FULL CIRCLE-RFA BLACK KNIGHTS BEAT RIVAL PROCTOR RAIDERS 24-21
DYLAN THOMAS FIELD GOAL WITH 7.9 SECONDS LEFT SEALS THE DEAL
AARON TENNANT-MONSTER ENERGY DRINK PLAYER OF THE GAME
It’s not every day that a person gets a change to come “full circle”. For RFA senior place-kicker Dylan Thomas the circle was completed when his 31 yard field goal attempt, split the rain drops and then, the uprights at RFA stadium, as the Black Knights beat arch-rival, Proctor 24-21, to earn their first win of the season and possibly, save their season.
The Thomas, game winning, kick came at the completion of a 12 play drive, that was set up when the RFA defense forced Proctor to turn the ball over on downs, with 4:57 left in the fourth quarter.
On homecoming night and as part of the “Great American High School Football Rivalry Series,” the two long time protagonists went at it again in front of a packed, rain soaked, house to add another chapter to this storied pigskin rivalry.
The stakes were high, for the host Black Knights, as the festive night was filled with the pomp and circumstance of Homecoming Weekend and a pregame ceremony, attended by several local dignitaries who dedicated the stadium grandstand to Louis H. Van Slyke. The late Van Slyke chaired a committee back in 1951 that laid the groundwork for the efforts to get RFA Stadium built.
The grandstand, now know as “The Louis H. Van Slyke Grandstand” in honor of the late RFA benefactor.
As if the ceremonies and Homecoming floats weren’t enough to build the level of excitement at the stadium, how about the fact that the two teams were getting together to take part in the oldest high school football rivalry in the state and one of the oldest in the nation.
A rivalry that started back in 1891. A rivalry that has been all one sided lately, as Proctor has won 7 of the last 10 meetings and 3 in a row.
Oh, by the way, how about the fact that the Black Knights entered tonight’s game with an (0-3) record, with any hopes of post-season play slipping away. Think this one didn’t matter? Think again.
Back to Dylan Thomas and him coming “full circle”. Think back to last year’s regular season matchup with the Raiders. A game won by Proctor with a score of 24-21.
Think of Dylan walking off the field with shoulders slumped and head hanging down, after he pushed a field goal attempt wide, past the right goal-post at D’Allesandro Stadium in Utica, as the clock wound down.
Imagine how long Dylan has been waiting for this chance. Imagine how he felt when he measured his game winning 31 yard attempt with about 8,000 eyes staring at him in between rain drops. Imagine.
The senior drilled the game winning field goal and jumped for joy as he gave his team the lead, you guessed it 24-21, with just 7.9 seconds left on the fourth quarter clock.
Imagine how Dylan felt when the new scoreboard at the stadium had all zeros on it as the final horn sounded. Imagine. Sometimes in life the ledger gets balanced. For Dylan Thomas tonight was that night.
Oh, by the way, the win also keeps the Black Knights season alive and will make the bus ride to Liverpool next Friday night one the team will look forward to with a renewed sense of purpose.
Coach Ted Swavely could hardly speak he was so excited and proud of his team when this one was done. It was after all, a complete team effort that got the job done against the talented Raiders.
Early on it looked like the home team would cruise to an easy win as they used their ground and pound and pound some more offense to grab a (14-0) lead on a stunned bunch of Raiders.
Proctor’s Nick Wilsey lost control of the ball as he tried to field a Dylan Thomas punt and RFA’s Drew DeBlasiss alertly pounced on the loose pigskin to give his team great field position at the Raider 38 yard line.
A few plays later RFA’s, franchise running back, Rich Stapleton ran one in from 9 yards out to make it (6-0) RFA.
A Thomas PAT made it (7-0) RFA with 7:34 to go in the first quarter. By the way, Stapleton ripped the Raiders for 218 yards on 37, count em, carries and scored two TD’s to carry the offensive load once again for the Knights.
The lead ballooned to (14-0) when Aaron Tennant, the Monster Energy Drink Player of the Game, dove in from the one to cap off another RFA drive.
Tennant was clutch all night long, batting down a sure Proctor TD pass intended for Maurice Mills, in the corner of the RFA endzone, that would have given Proctor an early TD lead, 4:48, to go in the first quarter. His 35 yard pass completion to Zach Barrigar helped keep a key second half drive alive.
Junior, QB, Jordan Treen woke his team up with an electrifying 80 scamper around and through a winded RFA defense that tried, in vain, to slow Treen down. The score pumped the visitors up.
So much, that before you could blink, the Raiders had piled up 21 unanswered points and suddenly the home fans sat in silence as their team trailed (21-14) at the half. The Raiders scored all of their points in the second quarter to build the lead.
Treen had another solid night passing for 164 yards and running for 97 yards and one touchdown. Maurice Mills hauled in 7 Treen offerings for 141 yards and a TD of his own.
Maurice Peace took a hand off from Treen and scored from 5 yards out with 2:38 to go to cut the RFA lead to (14-13). Peace rushed for 93 yards on 14 carries on the night.
The PAT by Doug Perrotta knotted things up at (14-14). The Raiders had marched 85 yards, in 12 plays, to take control.
The momentum stayed with the visitors, as Jordan Treen and Maurice Mills hooked up on a 73 yard pass play to send the Roman’s into the locker room shaking their heads, down (21-14).
Mills did a beautiful job getting a cornerback to bite on a down and out. Treen hit him in stride and Mills was off, untouched, to the end zone.
Rich Stapleton’s second TD was a big one as RFA tied things up at (21-21) with 6:41 to go. The RFA defense then did the trick to get the ball back for the game winning drive.
That drive was made possible when the Rome defense stopped Proctor on 4th and inches, at the 43, to keep their hopes alive.
As hot as the Proctor offense was in the first half, i’ts hard to imagine a defense doing a better job than RFA’s did in the second half. The Knights held Proctor to just three first downs, none in the fourth quarter.
Rivalry alive! Season alive for RFA. The win improves the Knights record to (1-3) while the Raiders fall to .500 at (2-2).
RFA 24 Proctor 21
1 2 3 4 Total
Proctor 0 21 0 0 21
RFA 7 7 0 10 24