NEWPORT, N.Y. – One touchdown at the end of the first half and another at the end of a long drive to start the second were West Canada Valley’s recipe for success Saturday as the Indians opened defense of their Class D East title with a 33-7 win over Herkimer’s Magicians.
"If I get a chance, I want to defer," said second-year coach Todd Hobin whose team gave Herkimer possession of the ball to start the game. "If you get a score just before halftime and you get the ball to start the second half, that’s a 14-point swing and we control that."
The execution – on that part of the game plan, at least – was almost perfect. Shawn Pierson’s first touchdown came on a two-yard run and gave the Indians the lead with 1:15 left in the first half. His second capped a methodical seven-minute, 16-play drive at the start of the second half and gave West Canada Valley a 20-7 lead.
"They put together a great drive at the start of the second half," said Ron Gatto who made his varsity coaching debut for Herkimer which dropped down in class from C to D this fall in addition to making a coaching change. "They took seven, eight minutes off the clock and put us in a position where we had to play catch-up."
The Magicians had already caught up once. After stopping Herkimer on the game’s opening drive, West Canada Valley took possession and scored on its second offensive play, a 47-yard run by junior Brandon Barnes.
West Canada Valley got the ball back one minute later on a fumble and quickly struck again, only to have penalties undo its work. A block in the back negated a 14-yard run by Barnes on third down. On the next play, quarterback Matt Tobin found an opening and ran 28 yards for a touchdown that was called back on a personal foul committed behind the play before Tobin reached the goal line. With their six points off the scoreboard, the Indians turned the ball over on downs and did not score again until Pierson gave them the lead.
Joey Luppino pinned West Canada Valley deep in its own end with a punt and roll on the final play of the first quarter. The Indians gained one first down before a holding call pushed them back toward their own goal line and they were forced to kick the ball back. Antonio Aceto caught Tobin’s kick in stride, lined up his blockers on the left side and ran the ball back to the West Canada Valley 2. Collin Treen scored on the next play, and Herkimer took a 7-6 lead when Marshall Borek’s kick split the uprights.
Aceto ran another punt back onto West Canada Valley’s side of midfield but Herkimer fumbled the ball away again and set the stage for a penalty-aided scoring drive by the Indians. West Canada Valley went 76 yards with 3:30 left in the second quarter, taking advantage of personal fouls by the Magicians on two of the first three plays. Pierson and Tobin had runs on 14 and 15 yards on consecutive plays, and Pierson ran for 13 more following a timeout, setting the stage for the first of his two touchdown runs.
Tobin threw to Barnes for the conversion and the Indians led 14-7 at halftime. Herkimer’s two-minute drill got close but Brian Mula’s leaping catch as time expired ended the drive two yards short of the goal line. Treen had gotten the Magicians started with a 30-yard run across midfield on the opening play.
The second half started with West Canada Valley’s marathon drive. An 18-yard screen pass from Tobin to Kristopher Crossett was the only play that went for more than eight yards on the drive and each team used a timeout before Pierson scored with 5:01 on the clock.
The Indians tacked on two touchdowns in the fourth quarter to set the final margin. Crossett sacked Herkimer quarterback John Chimento on fourth down and Tobin ran 28 yards for a touchdown on the first play after the change of possession. Herkimer got the ball back and Chimento and Aceto missed connection on a pitch in the backfield; Aceto dove for the loose ball but it squirted loose beneath his pads. With the ball rolling toward the end zone, Cade Smith scooped it up and ran it in for a touchdown a little more than one minute after Tobin scored.
Tobin, making his first varsity start, ran for 101 yards on 19 carries and completed seven of the eight passes he attempted for 62 yards. Barnes ran for 75 yards and Pierson ran for 74.
WEST CANADA VALLEY 33, HERKIMER 7
Herkimer 0 7 0 0 - 7
West Canada Valley 6 8 6 13 – 33
WCV – Brandon Barnes 47 run (kick failed), 8:49.
HERK – Collin Treen 2 run (Marshall Borek kick), 9:11.
WCV – Shawn Pierson 2 run (Barnes pass from Matt Tobin), 1:15.
WCV – Pierson 1 run (kick failed), 5:01.
WCV – Tobin 28 run (pass failed), 7:33.
WCV – Cade Smith 19 fumble return (Pierson kick), 6:26.
Records – Herkimer 0-1; West Canada Valley 1-0.