Friday night's Class AA non-league game at Strider Field was a nail-biter in the third quarter. The Jamestown Red Raiders held a 7-0 lead at halftime, but early in the third quarter the visiting Kenmore West Blue Devils jumped in front 8-7.
But the lead didn't last long.
It took just 25 seconds for the Red Raiders to regain the lead and they went on to 20 points in about six minutes to roll to a 27-8 season opening victory.
''I'm most proud of my kids because we fought through some adversity,'' Jamestown coach Tom Langworthy said. ''We felt good about the first quarter and then a couple of things happened and we had some adversity. They scored a touchdown and were in fact winning and we were able to go right back down the field and score. And that's huge because some kids would start to hang their heads.''
The Red Raiders' heads were high after the season-opening win, but Langworthy said, ''I thought overall it was very much like a first game. Both teams had their mistakes, we knew there would be mistakes. There always is, especially in the first game. I think there's a ton of room for improvement and we'll get back to work tomorrow and watch the films. But overall, we got the win.''
Jamestown took the opening kickoff and got off to a good start. The Red Raiders drove inside the Blue Devils' 10-yard line when Da'Quan Hollingsworth fumbled a high pitch from quarterback Jake Sisson and the ball was recovered by Kenmore West's Steve Kulik at his team's 15-yard line.
From there, the visitors got nowhere as running back Alex Price and quarterback Adam Fron were dropped for 1-yard losses and then Fron threw an incomplete pass. Kenmore West was forced to punt and Imran Ahmadi was pressured by Tristan Holland and shanked his kick for only 16 yards. And after the play, Kenmore West was guilty of a 15-yard penalty that gave the Red Raiders a drive start at the Blue Devils' 16.
After a 6-yard keeper by Sisson, Hollingsworth skirted the left sideline for 10 yards and a touchdown and Zack Panebianco's extra-point kick gave Jamestown a 7-0 lead with 4:40 left in the first quarter.
''What I basically try to do is kick it into top speed and just get in there,'' said Hollingsworth, who finished with 73 yards on 17 carries. ''But I couldn't do it without my line.''
After a couple exchanges of possessions, Jamestown stopped a Kenmore West drive when a hit from Josh Colwell caused a fumble and Holland recovered the ball at the Jamestown 48. However, on the first play, a long Sisson pass intended for Mike Watson was intercepted by Kenmore West's Joshua Roe and he returned it 22 yards to the Red Raiders' 48.
From there, the visitors drove to the Red Raiders' 23 where they faced a fourth-and-six. Ahmadi attempted a 32-yard field goal with 35 seconds left in the half, but it was blocked by a group of Red Raiders and landed in John Czech's hands.
''One of my teammates blocked it and I was lucky enough to have the ball fall right into my hands,'' Czech said. ''I was astonished, honestly. It fell right into my hands.''
And that sent the Red Raiders to the locker room still holding a 7-0 lead.
''That was a huge energy boost for our team,'' Czech said. ''We went into the locker room with a lot of confidence and we came out and it showed in the second half.''
Kenmore West took the second-half kickoff and had a good drive going, but on a third-and-one play, quarterback Fron fumbled and Brian Park recovered it at the Red Raiders' 42. But on the third play from there, a Sisson pass was intercepted by Price, who returned it 9 yards to the Jamestown 43.
On the Blue Devils' first play, Fron found Laquan Saltar wide open behind the Jamestown defense for a touchdown. Then the Blue Devils went for a two-point conversion from an unusual formation and Roe scored for an 8-7 lead with 7:48 left in the third quarter.
''We call that the muddle huddle,'' Langworthy said. ''We were ready for them to do that and we took our time out and adjusted, but we had few too many guys in the middle and they were able to snap that and dive in.''
However, the lead lasted only 25 seconds.
After the kickoff, Kenmore West was charged with a 15-yard pass interference penalty. Then Sisson hit Stephen Carlson with a 56-yard touchdown pass for a 13-8 lead. After the play, the Red Raiders were charged with a 15-yard personal-foul penalty that forced them to attempt a long two-point conversion and the pass failed.
''Everything just aligned perfectly,'' Carlson said about the touchdown catch. ''Great blocking from the line, great pass from Jake and I made the catch and ran for the touchdown.''
He added, ''We knew that corner was a little weaker and they were playing man, so I tried to beat him on the outside.''
Sisson, who passed for 145 yards and rushed for 63, said, ''With Steve being as tall as he is (6-foot-2) and the corner being that short, I figured if we're going to go one-on-one I'd rather be throwing to Steve than a lot of other people because of the height advantage.
The Red Raiders struck quickly again after the Blue Devils went three and out.
Hollingsworth fumbled a punt, which froze the coverage for a split second. Then he picked the ball up and raced untouched down the left sideline for a 66-yard touchdown run. Panebianco kicked the extra point and suddenly the Red Raiders were in front, 20-8, with 6:01 left in the third quarter.
''Once I saw it I said I'm going to take this opportunity and put it in top speed and go,'' Hollingsworth said was his thought when he saw a clear path down the sideline.
About five minutes later, the Red Raiders scored again. A 24-yard completion from Sisson to Colwell set up an 18-yard touchdown run up the middle by Hollingsworth. Panebianco kicked the extra point for a 27-8 lead.
So after trailing by a point with 7:48 left in the third quarter the Red Raiders found themselves leading by 19 with 1:10 left in the quarter,
''I think when we got momentum we started to use to it our advantage,'' Langworthy said about the scoring explosion. ''We had some confidence, we were able to capitalize on it and score a couple quick. When things are going your way, you've got to take advantage.''
Langworthy praised his defense, led by Czech with 12 tackles while Zach Eklum and Conner Anderson had seven apiece.
The Red Raiders have another non-league game on tap next Saturday when they visit Niagara Falls for a 2 p.m. game.
Kenmore West0 0 8 0 - 8
Jamestown'7 0 20 0 - 27
Jam-Hollingsworth 10 run (Panebianco kick)
KW-Saltar 43 pass from Fron (Roe run)
Jam-Carlson 56 pass from Sisson (pass failed)
Jam-Hollingsworth 66 punt return (Panebianco kick)
Jam-Hollingsworth 18 run (Panebianco kick)