Article:    
C-NS takes Baldwinsville's best shot, then Northstars flex their muscles
10/10/2017 5:59 AM

The Northstars are human after all.  Cicero-North Syracuse took Baldwinsville'sbest shot in the first half tonight before getting its defense dialed in and scoring 41 unanswered points for a 67-31 home victory.  In what was billed as a battle of the area's top Class AA football teams, a pair of 5-0 heavyweights slugged it out through most of the first 24 minutes. But in the end, it was too much of a Northstars' offense that now averages around 52 points per game.  The Bees, now 5-1, took a 31-26 lead with just under a minute until halftime when quarterback Ben Dwyer connected with tight end Gabe Horan for a 13-yard TD pass.  "We knew they were going to test us," said C-NS junior quarterback Conner Hayes, who had a pair of long TD runs and passed for three other scores. "B'ville's always a great team. We expected them to come out and play hard like this. They got a couple on us, but we just kept on fighting."  It was the third time in the frenetic first half that C-NS trailed the Bees - and the first time since the season opener against Fairport that the Northstars had trailed an opponent.  "We told the kids, this game's going to question your heart, its going to question your resolve, its going to question what you have in your character. What are you made of? And I think they responded," C-NS coach Dave Kline said.  The Bees' lead didn't last but 20 seconds.  C-NS (6-0) took the ensuing kickoff and immediately answered, as junior quarterback Conner Hayes ran 57 yards for his second TD of the game with just 36 seconds left on the clock.  And the Northstars weren't done.  A hard, squib kick glanced off the helmet of a Baldwinsville player and C-NS recovered at the Bees' 45-yard line with 32 seconds left to play.  Following a 15-yard run by Erik Pride, Hayes hit Lukas Merluzzi with a 30-yard TD pass with just 2 seconds left until the half. So 54 seconds after falling behind, the Northstars scored twice to take a 39-31 lead into the locker room. Kline said the coaches told the defense it had to step up.  "We said guys, this is not the way we play defense," Kline said. "We questioned their integrity, and a little bit of their manhood."  The Northstar defense responded with a second-half shutout.  After Pride scored the third of his four TDs on the night, C-NS got the ball back on a Jaiquawn McGriff interception at the Bees' 27-yard line.  The Northstars scored quickly, as Hayes hit Shy'rel Broadwater with an 11-yard TD pass to make the score 52-31 C-NS.The C-NS defense forced Baldwinsville's offense to turn the ball over on downs in its next two possessions, and that was the game.  "This team is very explosive," Pride said. "We just had to keep our composure when we got behind."  Baldwinsville coach Carl Sanfilippo said he was proud of the way his team played in the first half.  "We played well in the first half. We didn't show up in the second half," he said. "But that's a good football team. You have to give them a lot of credit."  Despite the loss, the Bees (3-1 in Class AA-2) remain right behind C-NS (4-0) with one week left in the regular season.  There's a good chance that the two teams could wind up across from each other in the sectional AA championship game next month.  Neither Sanfilippo nor Kline wanted to discuss that just yet.  "We're just going to focus on Nottingham now. We want the home-field advantage in the playoffs," Sanfilippo said.  Kline said his Northstars would lock in on next week's finale at Utica Proctor.  "We just want to focus on us and keep doing what we can do," he said.  But the coach admitted that the Northstars could be in the midst of a special season.  "We've thought all along that this team has the potential to do some things."

 

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