For a few minutes of Friday night’s Class AA-2 division first-place showdown at Pelcher-Arcaro Stadium, the Baldwinsville football team thought it had found a way to slow down unbeaten Cicero-North Syracuse.
But those feelings did not last.
Instead, the state Class A no. 15-ranked Northstars, with power and discipline on offense and a defense that made key plays at crucial moments, turned back the Bees 20-7, disappointing a large home crowd on Senior Night.
Entering the game, the big battle loomed between B’ville’s powerful offense, anchored by tailback Jack Buis, and a C-NS defense that shut out two different opponents (Corcoran and Liverpool) in September and only allowed 27 total points in its first five games.
B’ville blinked first, with Peyton Watts intercepting Ben Dwyer’s pass on the game’s first possession. But the Bees stopped C-NS on fourth down and then saw Dwyer break out for a 67-yard run that set up Buis to score from five yards out.
It marked the first time since the Sept. 1 season opener against Henninger at the Carrier Dome that C-NS had trailed in any game – and that deficit wouldn’t last long, either.
Mixing up runs and passes, C-NS marched 69 yards and used up more than six minutes of clock before Erik Pride scored on an eight-yard dash and Brad Davies added the extra point, tying it, 7-7, just before the first quarter ended.
Much of the second period involved two drives. B’ville reached the Northstars’ 23 but was stopped on fourth down. Then C-NS took over with 6:35 left in the half and put together another long march, going 77 yards, with quarterback Conner Hayes constantly making the key plays with well-timed passes and scrambles.
Facing fourth-and-two at the B’ville three, Pride dove and got the first down, setting up Hayes for a one-yard touchdown plunge with 6.2 seconds to play. Davies’ PAT gave the Northstars a 14-7 edge at the half.
C-NS also received the second-half kickoff, which it converted into points when, on fourth-and-one at the Bees’ 46, Pride ran left, broke tackles and took off to the end zone.
B’ville didn’t fade away. Early in the fourth quarter, it drove inside the Northstars’ 20, only to have a first-down run by Dwyer negated by an illegal block penalty. Two plays later, Tyler Days intercepted Dwyer in the end zone, stifling the Bees’ best hope of catching up.
All game long, Buis was unable to find much open field against a fast group of Northstars defenders, held to a season-low 39 yards on 14 carries, while Dwyer finished with 120 yards on the ground. Meanwhile, Pride finished with 171 yards on 35 carries to lead both sides.
Defensively, B’ville had John Hernandez earn a team-best 12 tackles. Thor Sutphen and Gabe Horan each had 11 tackles, with E.J. Edmonds adding 10 tackles. Aquari Warner earned seven tackles as Mike Spicer and Dominic Samoraj had six tackles apiece.
Having seen its four-game win streak snapped, B’ville goes to Nottingham next Friday at 6:30 to close the regular season and will still host a first-round Section III playoff game.