Blue Devils can’t recover from bad start

Camden, though, did make Chittenango sweat a bit on their next drive that went for 46 yards all the way to the Bears’ 20. But quarterback Colby Stratton lost yardage on a run and failed to complete three passes to turn the ball back over to the Bears on downs, and they made them pay when Zimmer scored on a 4-yard TD run following a seven-minute drive, that was led by him and Gilano once again, to claim a three TD lead.

Nearly three minutes later, the Blue Devils finally put things together when Cody Sullivan ran in for a 3-yard score on a drive that featured senior Jake Reed carrying the load for 40 yards of Camden’s 69-yard drive.

After the score and knowing it could be very difficult to stop the Bears’ stellar running backs, Camden head coach and Rome Free Academy graduate Aaron Fiorini made a big gamble and elected to go with an onside kick attempt, however no Blue Devil was able to recover it in time and putting the Bears at their own 49. The risk burned Camden even further when Zimmer finished off a three-play drive with a 14-yard TD to make it 28-7 with 5:29 remaining in the half.

As the third quarter was set to start, the Blue Devils knew they had to be able to find some sort of momentum quickly when they received the kickoff, or their championship hopes would quickly disappear.

They would go on to do just that as sophomore Jeremy Zeitchel led the way with 47 yards on four carries, followed by a pass interference penalty against the Bears on their own 8-yard line that led to a 4-yard TD pass from Stratton to Karl Kirch two plays later to cut the lead to 14 points.

The Bears would finish off Camden for good when Josh Cretaro ran in for a 1-yard TD in the fourth quarter, and Gilona wrapped up the night’s scoring with a 3-yard TD dash with 4:11 remaining.

"They fought their tails off for four quarters," said Fiorini. "We just could not make a play in the first half that dug us such a hole at 21-0 it’s tough to come back on. We had a lot of fight in us, and we had a lot of opportunities to score touchdowns, but we just dropped balls and had a huge holding penalty on that drive in the second half. The kids fought, never quit and that’s what I’m proud of them for."

Stratton completed 12-of-29 passes for 136 yards with two interceptions and ran for 51 yards on 10 carries. Reed finished with 78 yards on seven carries and Zeitchel picked up 62 yards on seven carries. Sullivan caught four passes for 53 yards, and Joe Muller grabbed four for 46 yards.

"We started off hot and had that couple game stretch where we had a lot of injuries, but we kept fighting and never quit," said Fiorini.

"We could’ve easily packed it in for the season but they didn’t. We had some great leaders on this team and we’re going to miss them, but we’re very young and our future is extremely bright."