By Jim Riggs
CLARENCE - ''We're going to Disneyland!''
Members of the Jamestown Red Raiders, including John Czech (74) and Mike Parker (40), celebrate their Class AA South victory over Clarence on Saturday. See additional photos at cu.post-journal.com.
P-J photos by Jim Riggs
That was comment of a Jamestown football player in the team huddle after the Red Raiders defeated the Clarence Red Devils, 27-21, on Saturday afternoon.
No, the Red Raiders aren't going to Disneyland. They are going back home to Strider Field on Friday night to host a Section 6 Class AA quarterfinal game against Hutch Tech.
But, more importantly, they are going into the game as the Class AA South champions.
With its victory on Saturday, Jamestown moved to 6-1 overall and 4-1 in Class AA South. That tied the Red Raiders for first place with Orchard Park, which was also 4-1. But because Jamestown defeated the Quakers in the regular season, it is awarded the division championship, the Red Raiders' first in 12 years.
After his players gave coach Tom Langworthy the traditional water-jug shower, he said, ''I told my kids it's important that they be called champions. That can't be taken away from them. They'll always be called (2012 Class AA South) champions.''
By finishing first, Jamestown plays host to the fourth-place team from Class AA North, Hutch Tech, which was 1-6 overall and 1-3 in the division.
Clarence finishes the regular season 4-3 overall and 2-3 in Class AA South for fourth place and will play at Class AA North champion Lockport (5-2, 4-0) next Saturday.
The Red Raiders won the title-clinching game behind the passing of junior quarterback Jake Sisson, who completed 20 of 34 passes for 327 yards and four touchdowns, and the catching of Zach Panebianco, who had eight receptions for 187 yards and three touchdowns.
''It's not just me, it's all team,'' Sisson said. ''My protection, my wide receivers, Quan (running back Da'Quan Hollingsworth) coming out of the backfield for a pass; it's a total team effort.''
The passing was needed because Hollingsworths had only 68 yards on 15 carries and Sisson rushed 11 times for 50 yards.
''After we saw how they lined up and the adjustments they were going to make, we knew passing would be more of a threat than running the football,'' Langworthy said. ''They had seven guys in the box and we had six guys at the most that could block, so they had one guy we couldn't account for and he was making plays. But they were all one-on-one on the receivers, so we thought that was an option that would could exploit on. Sometimes we did and sometimes we didn't.''
See RAIDERS, Page C7
From Page C1
Clarence coach Mark Layer said their goal was to stop Hollingsworth, who was coming off five straight 100-plus yards games, including one with more than 200.
''We knew he was an explosive offensive weapon and felt like that's what we wanted to focus our attention on,'' he said. ''We were doing a fairly effective job against the run, I thought, early in the game and they are so diversified offensively with so many weapons that it made sense to try to open things up a little bit and try to make some plays to some of the other kids and that's what they were able to do.''
Mike Watson had three catches for 43 yards for the Red Raiders while Stephen Carlson had two for 28 yards and Josh Colwell two for 23.
About Hollingsworth's 68 yards, Langworthy said, ''We tried to get him going and there wasn't much inside. I told Quan the guy who's making the tackle on him isn't covering one of our receivers and our receivers were able to get open because of that. He might not look at it as his best game, but he was able to help somebody else on the team and somebody else on the team stepped up.''
It was the Clarence players who were stepping up early as the Red Devils took the opening kickoff and drove 73 yards in 13 plays to score and 11 were on the ground. The only completed pass was a screen for 17 yards from quarterback Lex Oakes to Dominic Webster on a third-and-10 play. The touchdown was a 5-yard run by Ben Reinhardt and Austin Zymroz kicked the extra point for a 7-0 led with 6:40 left in the first quarter.
Jamestown picked up a couple of first downs on its first possession as the Red Raiders reached the Red Devils' 27-yard line. However, the drive ended there with three straight incompletions by Sisson after he ran for a yard on first down.
Clarence went three-and-out and punted back. The Red Raiders began to move with four straight successful runs and then Sisson hit Carlson with a 19-yard completion to the Clarence 30. But on the next play, Hollingsworth fumbled a pitch from Sisson and Jacob Weber of Clarence recovered the ball at his team's 31.
Then the Red Devils drove to the Red Raiders' 30 where they turned the ball over on downs.
The drive continued after Jamestown thought Watson had recovered a fumble at the Red Raiders' 37. However, there was an inadvertent whistle and the Red Raiders came up ''losers'' twice.
''It was a fumble, it was recovered by us and advanced by us,'' Langworthy said. ''But since they blew the whistle too early, the inadvertent whistle rule states that the ball goes back to the spot of the previous play and the down is replayed. So they go a better spot and the down over.''
So Clarence had dodged a bullet, but not for long.
The Red Devils eventually turned the ball over on downs at the Jamestown 30. On the third play from there, Sisson hit Panebianco with a pass on the left sideline and he broke a couple of tackles and ended up completing a 48-yard touchdown play. Panebianco also kicked the extra point to tie the game at 7-7 with 6:06 left in the first half.
But like many times this season, the lead didn't last long.
After the kickoff, Oakes connected with Emaure Williams for a 67-yard touchdown pass and Zymroz's kick put the Red Devils back in front, 14-7, only 20 seconds after Jamestown had tied the game.
The turnovers continued as Hollingsworth fumbled the ensuing kickoff and Clarence recovered the ball at the Red Raiders' 27. But three plays later, Cortland Haines of Jamestown hit Oakes on a keeper to force a fumble that Carlson recovered at the 7.
From there, the Red Raiders drove to the Clarence 20 in the final minutes where they turned the ball over on downs.
''At halftime I said, 'Let's forget about the first half and let's play a 24-minute game,''' Langworthy said. '''We've got to make up seven points, but let's forget everything we did in the first half and let's come out and play a fresh game in the second half.'
''We started out slow in the second half, but I thought when we really started to pick up speed we played well.''
The Red Raiders took the second-half kickoff and went three-and-out. After a punt, Clarence started from its own 35 and had three successful runs by Williams and Reinhardt out of its double wing. Then Williams got behind the secondary and Oakes hit him with a pass for a 59-yard touchdown play and Zymroz's kick increased the Red Devils' lead to 21-7.
Jamestown responded with a touchdown drive aided by two costly 15-yard penalties on Clarence. The first was on fourth down when the Red Raiders were in punt formation and the Red Devils were charged with an unsportsmanlike penalty for yelling signals in attempt to lure the Red Raiders offsides. The second was for pass interference that moved the ball to the 16 and from there Sisson hit Panebianco with a touchdown pass. However, Panebianco's extra-point kick failed and Jamestown trailed by eight, 21-13, with 7:04 left in the third quarter.
''We had some untimely penalties that hurt us, that kept drives alive for them, '' Layer said. ''You can't give them an extra chance with the ball. You've got get off the field and unfortunately there were a few times when we had the chance to get off the field and we didn't. You give them more opportunities and they're going to come through sometime.''
After the kickoff, Clarence went three-and-out. The Red Raiders started a drive at their 31 and eventually faced a fourth-and-three at the Red Devils' 19 when the hosts shot themselves in the foot again. They were guilty of a 5-yard offsides penalty that gave Jamestown a first down at the 14. Then Sisson hit Carlson with a touchdown pass and he also hit Carlson with a two-point conversion pass, but the Red Devils kept him out of the end zone and Clarence was still in front, 21-19, with three minutes left in the third quarter.
After the kickoff, the Red Devils were moving the ball on the ground. On a third straight running play, Reinhardt picked up 5 yards when the ball popped out of his grasp and right into the arms of Watson, who returned it 5 yards to the Clarence 45.
Two plays later, Sisson hit Panebianco with about a 15-yard pass to the right sideline. However, Panebianco wouldn't go down and broke about five tackles on the way to the end zone to give Jamestown its first lead at 25-21 with 1:03 left in the third quarter. Then a successful two-point conversion pass to Watson increased the advantage to 27-21.
When asked how many tackles he thought he broke, Panebianco said, ''I have no idea and at this point I still don't know what happened. I just started weaving in and out and got a couple good blocks from other receivers down the field and just ended up getting in. I'd like to see a replay.''
Sisson said, ''It was crazy, I loved it. Zach's a playmaker.''
The fourth quarter was a standoff as each team had the ball three times and failed to score. The Red Devils final possession began at their own 11 and sacks by John Czech, who finished with 10 tackles, and Haines, who had 12 tackles, were sandwiched around an incomplete pass. On fourth down, Panebianco, who caught plenty of passes from Sisson, intercepted an Oakes pass to seal the victory.
Watson also had 12 tackles and said, ''We've been working hard all week and everything we did and everything we prepared for showed up on the field. It was a bad first half, but we all talked in the locker room and we came back out and did what we had to do.''
Czech, who finished with two sacks, said, ''The whole game we were down on the ground trying to make piles and make plays for the linebackers. We were able to get them in the spread the last few series and were able to make some plays and it felt really good.''
Now the Red Raiders begin the ''second season'' and even though their first postseason opponent was 1-6, Langworthy and the coaching staff with be emphasizing that everyone is 0-0 when the playoffs begin.
Jamestown0 7 20 0 - 27
Clarence 7 7 70 - 21
Clar-Reinhardt 5 run (Zymroz kick)
Jam-Panebianco 48 pass from Sisson (Panebianco kick)
ClaWilliams 67 pass from Oakes (Zymroz kick)
Cla-Williams 59 pass from Oakes (Zymroz kick)
Jam-Panebianco 16 pass from Sisson (kick failed)
Jam-Watson 14 pass from Sisson (pass failed)
Jam-Panebianco 45 pass from Sisson (Watson pass from Sisson)