from the The Binghamton Press & Sun-Bulletin and hopefully
soon, the Corning Leader and the Rochester Democrat &
Chronicle newspapers follow next on this page (I expect to find
articles from those papers on Monday). All three papers also had some preview
for the game. Those articles are below the stats on this page.
Juriga's 3 TDs
put Blue Devils in championship
Press & Sun-Bulletin
SYRACUSE -- Indeed, that
was Chenango Forks playing football Saturday in the Carrier
Dome. Blue uniforms, red helmets, sound and active defense --
uh-huh, those were the Blue Devils, alright.
But get a load these numbers,
the most telling difference-makers in a 28-14 win over Bath that
earned Forks a berth in the Class B state final for a second
The Blue Devils took a first-quarter lead they wouldn't
relinquish on a 44-yard, first-down touchdown pass from Matt
Juriga to Tim Green.
* They go up top again,
Juriga-to-Nick Mirabito for a 21-yard score, and make it 14-6
late in the first quarter.
* Then, on the third play of
the second quarter -- again on first down -- it was Juriga to
tight end Zach Tarnowski for a 66-yard catch-and-run gem of a
By halftime it was 28-6, and
the Blue Devils' bread-and-butter running game had given way to
... well ... Air Forks!
The victory earned Forks (12-0)
a matchup against Harrison, a 31-21 winner over Lansingburgh in
Saturday's other semifinal, in the title game at noon a week
from today back at the Carrier Dome. On that day, the Devils
will look to secure the title that eluded them in a
one-touchdown loss last year to Peru.
aerial display caught many in the Blue Devils' section of Dome
bleachers off guard, and certainly did likewise to Bath (10-1),
which came prepared for a steady dose of Forks power.
After all, Chenango Forks
doesn't throw the football, right?
"I've been hearing that
all season, that we're a one-dimensional team," said
Juriga, named Forks' offensive MVP by a state football
committee. "Personally, as a quarterback, I take a little
offense to that. I have confidence in myself and my teammates
that we can throw any time we want.
"We just haven't had to
Make no mistake, on Saturday,
against a large, extremely physical Bath defense bent on
containing the run, Forks had to throw.
"You think we're going to
win that game running it every play against that team?"
Forks coach Kelsey Green asked. "They are a bigger,
stronger version of the team we saw last year (in a 7-0 overtime
win in the state semifinal round). I just didn't think that,
consistently, we were going to move the ball down field on
And so, Forks passed.
first score came one play after Forks' Drew Batty intercepted a
pass to set up his team at Bath's 44-yard line. Juriga dropped
and threw to his left, connected with Tim Green at about the
20-yard line, and Green -- who made the catch with no defender
within 10 yards -- made it into the end zone.
Tim Batty's PAT kick made it
7-0 midway through the opening quarter.
Bath's Mark Robinson answered,
with an 8-yard TD run that finished a 75-yard drive. But the
Rams missed the PAT kick, and it was 7-6.
Not for long.
On Forks' fifth play after the
score, Juriga delivered a soft pass into the end zone that
Mirabito ripped away from defender Cody Muchler for the TD. Tim
Batty's kick made it 14-6 with 1:23 to play in the quarter.
Forks' defense forced Bath
three-and-out, took possession after the ensuing punt on its
42-yard line, but was backed up a holding penalty 2 yards into a
rush by Kelsey Jenks.
On first-and-18, Juriga threw
deep down the Bath sideline and Tarnowski -- 6-foot-3 and 236
pounds of tight end -- made the catch on a dead sprint at the
43-yard line and continued in for his team's third passing TD in
12:40 of game action.
Yes, Bath, there is a Forks
"They were playing up real
tight in the box, and we felt like we could get a couple balls
behind their defense," Tarnowski said. "That's exactly
what we did."
Mirabito said, "I don't
know what was going through coach Green's mind this morning --
but, hey, it worked."
Juriga's only three completions
in five attempts went for 131 yards and three TDs. He added 75
yards worth of tough rushing, Forks' second-best behind the
19-carry, 103-yard total of Jenks.
Jenks, named defensive MVP
based on his work at nose guard, got into the end zone on a
highlight-reel run of 53 yards midway through the second
Jenks carried the ball to his
right, got around the corner, headed down the sideline and
blasted through a tackle attempt by the Rams' Dave Putman at the
A lengthy trip through years
worth of film might be required to find the last ballgame in
which 75 percent of Forks' TDs in a ballgame were scored via the
"The corner was playing so
tight, so we'd go with a little play action and they'd bite,
that's why the fly would be wide open," Juriga said.
"It went over our heads a
couple of times," Bath coach Wayne Carroll said. "If I
had about four plays to do over ... "
With a 28-6 lead in hand, the
Blue Devils didn't throw again, instead turning matters over to
what they hoped would be a ball-control running game working in
concert with their extraordinary defense.
While the running game was
fairly well bottled up by Bath's defense, the Blue Devils'
defenders more than held up their end.
Bath's second-half TD came on a
31-yard rush by Robinson (28 carries, 158 yards) with 2:21 to
play in the third. Thereafter, the Rams didn't penetrate beyond
Forks' 40-yard line.
"You cannot get behind
28-6 and expect to win a high school football game,"
Especially not against Forks.
Photo caption top: Tim
Green celebrates with Matt Stephens, right, after Green scored
the first touchdown.
Photo caption middle: Matt
Juriga is tackled by Bath's Mike Stromsness, back left, and Adam
Photo caption bottom: Assistant
coach Dave Hogan celebrates a first-quarter touchdown by the
The Binghamton Press' "5th Quarter" - Tuesday Nov 26,
QUARTER: CF takes offense to the air
game surprised Bath
BY KEVIN STEVENS
Press & Sun-Bulletin
Just maybe, the time has come to
update the football scouting report on Chenango Forks.
The Blue Devils, who breezed along unbeaten by running the
football through their first 11 games, wisely -- and with great
efficiency -- sprinkled in the pass in Saturday's 28-14 win over
Bath to advance to the Class B state title game at noon on
Sunday against downstate power Harrison.
Here was a team that, before
Saturday's contest in the Carrier Dome, had passed for two
touchdowns in its most recent eight ballgames combined.
Against Bath, quarterback Matt
Juriga threw for scores on three consecutive passes.
"We thought we could hurt
them on outside streaks on early downs, we couldn't wait until
passing situations," Forks coach Kelsey Green said. "I
think maybe because of our option, they crowded the line of
scrimmage a little bit.
"But we couldn't make a
living doing that (passing), either. Once that worked a couple
times, that was over."
Juriga's TD throws went for 44
yards to Tim Green, 21 yards to Nick Mirabito -- who ripped the
ball from a defender in the end zone -- and 66 yards to tight
end Zach Tarnowski.
"On early downs, they gave
us a few looks that we thought we might be able to exploit, so
we did," Green said. "It worked early, then I was sort
of a coward in the second half and decided to play the clock. It
worked, but it was a little hairy there for a while."
Mirabito said, "(Bath) had
tons of guys in the box, and we knew we were quicker than
Juriga added, "The corner
was playing so tight, so a little play action, they'd bite on
that and the fly would be wide open. That's what happened on the
deep ball a couple times, play-action fakes opened it up."
The lone TD passes thrown by
Forks in its most recent eight games had been a 47-yarder from
Juriga to Green on Nov. 2 against Oneonta, and a 31-yarder from
Juriga to Mirabito on Oct. 25 against Bainbridge-Guilford/Afton.
Bath earned the respect of one
and all on Forks' sideline for a second consecutive season. It
was largely the same group of players that made up the team
Forks slipped past by 7-0 in overtime in a 2001 state semifinal.
"We've played them twice,
and I still don't know who's the best team," Green said.
"We happened to win both. I feel awful for them. We know
the feeling from a year ago, it's a bad feeling. But in a day or
so, they'll realize that they're pretty darned special -- and we
had to be that way to beat them today.
"I don't think there were
any secrets between the two teams. It's almost like now we're in
the same conference or something. They knew what we were going
to do, except for a couple of those throws. And we knew what
they were going to do. Then, it's just stopping them. They were
tough to stop." ...
Forks senior Kelsey Jenks
actually required a breather or two during Saturday's game. He
sat out a handful of offensive plays, yielding fullback duties
to Steve Tronovitch.
"Kelsey is fine, he's
exhausted," Green said moments after the game. "The
kid carries the ball, plays nose guard and goes 100 mph every
play. I don't care what shape you're in, you're going to be
tired, especially given the kids he's playing against. Those
were physical kids."
Tarnowski added, "The was
the most physical game of the year -- by far." ...