Knights slip to 0-2 after being pounded by Proctor
UTICA — For the second week in a row, Rome Free Academy’s football team was left with that run-down feeling.
In a Class AA crossover rivalry contest, the Black Knights fell, 48-7, to rival Proctor High of Utica at chilly D’Alessandro Stadium on Saturday afternoon as the Raiders rushed for over 400 yards.
Eight days earlier in their season-opener, Rome had gone down to a 32-12 loss at Central Square when Jamie Battaglia plowed ahead for 331 yards and five touchdowns on the ground for the Redhawks.
The RFA-Proctor game was part of the 2017 Great American Rivalry Series. The rivalry between the Black Knights and Raiders dates back to 1891. Proctor has won the last two meetings.
“We just didn’t play physical,” RFA head coach Ted Swavely said. “And I put that on me.”
The 0-2 Black Knights will get another chance for their first win on Friday night when they host Class AA-1 rival Corcoran High of Syracuse at 7 in their home-opener at RFA Stadium.
The Black Knights were gouged for 431 combined rushing yards by the Raiders; 134 coming from Proctor running back Jalen Woodson. Landon Johnson was also over 100 yards rushing, finishing with 109 yards and two touchdowns.
Division I quarterback prospect Logan Wilcox also added 73 yards and two scores on the ground. Wilcox also threw for 90 yards and a touchdown.
“He’s a Division I quarterback,” Proctor head coach Steve Strife said of his senior signal-caller. “If we wanted to run five-wide and let him bomb it down the field we could, but that’s not good for our program.”
Wilcox led the Raiders offense down the length of the field during the opening drive of the contest. RFA’s defense was on the field for 15 plays, over six minutes before the 6-foot-2, 190-pounder gave the Raiders an early 8-0 lead after Vincenzo Castronovo converted the two-point run.
“We used last week’s loss as motivation for this week,” said Wilcox of the Raiders, who lost their season-opener to Vestal 27-22. “We came to practice and worked hard, mentally and physically. The game itself was awesome. But there’s always a little excitement because it’s RFA. There’s a lot of mutual respect for the game.”
Wilcox was also named the MVP of the game.
After RFA’s offense was forced to punt after its first possession, Proctor’s offense took over and scored again on its second drive, capping off a 10-play drive with Johnson’s first score of the game. Johnson added another score before halftime to make it 20-0, and Wilcox found Jasyn Bonner from 32-yards out to extend the lead to 26-0 at halftime.
The Raiders did not take their foot off the pedal as they continued the scoring in the second half, getting second half touchdowns from Woodson, Wilcox and Shyreak Harris.
The Black Knights had a better running game this week, Swavely said. RFA running back Amir Williams led the Black Knights with 105 yards rushing on 15 carries.
“I thought that the run game was pretty good and I thought that we threw the ball pretty decent,” Swavely said
RFA quarterback Tristan Hunzinger accounted for the Black Knights only score, a five-yard scramble with 7:27 remaining in the game.
Hunzinger threw for 93 yards on 9-of-18 passing with one interception. Cameron Kilpatrick was the leading receiver for RFA, catching two passes for 40 yards.
“I thought Tristan did a nice job today,” Swavely said of his senior quarterback. “I thought he did a nice job of commanding the offense, moving around when he was under pressure. Nobody understands how tough of a job it is back there.”
“I give Tristan a lot of credit,” Swavely added. “You got some large individuals coming at you. We’re trying to block them all, but they had a couple good blitzes on us, and Tristan rolled out and tried to make some things happen.
“Even the pick that he threw, he at least put that ball up there and it was tough because he was throwing into the wind and the ball hung up there.”
Kilpatrick also led the Black Knights’ defense with 13 tackles. Tyler Baker was credited with 10 and Ryan Swavely had six for RFA.
“We didn’t really know what to expect because we didn’t play well last week,” Strife said.
“We were missing three starters today, but that’s why we run the offense that we run; we can just plug people in and run it.
“The Class AA league is a meat grinder, and injuries are going to happen.”