- The Le Roy football team's season came to a crashing end at PAETEC Park
Saturday in the semifinals of the New York State Public High School Athletic
Association semifinals. It probably shouldn't have, but it did.
Officials mismanaged the clock in the closing seconds with the Oatkan
Knights at the Bishop Ludden goal line and the Gaelic Knights are moving
on to the state finals next week after a 34-33 overtime win.
"It's extremely frustrating because we worked our butts off and it
came down to that," said senior lineman John Whiting. "They
ran a few seconds off, didn't give us a timeout, didn't stop it after
the first down - there's nothing we can do. It just sucks to end that
The insanity that was the end of regulation started with 2:06 left on
the clock when Le Roy stopped Ludden on a fourth-and-2 at the Ludden 48-yard
line. Quarterback Travis Fenstermaker gained 26 yards on the first play
of the ensuing drive when he went right up the middle. He kept the ball
on the next three attempts, with a Le Roy false start penalty also in
the stretch, and Mike Humphrey moved the ball to the 4-yard line with
Fullback Brady Bonacquisti picked up a first down with a short run inside
the Ludden 1-yard line. A few seconds were run off the clock before officials
stopped it with seven seconds left.
At this point, Le Roy had one timeout left and had the option of bringing
out the field goal unit or attempting one more play before stopping the
clock and attempting the kick.
"I was in a situation where I wanted to finish the game running the
football, making all 11 kids in that situation rather than the one who
has to kick it," said Le Roy coach Brian Moran. "That's a lot
of pressure for one kid."
The Oatkan Knights ran a quarterback dive with Fenstermaker, who was stopped
inches from the goal line. The play took three seconds and Bonacquisti
bounced off the pile and immediately signaled to line judge Pat Ford for
a time out. The coaching staff was also yelling for a clock stoppage from
the sideline, but Le Roy was not given the time out and the game went
"I was standing (right in front of) the line judge and I (signaled
for timeout) like 15 times," said the senior Bonacquisti, who was
named Le Roy's Most Valuable Defensive Player. "I looked at the clock
and there was one second left. He said there was no time left and didn't
give it to me."
"It's obviously going to come back on me that we didn't call it sooner
but I think we put ourselves in a situation to win the game and I thought
our kids responded extremely well," Moran said. "We were in
a situation where we didn't get the timeout when we wanted it."
High school football overtime rules allow each team to get a possession
starting from the opponents 20-yard line, and Ludden had the first shot
at scoring. Senior quarterback Connor Sweeney - who has received interest
from Boston College, Indiana, Louisville, Maryland, Penn St. and Syracuse
- and tossed a 12-yard touchdown pass to John Rooney. Ben Searle added
the extra point.
Le Roy's possession saw Ian Humphrey rush for seven yards, Bonacquisti
gain six and Humphrey cap off the drive with a 2-yard TD run. Fenstermaker's
kick was blocked by 5-foot-9 junior Nate Stewart, giving the Gaelic Knights
a 1-point victory and a trip to Syracuse to face Dobbs Ferry next weekend.
Moran said he thought about going for two, but decided on going for the
tie and the second overtime.
Despite the controversy at the end of the game, the contest was an epic
battle between two great teams that will be remembered as one of the most
exciting contests either team has played all season.
Ludden marched right down the field to start the game, but Le Roy's defense
made a stop on a fourth-and-goal play from the 4-yard line.
The Oatkan Knights had a long way to go for a score, but made it look
easy as on the eighth play of the drive, Fenstermaker hooked up with Andrew
Alexander, who broke a couple of tackles and scored on a 66-yard pass.
The Gaelic Knights answered right back with the running game as Daquan
Grobsmith went for 44 yards on an option pitch and Sweeney kept the ball
on an option play for a 19-yard touchdown run on the next play.
Le Roy's next drive came to a quick end as a trick play failed. Fenstermaker
tossed the ball to Mike Humphrey, who attempted to throw a deep pass to
Alexander. The ball was picked off by Grobsmith.
Ludden's high-powered offense gained 37 yards on a pair of simple fullback
blasts and Sweeney threw a 25-yard touchdown pass to Wendell Williams.
Searle's extra point attempt came up short of the goal post, giving Ludden
a 13-7 advantage.
Le Roy used the rushing attack to march 66 yards on 11 plays to answer
with a 4-yard Bonacquisti touchdown run. Fenstermaker injured his foot
near the end of the drive and went to the sidelines to get taped up during
the extra point. Sophomore Quentin Humphrey had to kick while Fenstermaker
was getting taken care of, and he missed the extra point.
Ludden took a 20-13 lead into halftime as Sweeney rushed the ball four
times during a 10-play drive, including a 10-yard touchdown run.
The Oatkan Knights mounted a drive on the final possession of the half,
but couldn't score from the Ludden 19-yard line on the final play before
Ian Humphrey broke a 29-yard run to set up a Fenstermaker 1-yard TD plunge
to open the second half. Le Roy took the lead when a Fenstermaker 22-yard
pass to Jordain Holly set up a 2-yard Fenstermaker keeper for a score.
Williams had a 45-yard kick return, with 15 yards tacked on for a late
hit call on Le Roy to set up a 3-yard touchdown run by Grobsmith.
Le Roy had nine penalties for 85 yards while Ludden was flagged just twice
for nine yards.
"I don't mind calls, but you have to look overall at the management
of the game," Moran said. "And I don't know how well the game
Sweeney was the Most Valuable Offensive Player for Ludden (11-1) with
14 rushes for 81 yards while going 10-of-19 passing for 123 yards. Stewart
was the Most Valuable Defensive Player because of the blocked kick in
overtime and his 17 tackles.
Bonacquisti had seven tackles while breaking up a pass and rushed the
ball 23 times for 98 yards. Ian Humphrey had 20 carries for 93 yards and
Fenstermaker was Le Roy's Most Valuable Offensive Player with 16 rushing
attempts for 178 yards while going 12-of-17 passing for 164 yards.
The Oatkan Knights graduate 15 seniors and end the year with an 11-1 record.
"Football teaches life lessons and you don't always come out on top,
that's the way you have to look at it," Bonacquisti said. "These
were the two or three best years of my life spending every day at practice
with these guys. I've always enjoyed that."
- November 18, 2007 - At the end of an emotional afternoon, LeRoy's football
team carried home a big dose of frustration. The Bishop Ludden Gaelic
Knights from Syracuse peeled off their clothes and equipment during their
celebration. And there is no question, coaches and players from both teams
will remember the Class C state tournament semifinal Saturday, won in
overtime by Bishop Ludden, 34-33. Everyone involved will have at least
Ludden junior Nate Stewart, it is because he became a football hero. Stewart,
all 5-feet-9 inches of him, blocked LeRoy's conversion kick attempt in
overtime to seal the outcome. Bishop Ludden players and coaches peeled
off their shoulders pads, helmets and jackets as they jumped around on
the turf in celebration.
a basketball school,'' Bishop Ludden coach John Cosgrove said. "For
our football team to do this is unbelievable.''
That was one of the words that LeRoy coach Brian Moran could have used
to describe how the game was officiated. Moran
was upset after the game during a conversation on the field with state
football chairman Dick Cerone. The sad look worn by LeRoy players fueled
expect the best of the best,'' Moran said about officiating crews for
state tournament semifinals. "I don't know if we always get it.''
Moran later added, "Our kids work hard and it does come down to a
play or two here or there. The best officials go unnoticed and today they
Operation of the scoreboard clock in the second quarter and the difference
in penalties (LeRoy 9, Bishop Ludden 2) were mentioned by Moran. His biggest
beef boiled over late in the fourth quarter.
LeRoy stopped the Gaelic Knights on downs at the Bishop Ludden 48-yard
line and the score tied 27-27. The Oatkan Knights made it to the Bishop
Ludden 1-yard line with seven seconds remaining and one time-out available.
Le Roy tried another run play.
"I called time-out about 15 times while staring at the referee,''
LeRoy senior fullback Brady Bonacquisti said. He said, "No, time
ran out. There was one second left on the clock. I wasn't going to argue,
he wasn't going to give it to me. We still should've won.''
Moran said that a field goal attempt was considered, but that would have
put "a lot of pressure'' on junior Travis Fenstermaker. LeRoy's
coach and athletic director also believed the Oatkan Knights should have
had more time to work with, but clock operators let too many seconds tick
away during the drive. This and past situations with officials left a
"bad taste'' in Moran's mouth, and he also said that retirement for
him might be "right around the corner.''
"It's almost to the point where if we win a sectional title we're
going to stay home,'' he said before a good luck wish for Bishop Ludden.
Daquan Grobsmith converted a fourth-and-four at the LeRoy 20 and knifed
into the end zone from three yards out with 9:08 remaining. Ben Searle's
conversion kick tied the score, 27-27.
Bishop Ludden had possession first in overtime and scored on a 12-yard
pass reception by John Rooney. Searle's conversion kick put Bishop Ludden
ahead by seven points. Ian Humphrey ran into the end zone from a yard
out during LeRoy's overtime possession, but the Gaelic Knights protected
surprised,'' Bishop Ludden quarterback/defensive back Connor Sweeney said
about Le Roy's decision at the end of regulation. "I heard him call
time-out but they didn't give it to him because the play wasn't over.
I didn't hear the whistle blow until there was no time left on the clock.''