Senior scores three touchdowns; Falcons improve to 4-1
By David Yarger
Friday night was something players on coach Russ Nixon's Falcons squad won't forget for a long time. In front of a packed crowd at Terry Harvey Field, including a loud and proud Black Hole student section, the Niagara-Wheatfield Falcons defeated Kenmore West for a homecoming victory, 28-21.
The win improves the Falcons' record to 4-1 (3-1 Class A1) this season and inches them closer to clinching a playoff spot.
After both teams were stopped on their first drives of the game, the Falcons scored first on its next drive.
A pass play of 23 yards from Jordan Parks to Jake DeWolf for 23 yards, followed by a Parks 20-yard run placed the ball at the one-yard line. From there, Parks snuck it in himself and put the Falcons in front of Kenmore West, 7-0.
The Blue Devils were quick to answer, though, as quarterback Zac Boyes found Ramon Hills for a 41-yard touchdown pass, which capped a five-play drive and tied the game at 7-7.
On the Falcons ensuing possession, the team answered the Blue Devils' score. First, Parks had a 58-yard touchdown run called back due to holding. The big play on the drive came on third down and 11 yards to go, as Parks scrambled to his right and threw a pass deep down field to Noah Mixon for a 38-yard gain. Following an Austin Leber run for seven yards, Nick Stott scored from four yards out to put the lead back in the Falcons' hands, 14-7.
The Falcons were able to recover the ensuing kickoff, but couldn't manage to put points on the board.
At halftime, the Falcons led, 14-7.
Out of the gate at halftime, the Blue Devils sent a message to the Falcons and scored on an 8-yard keeper from Boyes. The play capped a six-play drive and, after a successful two-point conversion, the Blue Devils took the lead, 15-14.
The Falcons did not back down from the score, though. On the Falcons' ensuing drive, Stott ran four times for 31 yards and capped it off with a six-yard touchdown run to give the Falcons the lead back, 20-15.
On defense, the Falcons have been known to cause turnovers this season. The Falcons have caused nine fumble recoveries in 2018. On the next defensive drive, they increased that total to 10 after Noah Bennett picked up a Blue Devils fumble.
The Falcons have also been able to turn the turnovers into points, as well. On the offensive drive, Stott picked up where he left off, rushing four more times for 34 yards, capping it off with a 16-yard touchdown run to make it 28-15, Falcons.
Following the Falcons score, the Blue Devils used 13 plays, which Boyes capped off with another rushing touchdown - this time from seven yards for the score. The extra point was no good and N-W remained ahead, 28-21.
After a turnover on downs for the Falcons, the Blue Devils took over with less than three minutes to go in the fourth quarter. On second down and 15 yards to go, Boyes looked to pass, but the pass was intercepted by Mixon, hindering any type of comeback hopes.
With 19 seconds remaining, it was fourth down and two yards to go. Nixon sent the offense back onto the field and with a hard count from Parks, a Blue Devils defender jumped over the line of scrimmage to effectively end any Blue Devils chance.
As the Falcons ran onto the field with joy, the final was 28-21, Niagara-Wheatfield.
The Falcons playoff chances also received a major boost as West Seneca West defeated Jamestown, 40-12. Jamestown defeated N-W in week four, but the loss is the Red Raiders' third overall and second in league play.
In the second-ever night football game at Terry Harvey Field, Nixon was happy to see his boys be the victors this year after losing the first night game last season.
"It's absolutely amazing for these guys," Nixon said. "They obviously had a setback last week and to have the mindset to bounce back, come out here, to execute on offense - I can't speak enough about how ... we did a much better job of playing our game, let the game come to us and taking what they were giving us, capitalizing on defense, tackles and turnovers. Defense came through clutch again for us."
Once the Falcons were down 15-14, Nixon knew his team would answer and not hang its heads.
"They had that mindset. They knew. They could feel it that we were able to run between the tackles tonight and get to the outside, too, and kind of keep them on their heels a little bit, even though they wanted to bring some pressure. And the O-line they did a good job of putting that thing on their shoulders," Nixon said.
Nixon also praised Stott for the game he had with three touchdowns.
"I've known he had that in him going back to last year," Nixon said.
Of the game, Stott said, "I can't even take this (for myself), it was all the (offensive) line. The line literally made the holes and I just ran through. I made the one cut that I needed and they led us to victory."
Stott added that making the playoffs would be the greatest accomplishment the team has accomplished in quite a few years and winning on homecoming as a senior - there was no better feeling.
Stott finished the night with 21 carried for 148 yards and the three key touchdowns. Also, offensively, Parks added 14 carried for 71 yards and a touchdown; Leber carried 11 times for 51 yards; Mixon had three receptions for 59 yards; and DeWolf has two receptions for 33 yards.
Defensively, Griffin Cornwell led with eight tackles, while Tom Peltier and Josh Thibeault added six tackles. Also, Cole Janowsky added a fumble recovery.
On homecoming weekend, Nixon gave a big shout out to the loud Black Hole student section that showed up for the Friday night contest.
"My head is throbbing right now, so they did a good job. They did a real good job," Nixon said.
Next up for the Falcons - the West Seneca West Indians on the road.
The Indians are the No. 1 team in New York state Class A. Nixon said his team will be prepared for the big-time challenge.
"We're gonna prepare the same way we did this week," Nixon said. "We're going to focus on the fundamentals, we'll get some film on them, we'll do our best scouting them, put our game plan together. ... Any given night - that's why we come out here and play."
The battle at West Seneca West is at 7 p.m. Friday.