ran for the go-ahead touchdown. Zaiden Blackmon again split the uprights and Dansville regained their 8-point lead at 16-8 with 1:13 left in the quarter.
It didn't take long for Leroy to answer. In a typical Knights drive, the home squad would get the football at their own 46 yard line as the period ended. In the 4th Coach Spezzano's team would milk over 7 minutes off the clock in a controlled drive that saw the Knights grind out 5 first downs on the ground en route to the end zone. Quarterback Alex Spezzano followed the pack into the end zone on a 2- yard run with 2:49 remaining in regulation. Jake Higgins on 2nd, 3rd and 4th effort banged his way into the end zone to tie the game at 16-16.
The game went to an overtime session which would see each team possess the ball for 4 plays from the 10 yard line to see if a winner could be determined. Dansville had the ball first and on the initial play from scrimmage, running back Zaiden Blackmon was trapped behind the line of scrimmage all the way back at about the 18 yard line before reversing direction and going all the way across the filed (a la Barry Sanders) and would sneak into the right corner of the end zone for an "apparent" touchdown. A flag had been thrown across the gridiron for "offensive holding" which would nullify the touchdown, and the Mustangs momentum as well with the ball being placed all the way back at the 24 yard line.
Dansville would get as close as the 22 before tossing an incomplete pass on 4th down to give the Knights the ball. Leroy also misfired on their first play, but in a minimal sense as they were penalized 5 yards for Illegal Procedure putting the pigskin back at the 15 yard line. Leroy on successive running plays moved the football to the 11 yard line, then to the 9 and finally to the 3. On 4th down & "game" from the 3, Jake Higgins took the football and rammed his way with 2nd and 3rd effort into the end zone for the game-winning score giving the Knights a thrilling 22-16 overtime win and the CYFL "Seniors" title! Congratulations to Leroy president Steve Samis, coach Tim Spezzano, and his players and staff on winning the 2018 title.
The win was exhilarating for one red & black team, and disheartening for the other. Dansville coach Ron Cartwright noted, "The boys played amazing and sure made us proud. This is only the beginning for this program. We look forward to an ever-upward direction for our program. Thank you to all of the kids, board, parents and coaches for their dedication to DJM football!"
The final Mustang stats for the title tilt were as follows ...
Offensively: Pete Frisiras 20 rush, 43 pass 3 yd TD; Zaiden Blackmon 26 rush, 37 rec (2 pat kicks); Gage Frazier 8 rush, 7 rec; Jackson Zangerle 29 rush (25 yd TD); Cody Moran 26 rush.
Defense: Jackson Zangerle 6 tack 4 assists 1 fum rec; Zaiden Blackmon 10 tack 4 assists; Quinn Dixon 3 tack 3 assists; Gage Frazier 2 tack 1 assist 1 forced fum; Aiden Vanauken 1 tack; Matt fronk 3 tack 1 assist; Peter Frisiras 6 tack 4 assists; Logan Quick 1 tack; Brycen Lemmon 6 tack 2 assists; Braden Henchen 10 tack 3 assists 1 fum; Josh Stanley 2 tack; Caden Cartwright 5 tack 2 assists; Caleb Knapp 5 tack 1 assist; Neamiyah Hall 4 tack 2 assists.