By Rob Potter
ROSCOE The Chester Hambletonians used a strong rushing attack to win a Section IX Class D game on Saturday afternoon against the host Livingston Manor/Roscoe Devilcats.
Chester, which held a 24-6 lead at halftime, gained more than 350 yards on the ground on its way to a 46-6 victory over the Devilcats at Alan B. Sullivan Field in Roscoe.
Chester improved its overall record to 4-2 and 1-0 in Class D. LMR’s record dropped to 1-5 and 0-1, respectively.
The Hambletonians took an 8-0 lead in the first quarter as Sean Benison scored on a 1-yard run and teammate James Ognibene ran for the two-point conversion.
In the second quarter, a 2-yard rush by Benison and conversion run by quarterback Matt Balzano extended the Chester lead.
But the Devilcats answered on their very next offensive play. On first-and-10 from their own 35-yard line, quarterback Troy Correa dropped back and threw a pass to Adam Hendrix, who outran a couple of defenders on his way to the end zone for a 65-yard TD.
Although the two-point conversion failed, LMR had cut the Hambletonians lead to 16-6 with 7:32 remaining in the quarter.
Another Benison TD run, this time for 14 yards, and a conversion rush by Balzano gave Chester its 18-point halftime lead.
In the third quarter, Balzano threw a 25-yard TD pass to Joe Gleeson and Mann scored on a 5-yard run to help Chester take a 38-6 lead into the final 12 minutes of play.
Mann, who led the Hambletonians with 233 yards on 26 carries, added a 37-yard TD run in the fourth quarter.
Benison carried the ball 17 times for 105 yards.
Balzano completed 4 of 8 passes for 54 yards.
“Matt Balzano has really improved as a quarterback,” Chester Coach Ron Stover said of his senior signal caller.
Stover also praised his team’s ability to run the ball, noting the Hambletonians “like to use three running backs in most cases.”
“We are looking forward to Friday night,” he added.
At 7 p.m. this Friday, Oct. 16, Chester will host the undefeated Eldred Yellowjackets in a Class D game. The Yellowjackets and Hambletonians last played each other in the Section IX Class D championship game last November at Middletown High School’s Faller Field. Chester claimed the title with a 24-14 triumph.
Correa completed 7 of 14 passes for 168 yards. Hendrix was the Devilcats’ leading receiver with four catches for 85 yards, while Brandon Smith had two receptions for 60 yards and Chad Rosario caught one pass for 23 yards.
“Chester has a fine football team,” LMR Co-Coach Fred Ahart said. “They play well offensively and defensively. Matt Balzano is a very good quarterback who can run and pass. Chester certainly deserves a lot of credit.
“We’re looking to keep improving and developing each week,” Ahart added. “We are looking forward to our Homecoming game next Saturday in Livingston Manor.”
The contest to which Ahart referred is the Devilcats’ Homecoming, which is scheduled to kick off at 1:30 p.m. this Saturday, Oct. 17 at Livingston Manor Central School. LMR will face Harpursville, a Section IX Class D team in the game.
Note: With 2:22 remaining in Saturday’s game, two Chester players, Mike Conklin and John Wilson, were injured on the same play. Conklin was able to walk back to the sideline after being down for a couple of moments, but members of the Roscoe-Rockland Volunteer Ambulance Corps carefully placed Wilson on a stretcher and transported him to the hospital for further evaluation and treatment.
Prior to the game, the six LMR seniors, Ross Abbott, Nathan Brock, Troy Edwards, Russell Mootz, Stephen Rogers and Brett Youngblood, and their parents and/or grandparents were honored in a special ceremony at midfield.