In a clash between two of Finger Lakes East's top teams, East Rochester-Gananda defeated Newark, 22-18, on the strength of two fourth-quarter touchdowns by senior running back Kendrick Watson.
"We had to rebound [after] a tough loss last week," said East Rochester-Gananda (4-1) coach Dennis Greco, referring to last week's 25-20 loss to Geneva, "We knew we came in to play a really tough Newark team that [was] undefeated and a very talented team."
Newark (4-1) was hosting its senior homecoming, and it would be the seniors that would put the first points on the board, as quarterback Phil Tack found Micah Wright for a 44-yard touchdown early in the second quarter to make it 6-0 (the kick failed).
After getting the ball at about midfield after a bad snap later in the quarter, ER/Gananda went to work and drove down the field, aided by a critical offsides call on Newark on a fourth and one play that gave the Bombers a first down that set up a touchdown run by Zach Hauser. The score and subsequent extra-point (also by Hauser) gave East Rochester a 7-6 lead, which they held for the final 1:44 going into the half.
The Reds would regain the lead a few minutes into the second half, as senior wide receiver Alec Otero ran in a 6-yard reverse to make it 12-6. An attempted two-point pass from Tack to Otero was incomplete.
It was in the fourth quarter that the game was ultimately decided, as rain began to fall. East Rochester regained the lead with 7:31 left in the game, as Kendrick Watson rumbled past defenders for a nice 24-yard run and Hauser ran in a two-point conversion to make it 14-12.
Still a close game, Newark took over and began driving down the field, only for Tack to make a fatal mistake, throwing an interception to senior Nate Teeter with 5:03 left in the game. Teeter returned the pick to Newark's 23, leading to a drive that culminated in Watson's second touchdown of the quarter, an 18-yard run that brought the score up to 22-12.
"Without our linemen, I wouldn't have made it," said Watson, who had been a fullback until recently, "it was just a good team effort, good blocking."
Newark would attempt to bring about a miracle comeback, as Tack found Wright for a 54-yard touchdown with about 1:20 left in the game to make the score 22-18, but both a two-point conversion and an onside kick failed, allowing the Bombers to run off the rest of the clock for the win.
"We just came up short," Newark head coach Mike McGavisk said. "We have to give credit to East Rochester, I think they played well. They made some key plays when they had to, so they deserved it tonight."
Page 2 of 2 - "It's our first loss of the season, but I told the guys, 'We lost a game tonight, not our season. There's a lot of season left.'"
Next week, East Rochester-Gananda heads to Waterloo while Newark also heads on the road, facing Palmyra-Macedon.