Fontanarosa & Lancers Shine in Homecoming Victory
The Lewiston-Porter Lancers football team may have three losses, but Thursday night versus East Aurora, the Kelly green and white proved that record is not indicative of the skill they possess.
On the cusp of homecoming weekend, the Lancers scored a big 43-22 victory over the East Aurora Blue Devils, who came into the game with a 3-1 record.
Gino Fontanarosa, like he has all year, shined in the Lew-Port backfield, as well as the team’s secondary.
Despite a stellar presence from the Lancers’ Green Machine fan section, the game did not start peachy for L-P.
After a turnover on downs on offense, the Blue Devils got on the board quick. On third and 18, Lucas Juliano found a tip-toeing TJ Marsh along the sidelines for a 44-yard touchdown pass, putting East Aurora up 7-0.
Lew-Port’s offense put the pedal to the metal on its next drive. After a John Wendt return to the Lancers 37, quarterback JP Stewart ran for seven yards, then Fontanarosa had back to back carries for 14 yards, which included a 15-yard facemask penalty. After two more carries from Fontanarosa for six yards, Stewart found wide receiver Corey Stack on third and five for a 17-yard touchdown pass. Following a penalty on the extra point, L-P went for two and were successful to make it 8-7.
The Lancers forced a three and out on the ensuing East Aurora possession. Fontanarosa wasted no time to extend the Lancers lead, as he took the first play 65 yards for a touchdown. After a successful fake field goal pass, L-P led 16-7.
The first half was a barn burner back and forth, as Marsh returned the ensuing kick to the five-yard-line. Two plays later, Shane MacSwan was in the endzone from three yards out, cutting the Lancers lead to 16-14.
The Blue Devils forced a turnover on downs after an 11-play Lancers drive, but then proceeded to go three and out offensively.
With a little time left in the first half, the Lancers embarked on one final offensive drive. Two pass interference calls benefitted L-P, and with 1:16 left, Stewart found Wendt who dove in the endzone to secure another Lancers touchdown. The score extended the score to 22-14, a lead the Lancers took into halftime.
East Aurora received to start the second half and tied things up rather quick. After a few decent carries from MacSwan, Juliano found Marsh in the endzone from eight yards. Following a successful two-point conversion pass, the game was tied at 22.
Unfortunately, for the Blue Devils, that’s as close as they would get.
Wendt returned the ensuing kickoff to the Lancers 42-yard-line. On the third play of the possession, Stewart found Wendt for 16 yards and three plays later, Fontanarosa took it to the house from 42 yards, extending the Lancers lead to 29-22.
After a three and out, Fontanarosa put the team on his back, running six times for 38 yards, with the final carry being from nine yards for a score. The drive put Fontanarosa over 200 yards on the ground and extended the Lancers’ lead to 36-22.
Fontanarosa wasn’t done though, as he intercepted a pass on defense, returned it to the Blue Devils two-yard-line, then finished it himself with his fourth touchdown rush of the game, making it 43-22, Lancers.
The offense would take a break on both sides for the remainder of the game, and the Lancers walked away the victors on homecoming, 43-22.
For the Lancers, Fontanarosa rushed 28 times for 226 yards and four touchdowns. Additionally, Stewart went 9-14 with 85 yards and two touchdown passes. On the receiving end, Wendt had three receptions for 39 yards and a touchdown; Stack had two for 20 yards and a touchdown; and Cooper Krawczyk had three for 26 yards.
Defensively, Frank Previte led the way with five tackles, while Mark Stoneham, Wendt and Fontanarosa added four tackles.
After starting 1-0, the Lancers had lost three straight, but were in a trio of tightly contested games. To get back on track with a “W” was a relieving feeling for Lancers Coach Matt Bradshaw and Fontanarosa.
“It’s great to get back in the win column. I mean this team is not a 2-3 team,” Bradshaw said. “In my opinion, we’re one of the top two teams in our division, but the ball just hasn’t fallen our way. Tonight was the best performance of a Lew-Port team since I’ve been here.”
Fontanarosa added, “It means a lot. Homecoming is special for us and we haven’t got a win on homecoming in a few years, so it was definitely great for us and boosts us.”
Bradshaw said that overlooked in the midst of Fontanarosa’s big game was the play of Stewart.
“JP probably played his best game of his three-year career here,” Bradshaw remarked. “JP definitely played the best game of his career.”
The victory was also a morale booster for the Lancers offense, as the team had scored an average of 16.3 points in the last three games.
“Tonight, we finished – and the was the emphasis all week was finishing. Finish, finish, finish and find that extra gear inside the 10, and we did tonight,” Bradshaw said.
Wins for Lew-Port are usually tough, grind-it-out victories, as the Lancers list only 21 players on its roster, meaning several players are on the field at all times.
“When we play as one – all 21 of them – we’re a tough team,” Bradshaw said. “Our record is not indicative of how good we are. Just not being able to finish on some drives in some earlier games really, really hurt us. I’m just proud of my boys. There’s a lot of football left. Lew-Port hasn’t had a winning record in some time and that’s our goal to have more wins than losses.”
Fontanarosa added, “It starts in practice with coach. We’re conditioned with the 21 guys we have. We all have to play and we know that, so we come to practice ready, we condition, bring it to the game and go from there.”
Personally, for Fontanarosa, the senior sits at 887 rushing yards for the season. He would be remised if the thought of 1,000 wasn’t on his mind, but nevertheless, he took it with a team-first attitude.
“I mean, yeah,” Fontanarosa said with a laugh regarding the thought of reaching the 1,000-yard plateau. “But if it comes, it comes. I’ll be happy for it.”
Next, East Aurora heads to Pioneer for a 7 p.m. kickoff Friday, Oct. 11, while the Lancers will play at 2 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 12, at Newfane.