Chenango Forks finds second gear to pull away from Walton
Binghamton Press & Sun-Bulletin
WALTON -- Jimmy Miller's 53-yard scoring rush set in motion a dominant second quarter of football by Chenango Forks in a come-from-behind 27-6 victory Saturday over Walton.
The Warriors' command of the opening period -- a 6-0
lead and possession for all but three minutes -- seemed a faded memory
after a second quarter in which Forks whipped up 20 points and permitted
a single first down.
In customary Forks fashion, four players scored a
touchdown apiece on the way to a fourth consecutive win and 3-0 record
within Division V, and the guests demonstrated perfectly Devil-ish
defense the final 36 minutes.
Label it a major success for Forks in a collision of
Section 4's two preeminent football programs this decade.
"I'm not sure it surprised any of us, including our
kids," Forks coach David Hogan said of the early deficit.
Nonetheless, this was a squad that boarded a Delaware
County-bound bus averaging 35 points per game, and which had allowed its
first three opponents an aggregate three points.
"We told them all week, we know they're coming to play
and we know they're a very good club," Hogan said. "We didn't panic, and
I thought our kids did a very good job of staying positive and answering
with that long TD run by Jimmy."
Walton fullback Evan Boyd crashed over from the 1-yard
line on first quarter's final play from scrimmage, but quarterback Dan
Gehl's attempt at a two-point chaser was denied when Miller chased him
down and made the tackle.
Forks' Ryan Lusht regrouped from an initial bobble
after fielding the ensuing kickoff and returned 39 yards to the Devils'
42. Then, on third-and-5, Miller took a toss, turned upfield near the
home sideline, and wasn't to be caught. His 53-yard TD made it 6-6 -- a
tie preserved when Boyd soared to block Dan Grady's PAT attempt.
"At first, it took a while to get going, but Jim
Miller busted one around the end. That was when we first started
actually getting them," said Blue Devils center Jake DuBois. Walton took
possession at its 19-yard line and advanced to the 35 before, on
fourth-and-5 and with Devils defenders charging, Kyle Baxley's punt
caromed off the back of a teammate and Forks recovered a free ball at
A methodical eight-play succession followed, with
fullback Jordan Barnett cashing in from a yard out for a lead that grew
to 14-6 when Rickey Bronson hit Derek Foster with a two-point pass --
the flea-flicker delight coming after a 5-yard whack for illegal
"It took me three times (from the 6-yard line), but I
wasn't taking no for an answer," Barnett said.
The Warriors (2-2, 1-1), in need of a dose of positive
in a jiffy, were held to 4 yards in three plays and punted from their
12. That set up Forks 46 yards from points that Walton could ill-afford
Rushes of 8 and 23 yards in either direction by
quarterback D.J. Smith brought the ball to the 11-yard line. Three plays
later, Smith faked a handoff to the first back through and dealt a soft
pass to his right that Mike Szymkowicz received under too-little duress
for a 7-yard TD 33 seconds before halftime.
Second-quarter tally: Forks 135 yards, Walton 27.
"You know where they are, you know what they're going
to do, it's a matter of blocking them," Walton coach Jim Hoover said of
the Devils' defense. "Their big tackle (Andy Lewis), we couldn't move at
all. He was just taking care of our people."
The Warriors' offense located the ignition switch
early in the third quarter, advancing 49 yards to Forks' 35 -- only to
see the possession squelched by a penalty and back-to-back-to-back
passes that fell incomplete.
That left Forks to go the 60 yards in 13 plays, a
4-yard rush by Ryan Lusht 1:48 into the final quarter along with Grady's
PAT making it 27-6. Another flea-flicker --_ snap to Smith, handoff to
Miller, toss back to Smith and 30-yard pass to Foster -- pulled Forks
from a third-and-12 dilemma four plays into the drive.
"The game plan was to come out and just stay on our
blocks. Just keep running consistent plays, and if they didn't work we'd
switch them up," Barnett said. "We told each other, we need to stay on
our blocks, follow our blocks and make those first downs."
Walton falls back
By P.J. Harmer
Oneonta Daily Star
WALTON _ This one had the ingredients of an old-school football classic.
Unfortunately for Walton, Chenango Forks put on a clinic.
The former Susquenango Association rivals met Saturday at Jim Hoover
Field with the driver's seat in the loaded Section Four Football
Conference Division V race on the line.
Despite scoring the first points, Walton couldn't stave off Chenango
Forks' balanced and speedy offense as the Blue Devils used a dominating
second quarter to earn a 27-6 victory on a cool autumn afternoon.
"It was a little wake-up call," Chenango Forks' running back Jesse
Barnett said of the early deficit. "We're not used to that. We're used
to running the ball down the field consistently. But this was a little
wake-up call for us to step up and come together and we really needed
By no means, however, is the playoff chase over for Walton.
Chenango Forks (4-0, 3-0), the state's second-ranked Class C team, and
Greene (4-0, 3-0) are tied atop Division V and play each other Oct. 17
at Forks. Walton (2-2, 1-1) and Whitney Point (3-1, 1-1) are tied for
second in the seven-team division. They'll meet Oct. 10 at Whitney
The Warriors, ranked 19th in Class C, host Greene at 1:30 p.m. this
Saturday as well. The top two Division V teams will advance to the
Section Four Class C playoffs.
"We're still in the playoff run," said Walton coach Jim Hoover, whose
team won the past two Section Four Class D titles before moving back to
Class C this year. "We have to beat Greene next weekend. If we don't
beat Greene, we're out of it. It's a matter now that every game is like
a bowl game to us.
"We have to run the table," continued Hoover, whose program also capped
a 13-0 season in 2007 with the Class D state championship. "It doesn't
get easier. We have Greene and a pretty good Whitney Point team. We knew
that coming in that it was a hell of a schedule and we're just not
responding to it very well."
Walton has lost two straight, starting with a 14-12 loss at rival Delhi
on Sept. 19. The Warriors haven't lost three in a row since 2005, when a
string of setbacks to Delhi, Oxford and Greene knocked them out of the
playoffs in their first season in Class D.
"We need to work hard and start buckling down," Walton's Bryant Mead
said. "We need to get a little stronger and get a little football-crazy
Evan Boyd closed the first quarter with a hard-fought, 1-yard run that
marked the first touchdown against Chenango Forks this season.
Boyd's scoring run capped a nine-play drive that took 4 minutes, 5
seconds. Dan Gehl's conversion run came up short, but Walton led, 6-0,
as the Blue Devils trailed for the first time this season.
"After that first touchdown, we were down and we're not used to that,"
said Barnett, who finished with 38 yards on 13 carries. "We knew we
needed to come together and work as a team just to make the big hits."
On the third play of the second quarter, Jimmy Miller went to his right
on a sweep, reached the Walton sideline and broke away from the pack for
a 53-yard touchdown run. Boyd blocked Dan Grady's extra-point attempt to
keep the score tied at 6.
"It started off great and it kind of went downhill from there," Mead
said. "Momentum started dropping."
On their next possession, the Warriors were forced to punt on a
fourth-and-5 from their 35. Punter Kyle Baxley scooped a low snap and
his kick went off the back of Dan Gehl, who was blocking. The ball shot
straight up and was swatted down by a Chenango Forks' player, leading to
Ryan Lusht's recovery at Walton's 31.
Eight plays later, Barnett rumbled in from the 1 to give the Blue Devils
the lead for good. Barnett rushed the ball three straight times,
starting at the 6. Derek Foster caught the conversion pass from Rickey
Bronson, who played sparingly at quarterback, to make it 14-6 with 4:47
to play in the second quarter.
"We thought we had the momentum and they got that one long run and the
blocked punt, and next thing we know, they had momentum and they ran
with it," Boyd said. "They took advantage of what we gave them and they
Chenango Forks then forced a three-and-out and, after another punt, took
over at Walton's 46 with 2:56 to go in the opening half.
On the sixth play of the ensuing drive, CF quarterback DJ Smith found
Mike Szymkowicz open in the right corner of the end zone for a 7-yard TD
with 33 seconds left for a 20-6 lead. Jimmy MacDonald knocked away the
"You can't go for the gusto too often because you know what could happen
when you do that _ bad things could happen," Chenango Forks coach Dave
Hogan said. "Patient is a good word to describe (us) and I think that's
what we were today."
The Blue Devils lopped 5:42 off the clock with a 12-play scoring drive
that bridged the third and fourth quarters. Lusht scored on a 4-yard run
and Grady kicked the extra point to make it 27-6.
"It was tough," Mead said. "Everything is tough when you get beat. They
are a good football team. They knew what they were doing, they read
their keys well and they pursued and did everything we didn't."
Boyd led Walton with 44 yards on 11 carries. The Warriors were held to
149 yards rushing _ 9 more than their season-low against Delhi a week
"A lot of it has to do with Forks' defense," Hoover said. "We're
disappointed. We have some real good backs and we can't even make it to
the line of scrimmage. Believe me, I'm not putting the blame on our
offensive line. ... We're making a lot of mistakes that Walton football
teams usually don't make. We just have to keep working."