Weekly Feature

2018-09-13 / Sports

Second-half rally pushes East football over South


For the second straight week, West Seneca East’s football team rallied from a halftime deficit on the road and recorded a victory.

The Trojans trailed Williamsville South, 20-12, at halftime and pulled away in the second half, including 16 points in the third quarter, for a 36-28 victory Friday. In Week One, West Seneca East trailed Jamestown, 12-7, at halftime and rallied for a 34-12 win.

“That is two weeks in a row,” West Seneca East coach Jim Maurino said. “I wish we wouldn’t do it, but we were sloppy and out of our element in the first half. I think we rallied a little bit at halftime and were able to make some adjustments and slow it down a little bit, and made some big plays. I think our line kind of took over in the second half and we wore them down late in the game.”

Shaun Dolac seemed to make a big play every down for the Trojans. The senior Shaun Dolac keeps his eyes on open space as Williamsville South defenders close in on him during West Seneca East’s 34-12 victory Friday. Photo by Kathleen KramerPurchase color photos at www.BeeNews.com Shaun Dolac keeps his eyes on open space as Williamsville South defenders close in on him during West Seneca East’s 34-12 victory Friday. Photo by Kathleen KramerPurchase color photos at www.BeeNews.com quarterback/linebacker rushed for 161 yards and tallied scores from 30 yards away early in the second quarter to break a 6-6 tie and a 1-yard touchdown, followed by a two-point conversion run, on the first series of the second half to tie the game at 20-20. Dolac also recorded 16 tackles, a tackle for a loss, and a sack on defense. He left the game early in the fourth quarter due to an apparent knee injury.

“He’s tremendous,” Maurino said. “I think the guys feed off of him. He’s the leader on both sides of the ball. Whether he’s a decoy or he is running it in, I think he sets everything for us. We go as he goes.”

West Seneca East’s entire starting backfield was on the sidelines at one point due to injuries. Maurino was pleased that others stepped up after Dolac left the game, most notably senior Nick Arnone, who rushed for 28 yards in the fourth quarter, including an 8-yard touchdown run and a two-point conversion throw to senior Jesse Pfeiffer that increased East’s lead to 36-20 with 6:29 remaining.

“Those yards might not show up on the stat sheet as a lot, but those are crucial as we were grinding out yards, getting first downs and using clock in the fourth quarter,” Maurino said.

“We just stuck with it,” Dolac said. “We play with heart on every down and we came together in the second half. Our offensive line stepped up and made some key blocks, and our defensive line and our secondary stepped up.”

The Trojans also received great contributions from sophomore Devare Mathis, who scored a 33-yard touchdown on East’s third offensive snap, and returned an interception 24 yards for a touchdown to break a 20-20 tie with 2:15 remaining in the third quarter. Mathis, a late addition to the JV, wasn’t even listed on the official game roster.

“He’s just a real instinctual player and that is what I kind of saw in him when we first brought him up,” Maurino said. “He played sparingly last week and we saw real potential in him. He played full-time today and that is where he needed to be for sure. That pick-six was a huge play.”

Senior Nick Hamme added six tackles for West Seneca East.

South played better than they did against Hutch-Tech in Week One (five turnovers, 34-14 loss), but still made some crucial miscues throughout the game.

A 15-yard unsportsmanlike penalty on third-and-7 at the South 45 led to Dolac’s 30-yard touchdown in the second quarter. On South’s next offensive series, a player fumbled while crossing the Trojans’ goal line. On South’s final touchdown drive in the fourth quarter, the Billies were flagged twice for holding penalties that called back one touchdown and negated a long run down to the East 1-yard line.

“Our [team’s] compete level was very good,” South coach Kraig Kurzanski said. “West Seneca East made a couple more plays. It’s so hard when the margin of victory in these league games are so thin. We can’t make critical errors. That is why learning to win is so important, and [that we should] never accepting losing, but being able to lose with humility. We made a lot of strides. We are a much better football team than last Friday. We have to keep chipping along.”

There were several bright spots the Billies can build on.

Senior quarterback Joe Battaglia threw a 19-yard touchdown to junior R-Son Stone on fourth down that tied the game at 6-6 late in the first quarter. Battaglia completed 10-of-21 passes for 104 yards and rushed eight times for 43 yards.

“Joey is a terrific competitor,” Kurzanski said. “I’m proud to watch that because he’s everything we embody in our program.”

Junior Mike Masecchia stepped in front of a pass from Dolac and returned it 26 yards for a touchdown with a little over three minutes left in the first half. It was his second interception of the season. He also caught a two-point conversion pass from Battaglia that cut the deficit to 36-28 with 3:51 left.

“He’s a leader,” Kurzanski said. “He [did not play] last year due to an injury and is playing like he missed it.”

Jones finished with 16 carries for 152 yards, including scores of 12 yards with 17 seconds left in the first half and 5 yards with 3:51 left in the game, and caught four passes for 49 yards. He also had nine tackles and a sack on defense.

Senior Coran Peterson led the Billies with 16 tackles. Stone added 11 tackles.

Both teams return to action at 7 p.m. Friday. West Seneca East hosts Amherst while South plays South Park at All-High Stadium.

“We have a lot of guys playing hard; we have to play smarter and that comes with growing,” Kurzanski said. “We don’t have the experience. At one point, nine of our 11 defenders against West Seneca East were either sophomores or juniors. We’re close, but we’re not quite there yet.”

email: pnagy@beenews.com

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