The Red Jacket football team ran the ball with ease against Clyde-Savannah in the first half of their game Saturday afternoon. But the Golden Eagles' defense clamped down after halftime and held the Indians without a first down in a 30-26 win.
"We worked really hard this week on defense," said Clyde-Savannah coach Nick Dercola. "We put a couple little wrinkles in, and we just worked on playing hard and playing till the whistle blows. They finally really bought into it and did their assignments. The guys that had to give themselves up on a play gave themselves up and made it possible for the other kids to make the tackles. They played the best defensive game ever."
If Red Jacket (5-1) and Dundee (4-2) both win next week there would be a three-way tie for the Finger Lakes West League championship. Clyde-Savannah (5-1) finishes the year with a non-league game against University Prep.
Both teams were unbeaten when they met in week six of the 2012 season and the Indians won 34-27 to secure the league title.
"We went in there and were supposed to win and came out with the loss," said Clyde-Savannah quarterback Joe Faniel, who scored four touchdowns Saturday. "This year we come back and beat them on their field. It feels good."
Red Jacket opened the scoring on a 42-yard touchdown pass from Lee Perry to Austin Sheets in the first quarter. The running back caught the ball in the flat and raced down the right sideline. Kory Fogarty ran in the two-point conversion.
Later in the quarter, Clyde moved the ball downfield on a 52-yard hookup between Faniel and receiver Joemaine Bogan. Two plays later, Faniel found his other 6-foot-5 receiver, Kam DiSanto, open in the center of the end zone for a 3-yard score. The two-point conversion failed.
The Indians answered on their next drive, going 77 yards for a touchdown. Fullback Andrew Ogrodowski finished the drive with a 2-yard run up the middle. Red Jacket's two-point conversion failed.
Faniel ran back the ensuing kickoff 74 yards for a touchdown, making a few defenders miss. Todd Romano completed a pass to Bogan for the two-point conversion, tying the game at 14 with two minutes left in the opening quarter.
Red Jacket regained the lead on a 5-yard touchdown plunge by Sheets with 2:52 left in the half. The extra point missed.
After Clyde-Savannah turned the ball over on downs deep in Red Jacket territory, Romano intercepted a pass and returned it to the Indians' 20-yard line with 18 seconds left in the half. It only took one play for Faniel to complete a jump ball to DiSanto in the end zone. Faniel found Bogan for the two-point conversion, putting the Golden Eagles up 22-20 going into the half.
Page 2 of 2 - The Indians pulled ahead early in the third quarter when Tyler Gardner intercepted a pass and ran it back 37 yards for a touchdown. The two-point conversion failed.
The score remained 26-22 going into the fourth quarter. Clyde's game-winning touchdown drive started at Red Jacket's 43-yard line. Faniel scored on a 9-yard run where he ran down the right sideline and dove into the end zone. Romano hit Cal Felker for the two-point conversion.
Indians coach Marc Vitticore said his team fell out of alignment in the fourth quarter, which is something the Golden Eagles do to many of their opponents.
"When players are confused about their assignments, that's really on me," the coach said."We didn't tackle, and we weren't as fast and fierce as we normally are. That comes down to coaching. I think that was a big difference in the game for us."
Red Jacket went three and out on its final three possessions. It's the Indians' first loss since the Section 5 Class DD championship game.
"I told them, 'You guys are lucky because last year's seniors experienced their only loss by a 30-yard deficit,' Vitticore said. "It's a lot better to learn you're not invincible in the regular season to give us some room for improvement going into sectionals."
Red Jacket hosts Marcus Whitman at 1 pm. Saturday.