SOLVAY – Raised to no. 4th place in the first regional Class C ranking of the fall, the Cazenovia football team was now a clear target for any opponent – as they quickly discovered.
Venturing to Solvay on Friday night, the Lakers had to go all the way before holding the Bearcats 28-21, a game far closer than Cazenovia’s comfortable wins over Skaneateles and Bishop Ludden.
Solvay came into the game with a 2-1 record, having shown great improvement from the team that went 1-6 a season ago, and in front of the home fans at Al Merola Field he spent most of the first half guarding the powerful Lakers offense. quiet – with one big exception.
From his own 20-yard line just past the first quarter midpoint, JP Hoak threw deep and found Brayden Weismore, who found himself behind the Bearcats secondary to complete an 80-yard touchdown play.
For a while, that simple play was enough as, for the third straight week, Cazenovia’s defense recorded a first-half shutout, allowing the Lakers to wait out their struggles in the other side of the ball and lead 7-0 at the break.
It wasn’t until midway through the third quarter that Cazenovia added to their margin, with Hoak scoring from a one-yard dive. But Solvay, down 14-0, struck for the first time, leading to the Lakers’ seven before Jaysin Bliss found the end zone.
Again, Cazenovia’s defense took control in the fourth quarter, forcing a Solvay punt deep into their own territory. Bearcats forward at 37 Jack Byrnes picked up blocks and headed for the goal line for the Lakers’ first special teams TD of the season.
When the Bearcats narrowed the margin to 21-14 when Bliss scored on a six-yard run, patient Lakers driving restored the two-point cushion, with Jack Donlin going the final two yards for the TD.
Even here visitors could not relax. Solvay reduced the margin to seven when Bliss scored his third touchdown from one yard with less than a minute to play. It wasn’t until a live kick went out of bounds that the Lakers could put the game aside.
Hoak ran for 103 yards on 14 carries to go with his eight-for-14 pass for 129 yards, though he had just 49 yards through the air outside of the scoring long pass to Weismore. Donlin gained 82 yards on just nine carries.
Solvay would have much more time on the ground – 65 plays, compared to 42 for Cazenovia – and had 300 total yards. Byrnes and Jed Olkowski each had six tackles, with Brad Gagnon getting 11 assists to go along with his four solo tackles and Connor Adams adding 10 assists.
Cazenovia returns to Buckley-Volo Field next Saturday at 1:30 a.m. to welcome Clinton.