Three first half takeaways and a potent running game led the Fayetteville-Manlius football team to a much-needed victory over Rome Free Academy.
The 57-7 win featured the things that F-M (4-3, 4-2) planned to incorporate into its regular season finale. Great offense. Those turnovers and a defensive performance that tops any other one that it has had in the past. And teamwork that will be needed to go far in the playoffs like it plans to.
But, when push comes to shove, it was the pressure that Luke Ovadias put on the quarterback that led to the interception that Tim Shaw returned for a touchdown, the other RFA (1-6, 1-5) pass that was picked off by Tyler Powell, and the fumble that Brody Phelan recovered that could change the complexion of the season for the Hornets.
Shaw’s pick six was the first touchdown scored by F-M’s defense, which has been a concern throughout the season. Defensive coordinator Dan Conley was very pleased with that specific play and the entire performance.
Right after that touchdown, spectators saw Jack Hannah bobble the snap on the extra point, regain possession, and then run it into the end zone for the unconventional two-point conversion.
After the game Conley and the other coaches reflected upon the week of practice and said that the intense sessions that led up to this game need to carry over and get even better as they get closer to their first playoff game, which is Friday night.
Head coach Paul Muench had similar things to say. Muench admitted how impressed he was with the performance and said that he was most proud of the teamwork that he saw from his team, referring to how the bench supported the starters at the beginning stages of the game and how the starters were loud and proud on the sideline in the fourth quarter.
But, this game was nerve-wracking for the Hornets as the night was beginning. Their star running back, Mitchell “Seabiscuit” Seabury, was in street clothing and their starting quarterback, Mikey Porter, wasn’t out there for the opening play.
Though the starting quarterback for F-M was Owen Neuman, who rushed for a touchdown while he was in, Porter’s number was called within a few drives.
As far as the running game, the Hornets were Seabiscut-less the whole time and had to fall into the arms of another one of F-M’s thoroughbreds, Zack Page, who had a 73-yard run that set up a Deion Travis touchdown right before the break.
Despite just playing in the first half, Page had 217 yards and two touchdowns, which mirrored teammate Trevor Fallon’s total, and then Armando Adrian rounded out the scoring for F-M with a 43-yard touchdown run.
With the win, F-M secures the No. 6 seed, meaning that they visit No. 3 seed Baldwinsville (6-1, 4-1) for the sectional quarterfinal, whereas RFA was out of the playoffs prior to the matchup.