CHITTENANGO -- Chenango Forks'
nothing-happening offense turned a blunder into
the difference-making points Friday night for a
you've-gotta-be-kidding 7-3 non-conference
football victory over Chittenango.
Man of the Hour Ryan Freije scooped up a
teammate's fumble on a second-down play from
Chittenango's 30-yard line and somehow, some
way, emerged from a scrum near the hosts'
sideline and carried the football across the
goal line with five minutes to play in a
ballgame ruled by the defenses.
Following the touchdown, Forks forced
Chittenango into its fourth three-and-out
possession of the night, only to give back the
football on a fumble near midfield with 1:47
The Bears reached Forks' 13-yard line on two
pass completions before Mike Jeske clinched his
team's third consecutive victory by intercepting
Jon Stevens' 18th and final pass in the end zone
with 64 seconds to play.
D.J. Smith and Tim Zdimal also intercepted
passes, and Forks teammate Jesse Vilella was a
Chittenango nemesis all over the field from
opening kick to final whistle from his end
"The positive thing is, we're
still coming out with the win," Blue Devils
coach David Hogan said. "We're 3-0, so we're
very happy about that."
They are 3-0 because of Grade-A
defense, and thanks to one bit of highly
unlikely good fortune.
The play call on second-and-4
from the Bears' 30-yard line was mid-line option
right. Quarterback Smith accepted the snap and
... well ... let the central figures take it
Smith: "Me and my fullback
weren't really in sync, I was trying to pull
(the football) and he was trying to take. The
ball ended up on the ground. I went back to get
it and I saw Freije pick it up and run with it."
Freije: "On that play, I'm
supposed to come in motion, as a pitch man or a
safety valve, the ball came out. I picked it up
and saw the opening. I broke a couple tackles,
but it was the blocks that got me there."
Smith: "He got hit right next to
the sideline. ... Two guys hit him and ... I
don't know what he did; I thought he was done
Instead, after it appeared
Freije's momentum had been halted ... "I saw him
stumble, and I saw everybody stop, and then I
saw this white shirt just continue down the
sideline," Hogan said of what he saw transpire
clear across the field. "I said, 'Oh my gosh,
he's not down yet.'
"Hey, however we can score."
That break of a TD erased a
deficit created when Chittenango's Zach Drake
converted a 34-yard field goal 3:37 into the
third quarter after Blue Devils punter Dan Grady
was hung out to dry and harried into a
minus-1-yard punt that set up the Bears at
Forks' 19-yard line.
The Blue Devils' next three
possessions ended in punts, last of which gave
Chittenango the football at its 20 with 7:26
remaining. And, as it had the night long, the
Devils' defense responded in fine form.
On second down, Baron sacked
Stevens for a 2-yard loss. On third down, Jordan
Barnett lunged to bat the ball away from
Stevens' intended target, forcing a punt from
the 27-yard line. The Bears' Nick Boysen was
rushed into a hurried, rugby-style punt that
went for just 17 yards.
That left Forks in possession at
the hosts' 37, and two plays from its winning
In the first half, Forks ran 23
plays in Bears territory, only to come away
frustrated and empty. The Devils' deepest
penetration of the half went to Chittenango's
The Devils' best scoring
opportunity went by the boards when Grady
misfired left on a 34-yard field goal try 1:06
"Offensively, we're not clicking
yet, but we'll definitely get better," Freije
But, as it had the first two
weekends of the season, the Devils' defense held
up its end.
One of Vilella's most visible
contributions was recovery of a fumble and
ensuing advancement to Chittenango's 25-yard
line with time wasting in the first half. The
offense netted 2 yards on three plays and, after
the Bears jumped offside, Grady's field goal
attempt was off the mark.
That Chittenango was limited to
the field goal in the third quarter was due in
part to Grady and Andy Lewis teaming on a
quarterback sack on first down of that
possession, and Grady's tip of Stevens' pass at
the line on third down.
The final stats indeed suggest a
night of defensive football: Forks closed with
155 yards of offense, Chittenango with 89. Bears
quarterback Stevens was 7-for-18 with the three
"Our defense was very, very
strong," Smith said. "What'd they get, only one
series in the red zone?"