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Kenmore West Knocks Off First-Place Clarence

Erriono Giardina had the flu on Friday but that certainly wasn’t going to keep the Kenmore West senior running back off the football field.

In fact, many of the Blue Devils are battling an assortment of aches and pains, but that wasn’t going to keep them from pulling off one of the season’s biggest upsets.

Kenmore West made the big plays on both sides of the ball in the second half and posted a 14-10 win at previously-unbeaten Clarence in Class AA North action on Friday night.

“Words can’t even describe this,” said Giardina. “I love my team, my coaches, shout out to everyone. Everybody doubted us, we knew we were a big underdog; we haven’t had a healthy game since the first week. Finally healthy, we showed up today.”

With many key players healthy – or at least healthy enough to play – the Blue Devils picked up their statement win of the season. Jamir Lynch’s 16-yard touchdown pass to Joe Stewart with 7:32 left in the fourth quarter proved to be the winner for Kenmore West, which moved to 4-2 overall and finished 3-2 in the division.

“We told our kids that if we wanted to do some things, kids would need to sacrifice their bodies and doing the right things,” Kenmore West coach John Haynes said. “Everyone did what they needed to do. We executed and we finished.

A bend-but-don’t-break defense was the difference for the Blue Devils. Clarence reached at least the Kenmore West 30-yard line on eight of its drives – but on six occasions came away with nothing. With three minutes left in the game, the Red Devils got to the Blue Devils’ 25 but Kenmore West linebacker Tyler White stopped Clarence quarterback Jack Putney short on a fourth-down try.

The Red Devils got one last desperation drive but again turned the ball over on downs.

“It was just unfortunate that we couldn’t pick up that first down when we drove deep there,” Clarence coach Mark Layer said after his team fell to 5-1 overall, 4-1 Class AA North. “But that’s a credit to them. They played good defense near their goal-line and good for them.”

The Red Devils controlled play for most of the first half but couldn’t get on the board until just 18 seconds remained in the second quarter on Putney’s 12-yard touchdown pass to Niko Mullen. Kenmore West made its first big play of the second half nice and early as Giardina got loose down the left side line and raced 67 yards for the score. Lynch’s two-point run gave the Blue Devils the lead.

Mullen answered with a 29-yard field goal to give Clarence a 10-8 lead – an advantage that proved to be short lived as Lynch and the Blue Devils had a quick reply.

“The plays that really hurt were the big plays they got from the running back and quarterback,” Layer said. “We were able to contain those plays in the first half, we didn’t contain those plays in the second half. That’s the kind of explosive team they have.

Lynch threw for 47 yards and ran for 58 more for the Blue Devils. Giardina ran for 152 yards on 10 carries for West. Jon Stevens led Clarence’s committee backfield with 102 yards on 18 carries.

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