By Rob Centorani Staff Writer
The Daily Star
---- — SIDNEY — Senior Billy Kozak rushed and received for 297 yards and scored five touchdowns Friday night, and the Sidney needed every bit of it.
Sidney opened its 2013 season with a frantic 42-40 Section Four Football Conference non-division victory over Chenango Valley on this pleasant fall evening.
Kozak, one of a few holdovers from a 6-3 squad that graduated 14 seniors, scored on runs of 7, 71, 10 and 18 yards, and scored his final touchdown on a 45-pass reception in the fourth quarter that gave the Warriors a 42-34 lead with 9 minutes, 26 seconds showing on the clock.
“Billy is a big playmaker for us,” Sidney coach Jeff Matthews said. “When he makes people miss like he does, defenses have to start peeking at him and it opens things for everyone else.”
But even with the shifty and speedy Kozak zipping through CV’s defense, Sidney had an equally difficult time dealing with Chenango Valley’s passing game.
CV quarterback Bryan Pert completed 15 of 30 passes for 272 yards, with eight of those completions going to lanky wideout Gavin Ashman for 123 yards and another four to the athletic Anthony Miller for 108 more.
“Heck of a ballplayer,” safety Kozak said of Ashman, who hauled in a 17-yard scoring pass from Pert with Kozak and Brandon Bessett all over him early in the fourth quarter as CV pulled to 34-28 with 11:03 left in the fourth quarter. “It seemed like everything in the air he came down with.”
After that play, CV recovered an onsides kick. Then three Pert-to-Ashman completions covered 57 yards, setting up Aaron Trumino’s 3-yard scoring run with 9:54 left. Sidney blocked the extra point attempt, leaving the score tied at 34.
Starting the ensuing possession on its 33, Sidney quarterback Patrick Vibbard raced 22 yards on a keeper right after faking to Kozak on the first play. On the next play, Vibbard hit Kozak on a swing pass, heading left. Kozak made the first defender miss – as was the norm on this night – and outran the pursuit along the left sideline for a 45-yard scoring play. Kozak then eased into the end zone on the two-point conversion giving Sidney a 42-34 lead with 9:26 left.
“I’m just getting behind my line,” Kozak said of his huge night that included 252 rushing yards on 26 attempts. “They do all the work. I just follow them. All credit goes to the line. They did a fantastic job. That’s what won the game.”
CV’s next two possessions ended in interceptions. Sidney’s Raven Serverino stepped in front of Pert pass for the first one, and Bessett made an sliding interception in the end zone on the next one, that giving Sidney possession at its 20 with 2:32 left.
But Sidney couldn’t muster a first down as it attempted to run out the clock. It set up for a punt with about 50 seconds left, but high snap led to a block. A CV defender scooped it up and returned it to Sidney’s 1.
Trumino scored on the next play to make it 42-40, with 44 seconds left. But Zak Green deflected Pert’s two-point pass near the right pylon, keeping it a two-point game.
When Tanner Schunk recovered CV’s onsides kick, Sidney’s victory was finally secure.
“It’s huge for the young guys to get the first game out of the way, especially with a win,” Kozak said. “Everybody is determined to make this a big year.”