SYRACUSE — The Rome Free Academy football team took a 15-8 lead over host Henninger High of Syracuse into halftime on Friday night in Syracuse and used it to power the team to a 30-24 league win for its first of the season.
“It’s a great feeling,” RFA head coach Jake DerCola said. “You can never get mad about a win. It got a little dicey at the end, but our guys stepped up and said we’re not giving this ball back and we’re going to get after it.”
Turnovers dominated the opening drives of the Class AA game for each team.
Rome started the contest with the ball and three plays later, Rome quarterback Nevaeh Baez fumbled the ball and Henninger recovered at the RFA 27.
On Henninger’s first play from scrimmage, Nishawn Everson fumbled and gave the ball right back to RFA.
Rome capitalized on the turnover, scoring the first points of the game on a six-play, 82-yard drive. Rome tailback Dayton Kelly was tackled behind the line for a loss of two, then Baez ripped off a big gainer to give Rome a first-and-10 at the Henninger 16. Baez attempted a pass and Henninger was flagged for defensive holding, setting up Rome with a first-and-5 from the 11. Three plays later, Kelly ran it in from four yards out to give RFA the early 7-0 lead after Jack Lawless’ kick.
Henninger answered on its first drive of the second quarter. Four plays and they were into the end zone on a 15-yard pass from quarterback Hunter Kirnie to Ra’Sean Patterson. Skylar Dotterer ran in the two-point conversion to make it an 8-7 game with 10:14 to go in the first half.
Defensive stops by both teams dominated a majority of the second quarter, until 1:54 to go.
Baez tossed a 17-yard touchdown pass to Lawless and Kelly ran in the two-point conversion to make it 15-8 going into halftime.
In the third quarter, Henninger started with the ball and drove all the way down to the Rome 16-yard line when Kirnie was sacked and he fumbled the ball, which Rome jumped on to take over with 8:58 to go in the third.
Rome rode the legs of Baez and Kelly all the way deep into Henninger territory, to the three-yard line, when Baez punched in a quarterback draw for the touchdown. Kelly ran in the two-point conversion for a 23-8 lead with 3:02 remaining in the quarter.
Kelly was able to find the end zone a second time in the fourth quarter to make it 30-8 after a Lawless extra point kick.
“Dayton is a big boy and up front, they did a great job,” DerCola said. “They (Henninger) put a lot of guys in the box and they were coming hard and our guys did a great job of doing the stuff that we teach. They did it great and it shows with great results. It’s a great feeling and I think they know up front they did a great job and I know Dayton has been telling them great job too.”
Henninger, which fell to 0-2, didn’t go away, however. Everson scored with 5:31 remaining in the game and Sean Hunt Jr. ran in the two-point conversion, making it 30-16. Rome punted the ball away on the ensuing drive and Dotterer took it back 55 yards for the touchdown and Kirnie found Patterson for the two point conversion pass to make it 30-24.
Rome did lose Baez to injury in the fourth quarter after he ran for 29 yards.
Rome got the ball back and went into victory formation to seal the game.
Next Friday night, RFA, 1-1, is home for another league game against Proctor High of Utica. Kickoff is set for 6:30 p.m.
Adirondack tops Westmo/Oriskany
Junior quarterback Brett Sanford did it all for the Adirondack football team Thursday night, leading the Wildcats to a 19-13 victory over visiting Westmoreland/Oriskany.
Sanford tossed two touchdown passes, a 22-yard pass to Chris Tavenner and a 39 yard pass to Kreedan Rogers. Sanford also recovered a fumble and took it back 50 yards for a score.
For Westmoreland/Oriskany, quarterback Michael Scalise ran for both Bulldogs scores, a two-yard run and a one-yard run. He was 5-of-7 through the air for 70 yards and an interception.
Jerry Fiorini ran 13 times for 45 yards for the Bulldogs. Jack Williams made two catches for 28 yards and Javante Brill-Rollins also made two catches for 34 yards.
Mitchell Holmes led the Westmoreland defense with 15 tackles. Fiorini made nine and Ryan Frawley finished with eight.
Adirondack moves to 2-0 and returns to action Friday night when the Wildcats welcome Sandy Creek to Boonville for a 7 p.m. kickoff. Westmoreland is 0-2 and plays again on Friday night as the Bulldogs travel to Waterville for a 7 p.m. kickoff.
Camden rolls to win
The Camden football team piled up 334 rushing yards and used a 28-point second quarter en route to a 49-28 victory over host South Jefferson on Thursday night.
Noah Morse ran the ball 20 times for 166 yards and two touchdowns, one from 10 yards out an another from eight yards out. Quarterback Connor Dean ran four times for 70 yards, including ripping off a 56-yard touchdown run in that 28 point second quarter. Dean added his second rushing touchdown in the third quarter, this one from 24 yards away.
The junior quarterback was 4-of-7 for 83 yards and a touchdown through the air for the Blue Devils. His touchdown pass went to Aiden Reed; a 50-yard bomb in the second quarter.
Ashton Pickering led the Camden defense with seven tackles, six solos and two sacks. Dean also recorded a pick-6 for the Blue Devil defense.
Camden is 2-0 and hosts Oneida next Saturday at 6 p.m.