Saturday, November 20, 2010

Dome, sweet Dome: Troy High defeats New Rochelle, 20-19

Troy High head coach Jack Burger (left) asks his team, "Where are we going?" "The Dome!" they replied, in unison. (Photos by Mike McMahon - The Record).

KINGSTON — The letters Z and E were missing from the back of Jordan Canzeri's jersey Saturday night and a few more were hanging by a thread.

It was that type of game for the Troy High football team.

For the second consecutive week, the Flying Horses came from behind late in the fourth quarter. This time, however, Troy did not earn another trip to Kingston. The Flying Horses instead punched their ticket to the Carrier Dome with a 20-19 New York State Class AA eastern semifinal victory over New Rochelle at Dietz Stadium.

“All we do is play Troy High football,” Canzeri said. “They were a good team. They were strong. They were fast. We didn't give up even though they were ahead. We've been down before at halftime and we've been down in the fourth quarter. We kept fighting and it was a great win.”

Canzeri, pictured above, scored his second touchdown of the game on a 50-yard run with 11:10 to play in the fourth quarter, but New Rochelle's Jordan Lucas returned the ensuing kickoff 85 yards for the go-ahead score.

Both teams lost possession of the ball on fumbles midway through the fourth quarter, but Troy made the most of a eight-play drive that started at midfield after a New Rochelle fumble. Senior quarterback Brian Marsh scored on an eight-yard run to put the Flying Horses ahead 20-10 with 1:54 to play.

Troy withstood a New Rochelle drive to Troy's 34-yard line in the final minute, forcing a turnover on downs that essentially ended the game.

Troy (12-0) will face Section V champion Rush-Henrietta (12-0) in the New York State Class AA championship game Sun., Nov. 28 at 3 p.m. at the Carrier Dome in Syracuse.

Canzeri, a senior running back and cornerback who finished with 183 rushing yards on 23 attempts, was named Troy's Most Outstanding Offensive Player of the Game.

Senior linebacker Kyle Geraci, who recovered a New Rochelle fumble in the third quarter that did not ultimately result in any points for the Troy offense, was named the team's Defensive Player of the Game.

New Rochelle (9-1), the five-time defending Section I champion, ran just eight plays in the first half, but gained 161 yards of total offense. Troy, comparatively, ran 36 plays before halftime, gaining 205 yards.

Capri Corn scored on a 67-yard run on the second play of New Rochelle's first offensive drive and Khaliq Butts ran for an 80-yard score (pictured, at left) on the first play of the Huguenots' third series.

“We didn't make the plays when we needed to,” Geraci said of the defensive effort in the first half. “We just needed to tackle and we came up big at the end. That's all that counts right now.”

Troy finished with 298 rushing yards on 54 attempts. Marsh, who ran for 74 yards on 13 attempts, added 96 passing yards on a 6-of-11 performance.

The Troy defense, led by Stephaun Grinage, seen here tackling New Rochelle's Jordan Lucas, played its best when it needed to in Saturday's state semifinal victory in Kingston.

New Rochelle has allowed more than 22 points in a single game just four times since the start of the 2004 season. While that stingy streak continued for the Huguenots, Troy's defense was just a little bit better Saturday night.

“Defense wins championships,” said senior wide receiver and safety Ian Blair. “We knew our offense was going to take care of it. We've got Jordan Canzeri and Shatiek (Lewis) running it. And Josh (Blaauboer, a receiver). Our O-line is the best in the section.

“It's all to our defense and our defense did it,” Blair continued.

Troy, which won state championships in 1996 and 1998, returns to the Carrier Dome for the first time since that 1998 season, a fact the players could barely believe as they were mobbed on the Dietz Stadium turf by parents and well-wishers after the victory.

“I'm not processing anything right now,” a teary-eyed Blair said. “It's the best feeling in the world.”

Troy (12-0) 0 7 0 13 - 20
New Rochelle (9-1) 7 6 0 6 – 19
First Quarter
NR – Capri Corn 67 run (Shaquille Evans kick) 4:39
Second Quarter
T – Jordan Canzeri 43 run (Badro Talbi kick) 7:47
NR – Khaliq Butts 80 run (kick failed) 6:49
Third Quarter
No scoring
Fourth Quarter
T – Canzeri 50 run (Talbi kick) 11:10
NR – Jordan Lucas 85 kick return (pass failed) 10:57
T – Brian Marsh 8 run (run failed) 1:54
Individual Statistics
Rushing: Troy (54-298): Canzeri 23-183, Marsh 13-74, Lewis 12-30, Geraci 4-11, Grinage 2-0. New Rochelle (24-200): Butts 7-70, Corn 3-67, Desir 5-28, Lucas 7-24, Cargill 2-11.
Passing: Troy: Marsh 6-11-0-96; Felder 0-1-0-0. New Rochelle: Butts 3-4-0-22.
Receiving: Troy (6-96): Blaauboer 2-64, Felder 1-13, Lewis 1-12, Blair 1-9, Canzeri 1-(-2). New Rochelle (3-22): Corn 1-12, Lucas 1-8, Evans 1-2.

Our Ed Weaver was at the game and penned the following sidebar story:

KINGSTON -- Some time today and perhaps Monday, the Troy Flying Horses will look back and think, if we hadn't been able to pull out that 20-19 victory over New Rochelle on Saturday night, what a terrible loss that would have been to relive -- for the rest of their lives.

The Flying Horses will play for the New York state Class AA championship at the Carrier Dome one week from today. Despite their outstanding defensive play on Saturday at Kingston's Dietz Stadium -- while they certainly deserved to win -- they were fortunate to gain the state title berth.

Take away three big plays -- one on a kickoff -- and Troy held the Huguenots to four first downs and 76 yards.

When Jordan Lucas picked up his own fumble -- which had been kicked ahead about 15 yards -- and returned a kickoff 89 yards for a touchdown, the Flying Horses trailed, 19-14.

They had just taken the lead on the previous play, on Jordan Canzeri's second touchdown run of the game.

"That would have been horrible," said linebacker Stephaun Grinage. "Horrible. "We'd have been real upset. But we're going to the Dome! I'm so happy."

"That would have been the most devastating loss ever," said senior linebacker Sean Peabody. "I couldn't have lived with it."

Flying Horses receiver Ian Blair dropped a sure touchdown in the end zone and dropped another pass that stalled another Troy drive. He played well in the secondary but he would have had a horrible bus ride home had the Horses not pulled out the victory.

"That would have been the worst thing in the world," Blair said. "The worst. I don't want to think about it."

Troy defensive end Luis Lind, who had two big tackles for losses, was asked if he was worried when Lucas scored on the weird kickoff.

"Well, we just had to continue to play hard and in the and never give up."

"We were worried," Grinage said. "But we got it back and got the lead back."

Defensive lineman Jay Yaskanich said, "to get to the Dome, what we worked for all year, I can't describe the feeling right now."

Had the Horses lost on New Rochelle's big play?

"Devastating," Yaskanich said. "I probably would have gone home and thought about all the things I could have done better."

Canzeri had his bell rung in the second quarter and had to leave for a couple plays.

"Yeah, I saw some worried faces (on the Troy sideline)," he admitted.

"I knew I had to do a little extra tonight," Canzeri said. "Everybody came up to me on the sidelines and they were just waiting for me to break something because I have a lot of weight on my back. My team depends on me to make plays like this and I just expect it."

Almost lost in everything that Canzeri did, was the two big receptions -- both on Troy scoring drives - made by receiver Josh Blaauboer.

"I feel great; we won," Blaauboer said. "Coach called my name in a couple big situations and the quarterback (Brian Marsh) came up big and made throws the defenders couldn't get to and I made the catches I had to make."

Yaskanich looked over at the stark disappointment on the New Rochelle sidelines.

"It almost didn't happen for us," he said. "But we did it. We're going to the Dome."

  • Notes: Here is a story on Rush-Henrietta's victory over Clarence in the regional round from the Rochester Democrat & Chronicle.
  • Here is a preview on the Baldwinsville team from the Syracuse Post-Standard.
  • This will be the final post on the Off The Record blog. Saturday was my final day at The Record. I would like to take a minute to thank all of the folks in the sports department for their support and help over the years in giving me the time to expand our digital efforts. And of course, I'm also thankful for the reporting of Ryan Kircher, who authored a great deal of the posts on this blog in its first year. Last but not least, thanks to all of the players and coaches that graciously gave me a few minutes of their time for the sake of telling their stories. I couldn't have done it without all of you and I wish the best of luck to all of you in the future.
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