Story by Fred Stabbert III
LAKE HUNTINGTON The Sullivan West Bulldogs scored 15 points in the final 5 minutes of the game to beat the Chester Hambletonians, 15-14, in their first game of the season under the lights at Lake Huntington.
“I have to give them a lot of credit for coming back,” Head Coach Ron Bauer said. “The special teams played very well.”
In fact, it was a special teams punt return with 5:40 left in the game which sparked Sullivan West’s win.
Junior running back Jared Meola received the punt and broke up the left sideline 55 yards to finally put Sullivan West on the scoreboard, 14-6.
During the extra point try, holder Brad Hemmer faked the extra point, rolling out to his right and hit Meola in the endzone for two points, making it 14-8.
After a failed onsides kick, the Sullivan West defense stiffened, stopping Chester on a fourth-and-five play to get the ball back on their own 30-yard line with 3:01 to play.
Senior QB Sawyer Erlwein picked up a first down on two scrambles and then threw a 30-yard pass completion to senior Brad Hemmer to move the Bulldogs into Chester territory at the 40.
An 11-yard reverse by Eli Peters picked up another first down with just 1:48 left on the clock.
After an offsides moved the ball back to the 35, Erlwein completed a pass to the 25-yard line.
Erlwein then threw a long pass into the endzone intended for Brian Stauch. But a Chester defender knocked Stauch to the ground and the pass interference penalty put Sullivan West on the 12-yard line with 36 seconds left.
Two plays later, Erlwein again went to Stauch and this time the wide open sophomore hauled in the pass to tie the game with 8.4 seconds left.
The Bulldogs again lined up for the extra point and placekicker Mike Sedlack booted it through to win the game.
Offensive Coordinator Kurt Buddenhagen told his squad after the game, “You didn’t give up. Be happy with this win. But we have to increase our focus next week.”
Bauer agreed. “We had four chances to score and we didn’t do it. We made a lot of mistakes early.”
The Bulldogs (1-0) will take on Class C foe Liberty this Saturday at 1:30 p.m. in Liberty.