HOLLAND PATENT — The Golden Knights allowed a kickoff return for a touchdown to start their 2019 football season, and then spent the rest of the game unsuccessfully chasing Skaneateles on the scoreboard.
Holland Patent fell to the Lakers 55-36, doing one thing they didn’t do all regular season last year: lose.
The non-league game against the team that moved to Class C in the offseason started with the Knights celebrating their newly-resurfaced grass field under new lights and surrounded by a new purple track. The program last year produced its best playoff run ever, capturing a Section III Class C title before falling in the state regionals to end 10-1.
It would not take long for Holland Patent to suffer its first loss of this campaign.
It started off with a gut punch, as Skaneateles’ Cody Nesbitt ran back the opening kickoff 90 yards for a score. The extra point by kicker Nick Wamp made it 7-0 just 13 seconds in. “We need a lot of work on special teams,” said Holland Patent coach Brian Briggs. He said the momentum of the score put the team at a disadvantage right away.
But Holland Patent did answer immediately, with quarterback Jared Harter hitting Dylan Ernst behind the defense en route to a 67-yard passing score. The extra point by Nate Draper made it 7-7 early.
But Skaneateles took the lead back again on its ensuing drive. Wamp, the player Briggs said he was most focused on stopping, caught a wobbly pass from James Musso, who was hit as he threw. He zipped to paydirt on a 68-yard score. He missed the kick so it was 13-7 Lakers just over three minutes into the game.
“It was sloppy but we’ll take it,” said Lakers coach Joe Sindoni. Offensively, “We weren’t sure 100% what they were going to play.” When HP doubled-teamed Wamp, it left Nesbitt open, he said. He was displeased with his team’s running effort.
After Harter was intercepted on a play where he was hit as he threw, Skaneateles took over only 10 yards from the end zone. Three plays later, Musso hit Nesbitt on a 10-yard passing score. The kick made it 20-7. Again HP would cut the lead, this time after a series of runs by Bryce Dare, including runs of 14 and 23, Nolan Alexander scored from 3 yards out for a touchdown, and the kick made it 20-14 Lakers with 42 seconds left in the first quarter.
With 8:46 left in the first half, it was Musso to Nesbitt again, this time an 11-yard scamper on a shovel pass after a pass to Wamp for 22 set up the score. Wamp’s extra point made it 27-14. They grew the lead to 34-14 when with 48 seconds left in the half Musso hit a wide open Colin Cox in the slot and he was off to the races for a 45-yard pass-and-catch score.
The second half was more of the same.
Skaneateles faced fourth-and-short just across midfield and converted with a long pass to Wamp. After a false started moved the Lakers back to the HP 23, Musso hit Nesbitt on a short pass and he swung outside and raced down the sideline for the score that made it 41-14.
Holland Patent answered with an 86-yard scoring drive, including passes of 16 and 10 to Dare and Mike Benedetto, respectively. It was capped off by Dare, who caught a dump off over the middle and tore through the middle of the Laker defense 46 yards to the end zone. A two-point conversion made it 41-22.
But again Skaneateles would answer on the next drive. This time it was on a 30-yard touchdown pass from Musso to Wamp in stride at the back of the end zone. The score was 48-22 with 5:13 left in the third quarter. Holland Patent would drive into Skaneateles territory but turned the ball over on downs at the Lakers’ 29. They took over there and on the first play Wamp caught a short pass and weaved through the Knights’ defense breaking several arm tackles on the way to the 71-yard score. He made the extra point kick and it was 55-22.
Musso finished with 322 yards passing, completing 10 of 15 passes with six touchdowns and no turnovers. Wamp had five catches for 226 yards and three scores.
“Our defensive line shut down their run,” Briggs said. But, “We need to work on the pass (defense).” He added, “Big plays is what they scored on.”
Offensively for HP, “it was to be balanced,” but the team had to pass more to try to catch up on the scoreboard.
“It’s a wake up call for sure,” he said of the loss. “We have a lot of work to do.”
HP scored twice to cut the lead to 55-36, first on a 17-yard pass from Harter to Maddox Williams and then on a 1-yard sneak by Harter after a successful onside kick.
Sindoni said he knew Dare “is a big, strong back,” and was the focus of his defensive game plan. He also praised Ernst for making big catches. Harter, he said, “played great.”
Sindoni said Class C has “good football here. Obviously Holland Patent is good and they reloaded from last year.”
Holland Patent looks to get back to its winning ways when it plays a non-league game at 1 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 14 at Mount Markham.