FOOTBALL: QUICK-STRIKE SPARTANS DOMINATE INDIAN RIVER IN STATE QUARTERFINAL
By ROB CENTORANI
Broome County Sports Report
VESTAL -- It's impressive enough that Maine-Endwell had four touchdown plays of 33 yards or longer Saturday.
What's more impressive is that they came four separate players and it's possible all of those guys were faster than anyone on Indian River's roster.
"We have so many kids who can put the ball in space and make huge plays for us," said junior Vinny Mancini, who scored twice in the Spartans' 41-14 victory over the Warriors in a Class B state quarterfinal at Vestal's Dick Hoover Stadium.
On a cool and breezy day, the Spartans built a 20-point halftime lead and turned that into a 41-point cushion one play into the fourth quarter. At that point, M-E's starters gave way to younger teammates to close this one out.
M-E (11-0) will play Section 5's Monroe (11-0) at 3 p.m. Saturday in a state semifinal at Cicero-North Syracuse. Monroe advanced with a 14-6 victory over Section 6's Health Science.
The Spartans will take a 33-game winning streak into that one, the most recent showcasing a mix of speed and brawn.
Early on, two defensive plays by Mancini provided an indication that Indian River wasn't going to have much of a chance. The first came on the second play from scrimmage, when the Warriors' Derek Jones tried to get outside on a run to the right.
Mancini read it perfectly and dropped Jones for a 5-yard loss.
On Indian River's third possession, Zane Lynch tried the right edge and again Mancini was there for the tackle, this one resulting in a 7-yard loss.
The Warriors' offense, it it's to be successful, cannot afford negative plays, so not only did Mancini's stops force Indian River into punt formation, they signaled to the Warriors they didn't have the speed to attack M-E's flanks.
"Everyone is so used to Vinny doing great things on offense, but he played an amazing game," M-E coach Matt Gallagher said. "Honestly, the whole defense did, but a couple of those kind of plays stood out, setting the edge and keeping those guys from getting upfield was huge."
As for M-E's quick strikes, the first occurred on its second offensive play.
Quarterback Austyn Nyschot faked a give to Jaden Branch inside, found a big crease on the left side and raced 33 yards for the opening touchdown. Jack Hennessey's extra point made it 7-0, two-minutes and 24 seconds into play.
The Spartans then put together a 10-play, 74-yard drive that included a 27-yarder by Branch up the middle on fourth-and-2 that put M-E at Indian River's 7.
That set up what might have been M-E's most improbable touchdown of the day. On second-and-goal, Nyschot rolled left and met resistance almost immediately. He then spun and backtracked before looking right and from about 20, he fired a pass that traveled about 30 yards to Mancini, who was near the right sideline. Mancini caught it at the 16 and sped down the sideline to make it 13-0 with 11:05 left in the second quarter.
It became 20-0 when Branch exploited a massive hole in the middle on a quick-hitter, veered to his right briefly before changing fields on a 57-yard scoring run.
"Everyone gets equal carries, everyone gets equal touchdowns, it's like no one knows who is going to get the ball every play," Mancini said of the Spartans' varied offensive options.
And that 31 flavors style continued in the third quarter, when Nyschot hooked up with Mancini and Hennessey for touchdowns.
The first came on a first-and-25 from M-E's 35. Mancini ran a deep crossing route and caught Nyschot's pinpoint throw in stride on the left side about 35 yards downfield and continued into the end zone.
Hennessey ran a hitch from the right side, briefly bobbled Nyschot's delivery and then showed considerable speed down the sideline en route to a 60-yard TD. Hennessey tacked on the extra point and M-E led, 34-0, with 6:01 left in the third quarter.
"We have total confidence in all of our guys," Gallagher said. "It's kind of nice when you're calling plays and you know no matter who gets the ball, he's going to take it up field."
As dynamic as M-E's offense was after halftime, its defense was even better.
Indian River started its first drive of the second half from 20 (thanks to one of many booming kickoffs by Hennessey). On first down, Tanner Burlingame dropped Jones for no gain. On second down, TJ Serkis tackled Jones for no gain. On third down, the Warriors tried a double-handoff and when Lynch received the ball he was staring at an M-E team photo.
The Warriors (9-3) started their second possession on their 35. Serkis dropped Jones for no gain on the first two plays and Cooper Klinger dropped Lynch for a 7-yard loss on third down.
To recap, on Indian River's first two possessions of the second half, it ran six plays and lost 7 yards.
"Our defense played amazing today," said Gallagher, whose team struggled to stop Corning in a 43-42 victory early in the season, but handled Indian River's similar double-wing formation infinitely better.
Tyler Mathews' 17-yard scoring run on the first play of the fourth quarter capped the scoring for the Spartans, who are in search of a third straight Class B state title.
Maine-Endwell 41, Indian River 14
CLASS B STATE QUARTERFINAL
at Vestal's Dick Hoover Stadium
Indian River ..... 0 0 0 14 -- 14
Maine-Endwell .... 7 13 14 7 -- 41
M-E -- Austyn Nyschot 33 run (Jack Hennessey kick), 9:36
M-E -- Vinny Mancini 7 pass from Austyn Nyschot (run failed), 11:05
M-E -- Jaden Branch 57 run (Jack Hennessey kick), 8:56
M-E -- Vinny Mancini 65 pass from Austyn Nyschot (Jack Hennessey kick), 8:45
M-E -- Jack Hennessey 60 pass from Austyn Nyschot (Jack Hennessey kick), 6:01
M-E -- Tyler Mathews 17 run (Jack Hennessey kick), 11:53
IR -- Derek Jones 1 run (Kane Lynch pass from Riley Alexander), 8:06
IR -- Derek Jones 6 run (run failed), 1:49
Indian River rushing: Azhari Berroa-Presna 2-6, Derek Jones 11-55, Trevor Shawcross 1-17, Kane Lynch 17-75, Ethan Hattori 5-10, Frederick Haynes Jr. 3-11, Riley Anderson 1-9.
Maine-Endwell rushing: Vinny Mancini 5-27, Austyn Nyschot 3-46, Jaden Branch 14-132, Landon Rollo 8-41, Cade Raleigh 2-6, Tyler Mathews 1-17, Messiah White 2-(-2), Preston Ocker 5-18, Aiden Brennan 1-5, Kazio Jellick 1-2.
Indian River passing: Riley Alexander 0-for-4.
Maine-Endwell passing: Austyn Nyschot 4-for-6, 152 yards.
Indian River receiving: None.
Maine-Endwell receiving: Vinny Mancini 3-92, Jack Hennessey 1-60.
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