A preview article on the game from the
Press and Sun-Bulletin is
The feature article the Press and
Sun-Bulletin ran on Coach Chickanosky is
The article from the Rochester paper is at the bottom of this
page, below the stats.
survives in OT
Devils will shoot for first state title
BY KEVIN STEVENS
Press & Sun-Bulletin
SYRACUSE -- Through 48 minutes of offensive futility and
defensive splendor, zeroes remained affixed to the respective
scoreboard space assigned Chenango Forks and Bath.
But then, in the time it takes a
160-pound quarterback to cover 20 yards of Carrier Dome carpet
carrying a football in hand and a team's steadfast refusal to
lose on his shoulders, Forks struck.
Chris Spencer's heads-up option keeper
on the first play of overtime was the difference, the most
glittering highlight in a season chock-full of them for Forks,
7-0 winner over Bath in Friday's Class B state semifinal.
The top-ranked Blue Devils, perfect
through a dozen games in this unforgettable season, earned a
the state title in a game to be played a week from tonight in
the Dome against either Peru (11-0) or Harrison (10-0).
"It was a war the whole game, on
both sides of the ball, we were just kicking the crap out of
each other," said Spencer, a junior and one-half of Forks'
quarterback platoon. "But we knew, sooner or later, we'd be
able to break one."
Break one, Spencer did, dramatically,
authoritatively, and with aid of picturesque path-clearing from
his mates up front.
The Blue Devils had the football first
in overtime, for which the format calls for each team to start
on the opponent's 20-yard line.
The call was for a mid-line option, a
play that had been effective in the early going.
Spencer accepted the snap, faked to his
fullback through the line, slid a step or so to his right and
ran virtually unmolested until he reached about the 2-yard line.
There, he summoned what energy remained to power through the
remaining defender and across the goal line.
Steve Tronovitch made good on the PAT
kick, and it was up to Forks to serve up one more helping of the
defensive dominance on display by both sides for the entirety of
With Bath, a Section 5 school located a
half-hour west of Corning, facing second-and-9 from the 19,
quarterback Keith Cagle attempted a pass intended for Heath
Jimerson, but Forks' Coy Reynolds intercepted and the Blue
Devils' celebration was on.
These Blue Devils, who had rung up no
fewer than 25 points in a game since September, survived on one
One view of The Touchdown, from
"It was a mid-line option. All I do
is read the first man outside the center. He came down on it so
I didn't give it to the fullback. There was a huge hole there. I
had to beat the safety so I just lowered my shoulder and dove
for the end zone."
The Touchdown, as Forks coach Kelsey
Green saw it:
"We got Chris on the seam and, boy,
did he sniff that goal line out. He was gone. It's just how it's
drawn up. If you block everybody the way we're supposed to, it's
him on the safety."
And, The Touchdown, as seen from behind
the facemask of center Juan Mendoza:"Chris made a great
read, saw they were coming down, he was able to get around-- it
was a great run by him."
It was an opportunity cashed in,
finally, unlike previous chances squandered on a day Forks ran
up against a defense as sound as its own.
Forks' first possession lasted 15 plays
and covered 59 yards before a fourth-down incompletion thrown by
Spencer from Bath's 15-yard line. Along the way, the Blue Devils
were flagged twice for 5 yards, nickle-and-dime miscues that
would gnaw at them periodically throughout.
The Devils' next drive began at their
44-yard line and, again, ended at Bath's 15 when Roy Deyo was
stopped for no gain on fourth-and-2. Thrown into the mix was a
holding penalty against Forks.
Then, after Drew Batty recovered a
fumbled pitch to give Forks possession at the Rams' 24-yard
line, another drive ended when Bath recovered a fumble at its
15-- three plays after Forks was assessed 5 yards for illegal
Bath, meanwhile, didn't snap the
football once in Forks territory before halftime.
"[Forks'] defense was like a
wall," Bath's Cagle said. "We couldn't do much. Passes
were here and there, but we could not run the ball."
Bath's deepest penetration into Forks
territory during regulation came late in the fourth quarter. On
a fourth-and-1 play from the Blue Devils' 38, Cagle faked a
handoff through the middle, pivoted and -- on his first carry of
the afternoon -- picked up 7 yards outside to set up first down
with about three minutes to play.
Forks' defense was in a tight spot-- and
Mark Robinson, Bath's 1,300-yard rusher,
was stopped after a 1-yard gain on first down. Then, after an
offside penalty backed up Bath to the 35, Cagle tried once again
to sneak around the outside. This time, Forks' Art Badger was
there to drag him down for a 9-yard loss.
On the next play, Spencer picked off a
wobbly pass deep in the middle of the secondary.
"Our defense was just unreal,"
Green said. "I know their quarterback had a bad ankle
coming in, but in the beginning of the game, he looked like he
was moving pretty well. But then he hurt it again. With him
hurt, they really became a between-the-tackles team.
"We felt, most of the time we were
going to be able to stop that kind of thing. Outside, inside,
our kids were flying all over. I think by the end of the game we
had taken over that line of scrimmage very much."
Spencer was intercepted by Robinson four
plays after he'd picked off Cagle's pass, and Bath attempted a
desperation 49-yard field goal on the final play of the fourth
quarter, a line-drive kick that caromed off a lineman.
Forks outrushed Bath 193-84, with
Spencer's 58 yards on eight carries leading the way. Spencer was
selected Forks' offensive MVP by a committee of state officials,
and senior end Baxter was chosen the Devils' defensive MVP.
"Bath was, by far, the best team
we've played all year," Mendoza said.
"They were physical," Spencer
said. "They weren't fancy; they were going to come right at
us all game."
(top) - Chris Spencer
doesn't have the ball, but he has the game's only
touchdown, leading Chenango Forks to a 7-0 overtime
victory over Bath on Friday at the Carrier Dome.
Spencer, tackled by Keith Smith, lost the ball, but
not until after crossing the goal line on a 20-yard
option run on the first play of OT
(lower) - Chris Spencer
puts the exclamation point to the winning TD