TOWN OF CHENANGO --
Brendan Pidgeon rushed for 146 yards and
two touchdowns Saturday as Oneonta dealt
Chenango Forks its second regular-season
loss since the start of the 2001 season,
Pidgeon's second TD came
from 2 yards out with 1:51 to play in
the third quarter and put the
Yellowjackets on top by 18-7.
Forks answered with 8:01
remaining in the ballgame on D.J.
Smith's 16-yard scoring rush and Shane
Baron's two-point conversion run. But
one first down apiece on the Blue
Devils' final two possessions -- both
starting in their own territory --
wasn't enough to pull this one out.
The outcome in this, the
Division III opener for both, left Forks
a 3-1 record to Oneonta's 2-2.
"You see Forks every
year, pounding on everybody. And you
think, wow, what if some year we could
come out and shock Section 4 and get the
win," said Pidgeon, a 6-foot-2,
205-pound senior. " ... I don't know
what to say."
'Jackets coach Adam
Hoover said, "It's huge, you can't even
express how big of a win it is. Any time
you beat Forks, it's a great win. ... If
we keep improving, this can be the
turning point not only for our season,
but maybe for the whole program."
Forks held the lead for a
mere 3:05 all day, beginning after
quarterback Rickey Bronson utilized
Kevin Hamilton's downfield block to
complete a 27-yard touchdown rush on the
opening play of the second quarter. Dan
Grady's PAT kick made it 7-6.
That completed a 10-play,
69-yard march that was much-needed by a
Forks squad averaging nine points per
contest coming in.
The Devils' defense held
after the score, forcing Oneonta
three-and-out and taking over after a
punt at the home 47-yard line. But three
plays into the series, Oneonta's Matt
Marcewicz intercepted a pass by Bronson
near midfield and returned up the
Devils' sideline for a touchdown and
12-7 lead with 8:46 left in the half.
Forks' Ryan Freije picked
off an Oneonta pass and returned to the
Yellowjackets' 33-yard line with 3:45 to
play in the half. Five plays --
including a 12-yard completion from D.J.
Smith to Hamilton -- advanced the ball
to the 19-yard line.
However, on a third-and-9
play, Oneonta's Pat Jeffries sacked
Smith for a 12-yard loss, and Smith was
unable to connect with Mike Jeske on a
fourth-and-21 throw down the sideline.
third-quarter possession began --
following a 7-yard punt -- at Forks'
37-yard line. Pidgeon's 15-yard gain on
first down was the first of his six
carries on a seven-play drive, and the
last went for a 2-yard TD over the right
side that made for an 18-7 ballgame with
1:51 to play in the third quarter.
"We knew he was a stud,"
Forks coach David Hogan said of Pidgeon.
"He played very well. Strong, fast, I'd
say he's the total package. He's a very
good player, both sides of the ball."
The Blue Devils began to
show some offensive vigor on their
opening possession of the fourth
quarter. On second down from the hosts'
33-yard line, Tim Zdimal made the first
of his two huge fourth-quarter
receptions, rising to snatch a ball over
a defender and complete a 27-yard gain
to Oneonta's 40.
Smith proceeded to pick
up 14 yards on two rushes, hit Jeske for
a 10-yard gain, and then sprint in from
16 yards out after nicely selling a fake
to his fullback. Baron plowed through
the middle for the two-pointer and it
was 18-15 with 8:01 remaining.
"After they scored, I
brought the players over and said, 'We
didn't play this hard, we didn't
practice this hard all week to give in
right now. Dig deep, take care of your
responsibilities, play football and we
can win this game,' " Hoover said.
With a re-energized
cheering section lending support, Forks
got the stop it needed.
Jordan Barnett and Nolan
Haycook made the first-down tackle,
Freije did the honors on second down,
and Smith and Barnett felled Pidgeon
after a 2-yard gain to force a punt that
rolled dead at the Devils' 38-yard line
with 6:01 to play.
The drive reached
Oneonta's 44-yard line before ending
with back-to-back incompletions.
Forks forced one final
three-and-out and took possession, with
aid of a facemask penalty on the punt
return, at its 43-yard line with 91
seconds to play.
Zdimal made a 31-yard
first-down reception of Smith's pass to
advance to Oneonta's 26, but on second
down Smith was sacked by Ian Kelley for
a 7-yard loss. Smith erred by grounding
the football on second-and-17, and two
subsequent incomplete passes left
Oneonta QB Dan Broe to twice drop to one
"I never felt that we
couldn't win the game until the last
series," Hogan said. "Maybe it's because
we've been through it so many times. But
we couldn't get it done this time.
He added, "We knew they
were a solid team and they are, they're
a quality team. We made some mistakes,
but you could argue that some of the
times, they forced them."
Ahead for Chenango Forks
-- which limited Oneonta to seven first
downs, three after halftime -- is a
Friday night trip to Norwich to take on
the unbeaten Purple Tornado.