By TIM BIRNEY
Valley Sports Report
TIOGA CENTER — For the first 19 minutes of the game, Newark Valley was controlling the ball, and keeping Tioga’s high-powered offense off the field, but a key defensive stop inside the 5, turned the momentum, and the Tigers rolled to a 46-15 win in Section IV, Division VI football action here Friday night at Haggerty Field.
Tioga coach Nick Aiello recorded his 100th coaching victory in 11-plus season last weekend, but his Tigers have lost five of their last six meetings against the Cardinals.
“This is a good win for our program,” he said. “I have nothing but respect for (the Newark Valley coaching staff). They’ve had our number, but there’s a reason. They do things right.
“When you beat a team like that, it’s a good win.
“When they beat us (in the spring), I felt like they wore us down,” said Aiello. “They got their seniors to play a little bit better than we did.
“For our guys coming back, that was on their minds. We heard them talking about it over the summer, and talking about it in the preseason,” added Aiello. “This was a big game for this team, and to come out with the victory, I’m very proud of them.”
Despite executing its game plan, the Cardinals trailed 7-0. After stopping Newark Valley on fourth-and-1 at the Tioga 3, the Tigers drove 97 yards to paydirt — the first of six straight possessions that would end with TDs.
“It was such a huge momentum swing,” said Aiello. “If they score there it’s 7-7 and a totally different ball game at the half.
“Hats off to our guys to get that stop,” added Aiello. “It’s the second game in a row we’ve gotten a big stop inside the 10-yard line … to carry that momentum into the half is huge.”
The Tigers amassed 538 yards in total offense, including 529 rushing yards.
Senior Emmett Wood led the way, running for 299 yards and five TDs on 18 carries. He now 6,144 rushing yard and 84 TDs in his career.
“Emmett (Wood) played like a man possessed tonight,” said Aiello. “I think he’s getting in shape … he’s obviously running the ball very hard.
“You’re starting to see a guy who’s toted the ball quite a bit for us since his freshman year,” noted Aiello. “You’re starting to see all the little things come out.
“I’m proud of him, he’s being a great leader for us,” added Aiello. “And, I think he’s bringing out the best in the guys around him.”
Senior Gavin Godfrey added 94 yards on eight carries for the Tigers, while sophomore Osumane Duncanson added 81 yards and one TD on just two carries, and sophomore Drew Macumber chipped in with 47 yards and one TD on six carries.
The Cardinals, ranked 14th in the state in Class D, did everything it wanted to do except put the ball in the end zone in the first 19 minutes of the game, running 29 offensive plays to Tioga’s 10, and building a time-of-possession advantage of 14:37 to 4:18, but trailed 7-0.
“We had a game plan,” said Newark Valley coach Ed Mertson. “We wanted to keep the ball on the ground, keep the clock running, and keep the ball moving.
“We know they’re an explosive team, and have some real big weapons … we wanted to keep the ball away from them.
“We thought if we kept control of the ball, and kept moving it, we could make this a nice ground-it-out, old-fashion Tioga County battle,” added Mertson.
Newark Valley mishandled the opening kickoff, and started its initial possession on its own 12.
The Cardinals picked up a pair of first downs on runs by Landon Spoonhower, but were forced to punt.
Tioga, the state’s top-ranked team in Class D, took over at its own 22, and quickly took the lead. After a 9-yard run, Wood broke through line, and sprinted 69 yards to paydirt. Gavin Fisher’s PAT kick made it 7-0 with 7:35 remaining in the first quarter.
Newark Valley’s next possession ended on down on Tioga’s 22. The 11-play possession, which featured a 17-yard pass from Mikey Wandell to Spoonhower, took more than four minutes off the clock.
Tioga picked up a pair of first downs, but on fourth-and-1 at the Cardinal 45, Wood was stopped short by Wandell, and Newark Valley took over on downs.
The Cardinals used a 12-play drive to move the ball deep into Tioga territory, but on fourth-and-1 at the Tioga 3, the Tiger defense came up with a big stop.
The remainder of the game was all Tioga.
Tioga took over at its own 3 following the fourth-down stop, and drove 97 yards on 10 plays. Wood, who had seven carries for 50 yards in the drive, capped the possession with a 1-yard TD run with 40.6 seconds remaining in the half to make it 13-0. Godfrey had runs of 17 and 23 yards on the drive.
Tioga opened the second half with a three-play, 65-yard drive to make it 19-0. Godfrey opened the possession with a 36-yard run, and Wood capped it with a 32-yard TD run with 10:29 left in the third quarter.
The Cardinals again moved the ball deep into Tioga territory, turning the ball over on downs at the Tiger 20.
On the first play, Wood ripped off an 80-yard TD run FIsher’s PAT kick made it 26-0 with 4:38 left in the third quarter.
“We talked about some things at halftime,” said Aiello. “The first couple plays we ran were things we talked about at halftime, and they went big for us.
“Again, It’s the second week in a row we’ve talked about a play, and come out and run it for a touchdown,” added Aiello. “It’s nice to have guys who are listening, and able to execute what we’re talking about.”
Moments later, Max Flesher returned the ensuing kickoff 90 yards for a score to put the Cardinals on the board. Wandell’s PAT kick cut the deficit to 26-7.
The Tigers recovered the ensuing onside kickoff, and quickly answered Newark Valley’s score with one of their own — driving 55 yards on eight plays, capped by a 17-yard TD run by Wood to make it 33-7 with 3.7 seconds remaining in the third quarter.
Newark Valley’s next possession ended when Tioga’s Drew Macumber picked off a Wandell pass at the Tiger 32.
On Tioga’s first play, Duncanson broke free on a counter trap for a 68-yard TD run to make it 39-7 with 9:50 remaining in the game.
Newark Valley finished off a drive on its next possession when Luke Rinkavaage scored on a 5-yard run with 4:50 remaining to cap a 13-play, 75-yard drive. Wandell’s run on the conversion trimmed the deficit to 37-15.
Tioga tacked on a TD on a 9-yard run by Macumber with 1:00 remaining.
The Cardinals ran for 205 yards in the game on 49 carries. Wandell led NV with 78 yards on 20 carries, while Spoonhower had 60 yards on nine carries, Max Flesher added 34 yards on 11 carries, and Rinkavage chipped in with 25 yards and one TD on six carries.
Wandell completed 6 of 19 passes for 90 yards, and was intercepted once. Spoonhower led the Cardinals with four receptions for 73 yards and Joe Sherwood added two grabs for 17 yards.
Tioga, 5-0, hosts state-ranked Harpursville-Afton (5-0) Friday night for Homecoming, while Newark Valley, now 3-2, returns to action next Saturday at Delhi.
IN PHOTO 1: Tioga's Gavin Godfrey. … PHOTOS BY TIM BIRNEY.