Weekly Feature

2018-10-10 / Sports

South football rebounds against Amherst

Sports Reporter

Williamsville South’s Devin Degree attempts to elude the tackle of Amherst’s Rashawn Allen in the Billies’ 39-12 road win Friday. 
Photo by Kathleen KramerPurchase color photos at www.BeeNews.com Williamsville South’s Devin Degree attempts to elude the tackle of Amherst’s Rashawn Allen in the Billies’ 39-12 road win Friday. Photo by Kathleen KramerPurchase color photos at www.BeeNews.com What a difference a week made for the Williamsville South football team.

After allowing 62 points in a home loss against Starpoint, the Billies rebounded with a 39-12 road win over Amherst Friday.

“This was a huge morale booster,” South senior quarterback Joe Battaglia said. “We expected to go into Starpoint and have a close game. It was important to come out here and win.”

“We have been playing a lot of good opponents,” South coach Kraig Kurzanski said. “It’s hard when you are 1-4, but to the kids’ credit, they practiced well all week.”

The win improved South to 2-4 overall, but 2-3 in Class A-3. Kurzanski said the win qualifies the Billies for the Chuck Funke Memorial Class A Consolation Bowl series, which they won last year.

“I think we are in the Funke Bowl now,” Kurzanski said. “Now we can play two more meaningful games. It gives us a couple more games to get us to 5-4.”

South’s defense caused four turnovers and junior

X’Zavion Galarza created three of them.

In the second quarter, he stripped the ball away from Amherst quarterback Ja’Kye Womack on fourth-and-1 at midfield and returned it for a 50-yard touchdown. Battaglia’s two-point conversion pass to Jemelle Jones extended the Billies’ lead to 21-6.

“I saw the quarterback trying to do a QB sneak,” Galarza said. “I snuck in there and took the ball from him and I was gone the other way.”

“He made a great play,” Kurzanski said.

“That was huge,” Amherst coach Jason Beckman said. “If we convert, we would have been in positive territory and all of a sudden the ball is going the other way. We have to do a better job of protecting the football because if you don’t, it will come back to bite you.”

In the third quarter, Galarza intercepted a pass at the Amherst 15, which came two plays after Womack intercepted Battaglia. On the next play, Jones (11 carries, 102 yards, two touchdowns) rushed for a 15-yard touchdown. Suddenly, South was ahead 33-12 with 6:32 left in the third quarter.

Galarza’s interception was also crucial because Amherst had cut the deficit to 27-12 on its previous series on offense with a 55-yard touchdown pass from Womack to junior Rashawn Allen.

Galarza also recovered a second fumble, and led the Billies’ defense with 12 tackles. Coran Peterson also recovered a fumble and made eight tackles.

Beckman called the turnovers “self-inflicted wounds.”

“Obviously, I’m disappointed and I thought it would be a fairly even matchup,” Beckman said. “If you take out three or four big mistakes that we made, it would have been a much closer game. I have to find better ways to convince these guys that there is a certain way to do things and if we don’t do that, we don’t finish on the positive side of the ledger.”

Amherst took a 6-0 lead when Womack threw a swing pass to Allen, who used his speed to reach the end zone for a 54-yard touchdown.

South took the lead for good when Battaglia scored a 6-yard touchdown on the final play of the first quarter. Mike Masecchia’s extra point put the Billies ahead 7-6.

A 1-yard touchdown run by Jones increased the Billies’ lead to 13-6 with 7:08 left in the second quarter.

Early in the second half, Battaglia threw a 54-yard touchdown to senior Devin Degree on fourth-and-17 from the South 47, extending South’s lead to 27-6. Degree caught four passes for a team-high 129 yards.

“He’s our playmaker so we got him the ball,” said Battaglia, who completed 9 of 17 passes for 202 yards and rushed eight times for 49 yards.

“It’s something we prepared for,” Beckman said. “It’s amazing how sometimes you prep for it and it still gets you. That was another example of how we had them in a negative down and distance and they ended up converting.”

South’s Jon Clifford added a 15-yard touchdown run which closed out the scoring in the third quarter.

Other notable stats for South came on offense from Anthony Galasso (two receptions, 44 yards), and on defense from Jones (nine tackles, sack) and AJ Urbaniak (sack).

For Amherst, Womack threw for 113 yards and Allen caught four passes for 116 yards

Beckman noted the relentless play on defense of Joe Byrne (seven tackles) and Sean Murphy (three tackles, two sacks). Hasan Dobbins recovered a fumble.

Both teams return to action at 7 p.m. Friday. South travels to Williamsville East while Amherst (2-4, 0-4) hosts Maritime in its homecoming game.

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