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Spartans Turn Rally Into Rout in Jamestown

Two Class AA undefeated teams went head-to-head Thursday night in Jamestown, NY. And, for the first quarter it appeared the hometown Red Raiders would roll the Williamsville North Spartans. Spotting Jamestown a 13-0 lead wasn’t in the game plan for head coach Mike Mammoliti but after a lucky break early in the 2nd quarter rallied to defeat the Red Raiders 41-13 to stay perfect through the first five weeks of the Section VI football season.

Joe Nusall scored Will North’s first touchdown in the second quarter. Capping off a four play drive, keyed by a fumble recovery by Josh Dziama inside the Jamestown 12-yard line.

After forcing the Red Raiders offense to punt on their following possession, Nusall then tossed a 71-yard touchdown pass to Dylan Kelly and after a successful extra point attempt by Eddie Bianco, Will North grabbed hold of the lead 14-13 and never looked back.

Joe Nusall hits Dylan Kelly for the 71 yard TD reception, XP good. @WillNorthFB takes lead over @JHSRedRaiders 14-13 #WNYA @WGRZHSSports — Frank Wolf (@wolf3328) September 28, 2017

Nusall would finish the day 13 of 22 for 194 yards and two TD passes (both to Kelly).  Kelly, nephew of Buffalo Bills Hall of Fame QB Jim, played a fantastic game on both sides of the ball for North, in addition to scoring his two touchdowns, Kelly, along with sophomore Scott Hopkins, was instrumental in slowing down the Red Raiders offense.

Hopkins came up with a key interception in the third quarter for North who at the time was only up by 7 points.  Less than a minute later Kelly caught a 25-yard TD pass from Nusall and the rout was on.

“They bit on the hitch earlier and it worked again,” Kelly said after his big night. “Starting off slow though, we know we can’t do that. Not against Lancaster they’ll feed off of that. We all played hard though especially in the 2nd half.”

The Red Raiders scored on their 3rd possession of the game with a little bit of trickery. Starting at their own 5-yard line, half-back Andy Pumford took advantage of blown coverage in the North secondary and completed a pass to Francisco Rodriguez at about midfield. The Jr then outran Marquel Wells, one of North’s fastest runners to the end zone for the game’s first touchdown.

Jamestown followed up on the next drive with another TD, this time it was Punford, credited with a 51- yard TD reception from Drew Boggs, extending the Red Raiders lead to 13 points (XP try failed).

The Red Raiders defense was the story of the first quarter and into the second, limiting North to just one first down on their first 6 possessions.

Things took a dramatic change though in the 2nd quarter. With the help of Jamestown’s miscue on a punt return, Will North recovered a fumble deep in Red Raiders territory. Within a flash, the Spartans had the momentum and the lead. “That wasn’t the game, but it was the spark we needed at the time to get things going,” Mammoliti said. “It was crucial though because they had been handling us pretty good up until that point.”

The Jamestown offense had been clicking until midway through the second and they were doing it without much help from freshman Savon Vansickle, who a week earlier scored four TD’s. “North was pretty stout up front, they had nine in the box and it just wasn’t the match-up we wanted,” Red Raiders head coach Tom Langworthy said after the loss.

Vansickle had the game’s first two carries, the first a run to the outside that picked up six yards and then the second was a draw play up the middle in which he was met by a gang of defenders at the line of scrimmage. That was a trend for most of the evening as North handled the trenches in superior fashion for most of the game on both sides of the ball.

The Spartans running attack blew up Jamestown in the second half with Marquel Wells leading all rushers with 185 yards and two long TD runs, the first was from 43 yards out and the second was an 88-yard burst with under two minutes left in the game. “We just play Spartans football,” Wells said postgame. “We play hard the whole game, we never quit. Our offensive line is the best, they block so well and open up the lanes for us.”

Ivan Ghemmegne also had a 7-yard TD run in the third quarter, but broke three tackles before reaching the goal line. “We felt good coming out here and we are all playing at a high-level right now,” Ghemmegne said.

The senior running back duo have many similarities in how they run and Thursday was a prime time to showcase their talents. Each possess speed and toughness, the offensive qualities Mammoliti has been blessed with over the past 17 years as head coach. Many of the yards tallied Thursday came after making initial contact at the line of scrimmage.

In addition to the line up front, the passing attack is better than what I remember. Nusall extended a number of plays simply by moving out of the pocket and if nothing was there he didn’t force a bad pass, he made the smart play in throwing the ball out of bounds. He does not mind taking a hit either. Jamestown had good pursuit, although they were unable to put Nusall on his back, the pressure was there for the full 48 minutes. “We executed well today and that’s basically what it came down too,” Mammoliti said. Nusall, just a junior picked up valuable Varsity experience last season and that seems to have paid off.

For Will North, this was another significant win, having rallied in week 4 to beat Orchard Park and again in week 5 on the road versus a previously unbeaten Jamestown team, averaging over 350 yards per game. The Spartans held the Red Raiders to just 222 yards, and two-thirds of that came from two plays in the first quarter.

Mammoliti and his staff didn’t wait for the half to make adjustments. They recognized Jamestown found a weakness early and tweaked their defense appropriately and effectively.

“Will North was the better team today.” Langworthy said. “I told my guys that there is a right way to win and also a right way to lose. We lost the right way. Nobody quit, everyone left it all out there and I’m proud of them for that.” The coach said.

The road, certainly will not be any easier for the Red Raiders as they will host the No. 2 ranked school in New York State, Lancaster (4-0) next Friday. “We will have a full eight days to prepare. Tomorrow night we’ll go up there and watch them. Review all of the film and we’ll play them tough,” Langworthy added.

The Spartans welcome Frontier (0-4) next Friday. The Falcons are home against Niagara Falls (0-4) tonight. “There are no weak sisters in AA. I’ve seen it enough to know that there is very little that separates the top from the bottom,” Mammoliti said.

After the game Nusall (Will North) and Gavin Bowen received Character Awards sponsored by Cross Training Athletics.

Point After

  1. Bianco (WN) was 5 of 5 on Extra Points but missed (barely) on a 31-yard try before the end of the 1st

  2. North rallied from being down 2 touchdowns for second week in a row

  3. Vansickle (Jamestown) is only a freshman but you will hear his name a lot in the coming years.

  4. There are players on Will North that haven’t lost a high-school football game in over 3 years

  5. With the Win, the Spartans have secured a playoff spot

Catch @wolf3328 each Saturday morning on WGR550’s “Inside High-School Sports” hosted by Tony Caligiuri with Roger Weiss and Rich Sanders from 10-11.

In case you missed it you can listen to the latest episode of High-School Football Weekly Podcast here

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