Fredonia (6-0) sewed up its second division title in the last three years Friday night at the Orange Bowl, as it cruised past Gowanda (2-4), 37-3, in Class C South football action.
"They realized (they won the division title)," Fredonia head coach Mike Marshall. "But I also think they're focused on the next level. Going into the game, we had an idea that we might be able to win this one, so I think we're looking forward to our next opponents and getting to the next level."
Like they have all season long, the Hillbillies didn't waste any time when they had the ball.
OBSERVER?Photo by Justin Goetz
Fredonia’s?Dylan?Meyer goes up for a pass over Gowanda’s Chase Williams (4) during Friday’s Class C?South high school football game.
After forcing Gowanda to go three-and-out on its first drive, Fredonia needed just five plays and 1:01 of game clock to go 55 yards for the game's first score, as Weston Ley found Cameron Voss from 13-yards out with 8:44 left in the opening quarter.
"We just don't have enough weapons," Gowanda head coach Sean Gabel said. "But we've got enough heart. If we played two more quarters, who knows what would have happened."
Both teams didn't do much with their chances the rest of the first quarter, but after the Hillbillies took over with 11:03 remaining in the second quarter, they needed just three plays to take a 13-0 lead, as Ley found Voss again, this time from 34-yards out.
"Those were good reads," Marshall said of Ley's two touchdown passes to Voss. "Other times he seems to concentrate on one side of the field rather than looking at the whole field. So, he missed a couple of people that were open early in the game, but he made up for it with the (receivers) that he did find."
Gowanda was able to establish some semblance of a running game, but as it has routinely done this season, Fredonia's defense bent but didn't break, forcing the Panthers to punt four times.
It was the third punt which caused the Panthers some trouble as Ley took it 70 yards to pay dirt to help the Hillbillies to a 20-0 lead with 3:31 left in the first half.
"You go in there and the game plan obviously is you want to get drives," Gabel said. "And you want to take away the big plays. That's what (Fredonia's) offense is, they make big plays. With the athletes they have, they can get the big plays."
After the fourth punt of the first half by Gowanda, Fredonia was left with a drive start at the Panthers' 18-yard line. Two plays later, Matt McCarthy found the end zone from 6-yards out with 1:45 left in the second quarter.
"It was hard," Gabel said of his team giving up two touchdowns late in the first half to put the game essentially out of reach. "We never broke. We buckled, but we never broke."
The Panthers' defense played better in the second half, allowing just 10 points over the final two quarters, but the offense wasn't able to get much going, as the only three points Gowanda scored came on a 28-yard field goal by Lucas Brawdy.
"I think it was a little bit of (the game plan) and that Gowanda was able to shut the offense down a little bit," Marshall said. "But also, we had people in different positions due to injuries we have on the team."
Fredonia's lone touchdown of the second half came with 5:27 left in the third quarter after McCarthy found the end zone from 5-yards out to complete a 7-play, 74-yard drive that covered 2:21.
McCarthy finished with 104 yards on 12 carries, but the yards didn't come as easy as they have in previous games.
"We held him down," Gabel said of McCarthy. "They have great athletes. We don't have the athletes they have, but we have the heart. I'm proud of our kids."
"I don't know how many times we passed compared to how many times we ran," Marshall said. "But we're starting to get a little more of the passing game going."
Last week, Ley threw for more than 300 yards against Allegany-Limestone and finished the game Friday 13 of 18 with two touchdowns and two interceptions.
"It was (Weston Ley's) first night with an interception," Marshall said. "But he's usually accurate and if he can get his feet under him, I think he showed (Friday) that he can connect with people and really hit the long ball and the short one."
The final points of the game were put on the board by Nick Johnston, who connected on a 47-yard field goal with less than a minute remaining.
NOTES: Brennan Geiger finished with 132 yards on 25 carries for the Panthers while adding six tackles on defense ... Brawdy finished 5 of 22 through the air for 117 yards ... Lucas McKeever had five tackles, an interception and a sack in the loss ... Dylan Meyer had 72 yards on four receptions in the win while Voss finished with 51 yards on three catches and two touchdowns ... Brett Seekings and Cody Smith (interception) had nine tackles each to lead the Hillbillies' defense.