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SECTION IV FOOTBALL: TIOGA ROLLS TO SEASON-OPENING, 56-3, WIN OVER SIDNEY (24 PHOTOS) (2021-09-10)

BY TIM BIRNEY
Valley Sports Report
SIDNEY — Tioga ran just 33 offensive plays, but had five different ball carriers score TDs in a 56-3 season-opening rout of Sidney here Friday night in Section IV, Division VI (Class D) football action.

“It was the culmination of a really good offseason and preseason. Our goal for last three weeks was to make the long road trip here and go 1-0,” said Tioga coach Nick Aiello.

“We are firing on a lot of good cylinders right now. I’m very proud of these guys.

“This is a great group, we were carrying 19 guys for varsity tonight … we were able to get all of them some good time tonight,” he added.

Sidney took the opening kickoff and marched into the Tioga red zone, but the Tiger defense stiffened at its 5-yard line and forced a field goal attempt. Alec Fogarty split the uprights on a 22-yard field goal to give the Warriors a 3-0 lead.

The rest of the game was all Tigers as they scored on every possession of the game (aside from taking a knee to end the half and end the game), while holding Sidney without another first down until the third quarter, and just two more the entire game.

Senior tailback Emmett Wood logged just four carries in the game, but ran for 102 yards and three TDs, while senior fullback Gavin Godfrey ran for 91 yards and two TDs on just six carries, sophomore Drew Macumber rushed for 72 yards on six carries, and sophomore QB Caden Bellis added 42 yards and a TD on four carries.

In all, Tioga ran for 325 yards on just 27 carries, while Sidney rushed for 64 yards on 28 carries — a mark skewed by a 44-yard scamper by Fogarty in the third quarter.

Aiello was pleased with his team’s performance on the defensive side of the ball.

“We were able to get a lot of hats to the ball tonight. That’s been our push to these guys this preseason.

“We have some depth, and we were able to work some guys in that we’re comfortable with,” said Aiello. “If you’re out there, we expect you to be fresh and flying to the ball. It looks like we got that tonight.”

Bellis also completed 5 of his 6 passes for 121 yards and one TD.

“For a sophomore to be able to run the option, as well as throw the ball here and there, and progress through reads, it was impressive,” said Aiello. “It was his first varsity game, and it was a good game for him.

“He’s only going to get better,” added Aiello.

Sophomore Evan Sickler had one grab for 58 yards, while sophomore Valentino Rossi had one catch for 35 yards, senior Cobe Whitmore had two receptions for 19 yards, and sophomore Ousmane Duncanson had one catch for nine yards and one TD.

Aiello was also pleased with his team’s play on offense.

“It’s a conversation we’ve had, and we’ll probably have again — there’s only one football.

“We have a lot of guys who deserve to get touches, and a lot of guys who can do some things when they have the ball in their hands,” said Aiello. “The more diverse we can … whether the ball is in the air, or on the ground doesn’t matter to me as long as we’re moving the chains.

Aiello also pointed out the play of a trio of two-way senior linemen in Chris Walsh, Josh Snell, and Matt Watson.

“Three of our linemen are seniors … two of them have been playing since they were sophomores, and the other guy played all six games in the spring,” said Aiello. “They are determined to be leaders on both sides of the ball, leaders for the young guys we’re trying to mold.”

He also pointed out the play of Duncanson, who made several tackles in the backfield. Aiello projected Duncanson as a defensive back early in the preseason, but he is now playing inside linebacker.

“Sometimes a kid just has a knack for a position, with (Duncanson) it didn’t take us too long to figure it out,” he said. “After the first day of hitting, we figured he was more of a middle linebacker for us.

“As a sophomore, it was a great outing for him,” Aiello noted. “I think he’s just going to get better at that position.

“Once he gains that confidence as a middle linebacker where he trusts his read, and he starts flying downhill, that’s when he is really going to be good,” he added.

Trailing 3-0, Tioga took the Sidney kickoff, and quickly marched down field for the go-ahead score.

Wood started the drive off with a 9-yard run, then Godfrey ripped off a 17-yard run to the Sidney 47.

After an incompletion, Bellis picked up 12 yards on a QB keeper, and Godfrey bulled ahead for 11 yards to the Sidney 24.

Two plays later, Wood scampered 25 yards to paydirt with 3:35 remaining in the first quarter. Sophomore Gavin Fisher’s PAT kick made it 7-3.

Two plays after the ensuing kickoff, sophomore Evan Sickler stepped in front of a Fogarty at the Tioga 45 and returns it 19 yards to the Sidney 36.

The Tigers needed just four plays, including an 11-yard run by Bellis and a 15-yard pass from Bellis to senior Cobe Whitmore, to find the end zone. Bellis capped the drive with a 12-yard TD run with 1:19 left in the first quarters. Fisher’s kick made it 14-3.

On third-and-13 following the ensuing kickoff, Watson batted down a Fogarty pass, and the Warriors were forced to punt. Wood fielded the punt and returned it 55 to the Sidney 9.

On Tioga’s first play, Bellis, after a nice play-action fake, found Duncanson open in the end zone to make it 21-3 with 12 ticks left in the first quarter.

Facing 4th-and-15 on its next possession, Sidney punted again. This time, Wood only gained 13 yards on the return to the Sidney 37.

A block-in-the-back call on first down put Tioga in a first-and-25 hole, but Rossi made a leaping catch on a Bellis throw for a 35-yard gain to the Sidney 17. Two plays later, Wood scored on a 6-yard run to make it 28-3 with 9:26 remaining in the first half.

Sidney’s next possession was another three-and-out, and a short punt gave the Tigers the ball at the Warriors’ 46.

On the first play, Godfrey shook off a tackler and rumbled 46 yards for a score to extend the lead to 35-3 with 6:49 remaining in the first half.

Sidney’s next possession ended with a punt after three plays, and Tioga set up shop at its 38.

On the first play, Wood raced 62 yards untouched to paydirt. FIsher’s sixth consecutive PAT kick made it 42-3 with 3:54 left in the half.

Sidney’s ensuing possession was another three-and-out, and Tioga took over following the punt at its 34 with 55 seconds remaining, but Aiello chose to take a knee twice to end the half.

Tioga, which won the opening toss and deferred, took the second-half kickoff and marched 75 yards on four plays to push its lead to 49-3

The key play on the drive was a 58-yard pass from Bellis to Sickler, who was dragged down at the Warrior 9. Two plays later, Godfrey bulled in from the 2.

A 44-yard run by Fogarty moved the ball to the Tioga 24, and Sidney eventually had a first-and-goal just inside the Tiger 10. On fourth-and-goal at the Tioga 6, Watson batted a Fogarty pass into the air, then came up with an interception to end the threat.

Macumber carried the ball six times on Tioga’s next possession and picked up 72 yards, but it was senior Justin Hopkins who capped the scoring with a 1-yard TD run with 4:15 remaining in the game.

The entire second half was played in running time, resulting in just two possessions for the Tigers, before they took a knee with 22 seconds remaining to end the game.

Fogarty led Sidney with 41 yards on 10 carries, and also completed 5 of 11 passes for 21 yards and two interceptions.

Tioga returns to action Friday when it hosts O-M / Watkins Glen, which beat Chenango Valley 35-12 Friday night.

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IN PHOTO 1: Tioga’s Emmett Wood. … PHOTOS BY TIM BIRNEY.

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