Nicholson sparks Forks' comeback
TDs on kickoff return, run lift Blue Devils
By Kevin Stevens
Binghamton Press & Sun-Bulletin
WINDSOR -- Call it a forgettable first half
of football for Jim Nicholson, with 14 rushing yards and a
frustrating drop of a might-have-been touchdown reception in
the final minute of play.
Thereafter, Nicholson atoned -- in
He put Chenango Forks' first and last
touchdowns on the board, made a huge reception to set up the
other, and the Blue Devils came from behind for a
rain-soaked 21-14 victory Saturday at Windsor.
Nicholson sprinted 95 yards for a score on
the second half's opening kickoff to put a spark under a
squad in need of just that. Then, with 3:59 remaining in the
contest, he carried 9 yards for a tie-breaking touchdown to
help Forks (6-0) extend the state's longest active win
streak to a 32nd game.
The outcome put a damper on an exceptional
team-wide effort by Windsor (4-2), which held a 7-0 halftime
lead and pulled even at 14-14 early in the fourth quarter.
"We went into the week saying this was the
best team we'd played so far -- and I'm not saying any
different at the end of the week," Forks coach Kelsey Green
said. "That's the best team we've played this year."
The momentum-changer for the Blue Devils was
Nicholson's kick return, which he took up the middle of the
field with ample path-paving from his mates. The first of
Dylan Warner's 3-for-3 showing on PAT kicks tied the game
"I called it in the locker room. I said,
"Guys, I'm returning this. Do whatever you've got to do,' "
said Nicholson, a 178-pound senior.
"And we want him to have the ball," Green
Forks' defense, hit up for a good bit of
rushing damage in the first half, permitted Windsor a
35-yard total on its next two possessions, and the Blue
Devils took the football following a punt at their 39-yard
Nicholson, who'd dropped a long pass from
Rick Mirabito that appeared would be good for a 58-yard
second-quarter TD, made up for his miscue on the next play.
He ran under and caught another bull's-eye delivery from
Mirabito for a 35-yard gain to Windsor's 26.
Six plays later, Mirabito -- after patiently
surveying the picture while rolling right toward Forks'
sideline -- fired a 15-yard scoring pass to Jarred Wells
from perhaps an arm's length from the sideline. Warner's PAT
made it 14-7 with 14 seconds to play in the third quarter.
But Windsor answered by moving 66 yards in
six plays, with Bryant Parker running through a couple of
tackle attempts to complete an impressive 37-yard TD rush.
Blincoe's second sky-high PAT kick tied the game at 14-14
with 9:29 to play.
"That kick return got everything started. But
then, our line play stepped up in the second half," Mirabito
said. "They kind of took over. In the first half, we were
getting knocked off the ball. Second half, we kind of put it
The Black Knights' 89 first-half rushing
yards included 59 on their opening
possession, which closed with Cody Whitman carrying in from
the 5-yard line 4:41 into the game. The Knights recovered a
Forks fumble three plays later, but on first down, Mirabito
made an exquisite interception of a pass from Adam Good at
the Blue Devils' 2-yard line. Mirabito snatched the ball
while leaning out of bounds, yet somehow kept both feet in
the field of play.
Green said of Windsor's running game,
"They're good up front, they executed their trap and their
counters. They've got some size and they're well-coached.
We'd been watching them all year and they're getting better
and better and better with each week."
Windsor coach Dan Hodack said, "We have a
nice balance there between our line and our running backs,
and the two backs blocking for one another. We have run the
ball pretty effectively all year and we expected to come in
and give it a shot and mix in the pass."
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