ONEONTA _ All the positives Oneonta High's football team can take from its opener weren't enough to offset a couple handfuls of glaring mistakes.
Bryce Wooden rushed for 99 yards, and speedy freshman Skylar Thompson scored on a 94-yard kickoff return and a 63-yard reception, but Yellowjackets fell, 27-20, to Vestal on a gorgeous Friday night at Lloyd F. Baker Field.
"The positive things we did were running hard and making the blocks we needed to make," said Wooden, whose 10-yard scoring run late in the third quarter closed Oneonta's deficit to 21-14. "Unfortunately, we some key mistakes where we weren't paying attention to details."
A first half that included two lost fumbles, three 15-yard penalties and a couple of defensive breakdowns had OHS staring at 21-7 deficit.
"I think we played better than 21-7 (in the first half), but in the game of football, a couple of breaks here or there and the bounces don't go your way and it is 21-7," OHS coach Adam Hoover said. "It was mental mistakes. I think a lot of it was nerves."
Twice in the first half, the Yellowjackets drove inside of Vestal's 35, but both ended in lost fumbles.
The first came on OHS' opening drive. Scott Conrade broke a 20-yard run around the right end to Vestal's 38. Then on third-on-3, Wooden went up the middle and nearly had first-down yardage before the Golden Bears' Devin Mullins popped the ball loose and Vestal recovered at its 33.
Then, after physical Vestal running back John Capwell scored the first of three touchdowns on a contact-free, 66-yard run off left tackle, the Yellowjackets drove from their 20 to Vestal's 8 _ a drive that bridged the first and second quarters.
The key play came on a 30-yard run up the middle by Nick Giovagnoli that brought the ball to Vestal's 14. Wooden carried for 4 yards on first down and Giovagnoli picked up 2 yards on the next play.
Then Jacob Mykytyn came in motion to the left, but as the ball was snapped Mykytyn and another Oneonta back collided. The ball popped free from quarterback Brendan Lord as he tried to hand it off and Vestal's Pat Carlin recovered at the 14.
"The turnovers we had, we were driving," Wooden said. "One mistake can kill you and cost you the football game."
Later in the second quarter, following a 14-yard punt by Anthony Delgado, Vestal took over at Oneonta's 45.
On first down, Mankaure Daughtry headed left on a counter play and turned the corner. With only a safety to beat, Daughtry made a sharp cut to his right and raced untouched into the end zone. Mike Chewens' PAT made it 14-0, with 6 minutes, 23 seconds left in the opening half.
"We were fortunate," Vestal coach Tank Anderson said of the first half. "We got a couple of turnovers and we didn't turn the ball over, and we have the capability to pop the big one."
Enter Thompson, who looked like anything but a freshman on this night.
He fielded the ensuing kickoff on the 6 and showed patience as he started up the center of the field. Once he noticed a crease, Thompson burst up the field and then headed down the left hashmark untouched into the end zone. Mat Robinson's extra point cut Vestal's lead to 14-7.
"He's only a freshman?" Anderson said of Thompson. "He's going to be a special one."
Added Hoover: "The first thing that caught our attention was his speed, but you never know how a freshman is going to respond on the varsity in his first game, but he had a great game. He showed he has speed. He's definitely a weapon for us."
The Golden Bears responded with an 11-play, 62-yard drive capped by Capwell's 6-yard run. Capwell took an inside handoff and slanted right into end zone. Chewens' PAT made it 21-7 with 58 seconds left in the half.
When Vestal's opening drive of the second half stalled at Oneonta's 39, the Yellowjackets took possession on their 22.
They followed with their best drive of the night, a 78-yard march that lasted 11 plays.
Wooden carried eight times on the drive, using his 6-foot-3, 205-pound body to churn out 45 punishing yards. Oneonta threw once on the drive with Lord hitting Delgado to a slant for 20 yards to Vestal's 25.
Wooden capped it with a 10-yard run, powering through an arm tackle at the 6 before running over two Vestal defenders at the goal line. Robinson's extra point made it 21-14 with 1:42 left in a fast-moving third quarter.
Again, Vestal responded. It drove 66 yards in six plays, with Capwell breaking runs of 28 and 30 yards, the latter resulting in a touchdown. The big play came on third-and-13 from Oneonta's 42, when left-handed quarterback Nick Wegmann rolled left and hit John Edwards for 12 yards along the left sideline.
The next play, Capwell ran untouched off left tackle to make it 27-14.
Oneonta's next drive stalled at Vestal's 30, when Wooden was stuffed for no gain on fourth-and-2.
Vestal ate up more than seven minutes on its next drive, giving the ball back to Oneonta on downs at its 15.
Though the Yellowjackets' next drive resulted in a touchdown, it came with one time left on the clock. Thompson ran a post pattern, caught a well thrown ball from Lord and made a move to the middle. He then reversed field and raced down the right sideline on a 63-yard play.
"We saw what we have to work on and we saw a lot of positives," Wooden said. "We want to build on that success next week (against Johnson City)."
Vestal 27, Oneonta 20
Vestal 7 14 0 6 _ 27
Oneonta 0 7 7 6 _ 20
V _ John Capwell 66 run (Mike Chewens kick), 1:38
V _ Mankaure Daughtry 45 run (Mike Chewens kick), 6:23
O _ Skylar Thompson 94 run (Mat Robinson kick), 6:10
V _ John Capwell 6 run (Mike Chewens kick), :58
O _ Bryce Wooden 10 run (Mat Robinson kick), 1:42
V _ John Capwell 30 run (kick failed), 11:06
O _ Skylar Thompson 63 pass from Brendan Lord (no attempt), :00
Vestal rushing: John Capwell 16-189, Mankaure Daughtry 6-53, Pat Carlin 8-22, Marshall Case 7-13, Nick Wegmann 2-7, Ken Burkus 4-5, Henry Tokos 1-4, Bobby Wassel 1-0.
Oneonta rushing: Bryce Wooden 22-99, Scott Conrade 4-70, Nick Giovagnoli 2-32, Zach Pidgeon 3-15, Skylar Thompson 2-9, Jacob Mykytyn 2-3, Brendan Lord 4-(-21).
Vestal passing: Nick Wegmann 3-for-6, 38 yards, int.
Oneonta passing: Brendan Lord 8-for-16, 153 yards.
Vestal receiving: John Edwards 2-27, Pat Carlin 1-11.
Oneonta receiving: Anthony Delgado 6-84, Skylar Thompson 1-63, Taharen Williams 1-6.
Rob Centorani can be reached at email@example.com or 607-432-1000, ext. 209.