Trojans Advance In Epic Game, 45-44
After three-and-a-half hours, Southwestern had to make one play Friday night to secure its spot in next week’s Section VI Class C championship game at New Era Field.
Cooper Pannes played the hero.
The junior defensive lineman stopped Wilson quarterback Steve Frerichs’ 2-point conversion attempt on the Lakemen’s first possession of overtime to secure a wild 45-44 victory for the Trojans in a Class C semifinal at rain-soaked Charles A. Lawson Field.
“It shows how much work they put in,” Trojans senior Alex Card said of Pannes and the linemen. “Usually they don’t get their name in the paper, but that will stand out for sure.”
“It was huge for the team,” Pannes said. “We just kept fighting and kept grinding.”
“You can’t script something like that,” Southwestern coach Jehuu Caulcrick added. ” … Our kids battled. We faced a lot of adversity. It was an emotional ride.”
The victory sends Southwestern to Orchard Park for the third straight year where it will meet the winner of today’s other semifinal between Cleveland Hill and Randolph/Frewsburg at Cheektowaga.
“We just have to be confident and play like we know how we play,” Card said. “I think if we do that we’ll be fine.”
The ending was eerily similar to last season’s semifinal when Wilson trailed by a point late in the fourth quarter and missed on a 2-point conversion attempt in a 28-27 loss to the Trojans.
“The same thing happened last year, so we’re used to it. It doesn’t feel any better. They played their butts off,” Wilson coach William Atlas said. “Once again, we were down and not one person quit. … We came up a yard short.”
A botched Lakemen point-after attempt at the end of the first half and a strong third quarter from Southwestern gave the C South No. 1 seed a 38-27 lead early in the fourth quarter, but the C North No. 2 seed did not pack it in.
With 4:32 remaining in the game, the Trojans’ Cole Snyder sent a quick kick into the line on fourth-and-4 from the 50-yard line and Wilson took over at the Trojans’ 48-yard line. On their first play, Frerichs hit Marc Dolyk for a 48-yard touchdown pass, and then completed the 2-point conversion to Drew Westmorland to make it a 38-35 game with 4:22 left.
Southwestern then went three-and-out before the Lakemen returned a punt all the way to the Trojans’ 24-yard line with 2:04 remaining. On third-and-6 from the 20, Southwestern was called for pass interference, giving Wilson a first down, but the Lakemen were also called for an unsportsmanlike penalty on the play, sending the line of scrimmage back to the 25-yard line. Frerichs then threw a pair of incompletions before finding Westmorland for a 5-yard gain to the 20-yard line with 22 seconds remaining.
Facing a fourth-and-5, Atlas called on kicker Thomas Baia and the junior did not disappoint his coach, splitting the uprights with a 37-yard field goal to send the game to overtime.
“I think the guys were sort of surprised, but I had it in my mind the whole time that I was going to give him a shot,” Atlas said of attempting the field goal. ” … We have faith in him. … I knew he could do it.”
Southwestern had the ball first in the extra session and quickly took care of business, using two Lakemen penalties and a 4-yard run from Snyder to set up a first-and-goal from the 6-yard line. Zishan Munir then ran for 3 and 2 yards before a 1-yard touchdown run to give the Trojans a 45-38 lead after Card’s fourth successful PAT of the game.
Frerichs then went for 7 yards before runs of 10 and 2 yards from Westmorland gave Wilson a second-and-goal from inside the 1-yard line. Frerichs found room to the right of his center to score and make it 45-44, but the Lakemen couldn’t repeat their success on the conversion try.
“There was no reason to prolong the game any more. I didn’t want to give the ball back to them,” Atlas said. ” … We went for it … I didn’t think they’d expect the run there. They got the best of us on that play.”
The teams were tied 7-7 after the first quarter as Wilson’s Brayden Dunlap ran for an 18-yard touchdown and Snyder threw for an 8-yard touchdown to Charles Bailey.
The Trojans led 21-20 at halftime as Card made field goals of 33 and 27 yards before catching a 22-yard touchdown from Snyder. Frerichs threw a 76-yard touchdown to Marcel Wilson before running for a 2-yard touchdown just before halftime, but a bad hold on the PAT attempt led to a failed conversion.
“We shot ourselves in the foot in the first half,” Atlas said.
Snyder ran for a 10-yard touchdown midway through the third quarter before the Trojans pulled ahead to their largest lead at 15 on a Snyder-to-Card 15-yard touchdown with 6:16 remaining.
“It was crazy coming down to the last play,” Card said. “It was the last play of our last home game. … It was awesome.”
NOTES: Frerichs went 15 of 32 for 323 yards and three touchdowns while Snyder was 12 of 25 for three touchdowns. … Snyder ran for 107 yards on 23 carries. … Dominic Certo was in on 10 tackles and Seth Bennett was in on eight for the Trojans while Card had an interception. … Southwestern has seen its season end against Cleveland Hill for three straight years, including the last two at New Era Field.
WILSON 7 13 7 11 6 — 44
SOUTHWESTERN 7 14 14 3 7 — 45
Wil–Dunlap 18 run (Baia kick)
Sou–Bailey 8 pass from Snyder (Card kick)
Sou–Card 33 field goal
Wil–Wilson 76 pass from Frerichs (Baia kick)
Sou–Card 27 field goal
Sou–Card 22 pass from Snyder (Snyder pass from Card)
Wil–Frerichs 2 run (pass failed)
Sou–Snyder 10 run (Card kick)
Sou–Card 15 pass from Snyder (Card kick)
Wil–Wilson 28 pass from Frerichs (Baia kick)
Sou–Card 32 field goal
Wil–Dolyk 48 pass from Frerichs (Westmorland pass from Frerichs)
Wil–Baia 37 field goal
Sou–Munir 1 run (Card kick)
Wil–Frerichs 1 run (run failed)