Fred Stabbert III | Democrat
With Zach O’Connor holding Mike Sedlack kicks one of his two extra points Saturday night against O’Neill. Those PATs proved to be the difference in the Bulldogs one-point victory.
SW closes deal,
Story by Fred Stabbert III
LAKE HUNTINGTON October 22, 2013 Some timely defensive plays coupled with its second highest offensive output of the season led Sullivan West to a 26-25 homecoming victory over non-league rival James I. O’Neill on Friday night under the lights at Lake Huntington.
The Bulldogs took what looked like an insurmountable 26-19 lead with just 1:24 left in the game but a nifty 65-yard halfback option play by O’Neill’s Malek Chambers on the next play from scrimmage brought his team to within one, 26-25 with just 1:10 on the clock.
O’Neill, which has already clinched a Class C playoff berth, tried for a two-point conversion to win the game in regulation.
But Sullivan West senior linebacker Jake Murphy hit Chambers in the hole and Murphy’s teammates helped wrap him up to stop the run and seal the victory.
Sullivan West (0-2, 2-4) recovered the ensuing onsides kick and the Bulldogs ran out the last minute and ten seconds for a satisfying win over the team which had ended their season in the playoffs last year.
“We played a great game,” an elated Sullivan West head coach Ron Bauer said after the game. “Our defense stepped up and had two great goal line stands. We played well.”
O’Neill, the defending Section IX champions started the season strong at 4-0 but has since lost three games in a row to drop to 4-3.
Sullivan West meanwhile, has been improving of late, losing a battle to Class B powerhouse Highland last weekend before defeating O’Neill.
O’Neill jumped out to a quick lead as Malek Chambers, playing quarterback for the injured Keegan West, had touchdown runs of 6 and 48 yards respectively.
A blocked extra point try on the second touchdown by Andrew Stabbert helped to keep the score 13-0.
It was then Sullivan West’s turn to do a little scoring.
Sullivan West began its 65-yard touchdown drive with a 20-yard run by senior wingback Jared Meola and a 15-yard screen to tailback Stabbert.
Quarterback Richard Shevak then pitched the ball to Meola around the left end and he picked his way 30 yards behind a host of great blocks to put Sullivan West on the board.
Michael Sedlack added the PAT and Sullivan West was in the game 13-7.
A costly offensive interference penalty sent O’Neill from a first down on the 40-yard line all the way back to a third and 20.
An offsides penalty moved the Raiders back to the 13-yard line and a fourth down and 25.
Sullivan West’s defense held and the Bulldogs got the ball back in prime position on the 33-yard line.
Meola again ran the student body left sweep down to the 20-yard line and offensive coordinator Chris Reichmann then called Brian Stauch’s number over the middle and quarterback Richard Shevak hit him in stride down to the two-yard line.
Shevak bulled into the endzone at 3:39 of the second quarter and the game was tied, 13-13.
O’Neill returned the favor by blocking the PAT to preserve the tie going into halftime.
O’Neill came out strong in the third quarter and used a fake punt to pick up a fourth down and four deep in Sullivan West territory.
Chambers then scampered 18 yards to the two-yard line to put the Blazers in prime position.
But a linebacker blitz on the next play hit Chambers, who fumbled, and Sullivan West’s Devin Mirch picked up the ball to save a touchdown.
Sullivan West then went on a 98-yard drive which started with a 23-yard pass over the middle to Stauch.
Shevak hit tight end Zach O’Connor for another nine yards and Shevak kept it up the middle for ten more yards out to the 40-yard line.
Stabbert ripped off 10 yards up the middle before Meola went on another long run inside the ten yard line.
Shevak took over from there and scored his second touchdown of the night to make it 19-13 Sullivan West.
Sedlack added the PAT and it was 20-13.
But O’Neill wouldn’t give up and Chambers burst up the middle on a 35-yard run to make it 20-19.
O’Neill tried for a two-point conversion but defensive end Zach O’Connor hit Chambers for a loss to preserve the lead.
After Sullivan West turned the ball over on downs, O’Neill began a drive but Stauch intercepted the ball and ran it back to the 10 yard line setting up Sullivan West’s final and winning score by Shevak.
The Bulldogs travel to Tri-Valley this Saturday for their last game of the season.