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June 24, 2013

Stallions top champs in final seconds, again

The Daily Star

---- — Staff Report

Last weekend, the Oneonta City Stallions did something no Northeastern Football Alliance team had ever done before.

This past weekend, the Stallions did it again.

Oneonta High graduate Noble Champen threw for 245 yards and three touchdowns Saturday at Schenectady High, where the Stallions beat three-time defending NFA champion Troy, 35-29.

“I can safely say this team is for real this year,” co-owner Tom Terry said of his Stallions, who handed Troy it’s first NFA loss in three-plus seasons, 37-34, on June 15 at Hartwick College’s Wright Stadium. “This team is going to be in every game. I’m convinced of that now.”

Champen hit Zach Blocker for a 68-yard touchdown pass on the third play of the game for first-place Oneonta City, which took a 20-7 lead into halftime. Champen also had an 18-yard TD pass to Jake Trotter and an 18-yard scoring run in the second quarter.

The Fighting Irish (2-2) pulled to 20-14 after three quarters, setting up a wild fourth. Although Blocker scored from 14 yards out in the final period, Troy went on to take a 29-28 lead on a 60-yard TD pass and two-point conversion run with 2 minutes, 30 seconds left, Terry said.

The Stallions then mounted an eight-play scoring drive capped by Champen’s 28-yard TD pass to Jesse Leever, who scored with 10 seconds left. Sidney graduate Jimmy Kazalski followed with his third extra point for the final margin.

“Every game has gone down to under 30 seconds (to decide the outcome),” Terry said of his team’s 3-1 start. “This is foreign territory for this team and organization. I guess, at this point, we just don’t know how to lose.”

Blocker finished with 116 receiving yards on four catches for Oneonta City, which got five catches and 90 yards from Trotter. Champen contributed 66 rushing yards on eight carries.

Dave Pledger had seven tackles and a fumble recovery to lead the Stallions’ defense, which got six tackles from Andrew Ruff.

“This was an absolutely huge road win for us,” said Terry, whose team will receive a forfeit victory this coming week — Potsdam’s NFA franchise folded — for the franchise’s first four-game winning streak in its five-year history. “We’ve got to learn to play with a lead, which is something we haven’t had too much experience with. But our guys dug right in and came right back at them. That’s (Troy’s) first home loss in years. They were shocked.”

The Stallions, who will be 4-1 after this week’s forfeit, are off until July 13’s home game against Cortland. That will start a three-game homestand at Hartwick College’s Wright Stadium for the Stallions, who will host Watertown on July 20 and Utica on July 27. All three games will begin at 6:30 p.m.