Weekly Feature

2017-10-11 / Sports

Starpoint puts dent in South’s playoff aspirations

by PATRICK J. NAGY Reporter

Williamsville South typically qualifies for the Section VI Federation playoffs but the Billies have not made it easy on themselves to make it this year.

The Billies’ 40-6 road loss Friday to reigning Class A North champion Starpoint means South’s playoffs start this coming Friday when they host Sweet Home in its homecoming game. The winner of the South-Sweet Home game, slated to start at 7 p.m., will determine the fourth seed from the division for the Federation playoffs, which are scheduled to begin Oct. 20. If South wins and Williamsville East beats Grand Island, the Billies would be the third seed due to defeating Grand Island earlier in the season.

South coach Kraig Kurzanski said his team committed seven turnovers (five interceptions, two fumbles) against Starpoint and had three plays of 30 or more yards that were called back due to penalties.

“You can’t do that against a good team,” Kurzanski said. “We never really got going. I don’t know why. We had a good week of practice. Our care level was high. It was a surreal night.”

Starpoint’s Brendan Gawel, who recorded a fumble and two interceptions on defense, broke a tackle and rushed for a 30-yard touchdown in the first quarter.

An interception by Sam Mazzara at midfield led to a seven-play drive that ended on the first play of the second quarter, a 37-yard touchdown from Chase to Josh Brooks. The two-point conversions on both plays failed.

Three of South’s turnovers occurred in the first half. Despite the miscues, the South defense only yielded 12 first-half points.

“We competed well in the first half but Starpoint is a good football team and we ran out of gas on defense in the second half,” Kurzanski said.

Starpoint quickly built its lead to 18-0 on the third play of the second half when Gawel threw a 5-yard option pass to Chase. Again, the two-point conversion failed.

South’s offense was pinned back on its 2 on its next drive and instead of attempting a punt, the ball was intentionally snapped into the end zone.

The Spartans then got the ball back and went on a 59-yard drive that was capped off by a 2-yard touchdown run by Anthony Robinson. The two-point conversion failed, putting them ahead 26-0.

Gawel completed the trifecta of scores when he caught a 20-yard touchdown from Chase late in the third quarter.

Starpoint’s final score was a 10-yard interception return by Justin Mott late in the fourth quarter.

Braeden Postula tallied an interception and Erik Miller recovered a fumble for Starpoint, which improved to 5-1.

South’s only points came on a 3-yard quarterback draw by South’s backup quarterback Joe Battaglia early in the fourth quarter.

Jemelle Jones led the South offense with 19 carries for 185 yards. He also tallied six tackles on defense.

South’s passing game resulted in only 41 yards.

The South defense caused two turnovers, including an incredible individual effort by Alex Miller, who stripped Starpoint’s Anthony Robinson of the ball at the South 24 after a 69-yard run. Nick Huber recovered.

“Alec Miller is a kid who always shows a high care level and he made a great play,” Kurzanski said.

Anthony Galasso also recovered a fumble in the fourth quarter.

Dan Thomeer tallied two sacks on the same series in the second quarter. He also tallied seven tackles. Jimmy Manna recorded a team-high nine tackles.

Now the Billies prepare for a Sweet Home team that is also coming off a tough loss of its own, falling to Grand Island, 28-0.

“We have to overcome adversity, not let it define who you are and use it as a teaching tool,” Kurzanski said. “It should be a fun game to watch.”

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