OTEGO — In a microcosm of its season, Unatego started slowly Friday night, but once the Spartans found their stride the improvement was dramatic.
The Spartans scored twice late in the first half and then poured it on after halftime en route to a 42-14 Section Four Football Conference victory over once-beaten Deposit/Hancock that clinched their second straight Division V title.
Sophomore quarterback Josh Feyerabend was in the middle of all it, rushing for three touchdowns, throwing two more scoring passes and kicking a 37-yard field goal, to boot.
Following a 54-13 drubbing at the hands of perennial power Chenango Forks in Week 1, the Spartans (5-1, 4-0) have rolled off five consecutive victories.
“I don’t think anyone would have picked us (to win the division title) out of the get-go,” said Unatego coach Frank Microni, whose team graduated a boatload of seniors – Daily Star Player of the Year Tyler Butler included in that group – following a 6-3 season a year ago that ended with a 26-21 loss to eventual state semifinalist Tioga. “Nobody knew who these guys were. We lost a lot. We went into the season and tried to adjust to what we had.”
Microni’s squad seemed at a loss offensively over the first quarter-and-a-half Friday. The Spartans’ first four drives ended with two punts, an interception and turning the ball over on downs. They made one first down during that span.
But on their opening possession of the second quarter, Unatego drove 60 yards in 13 plays for the game’s first score. Included in the march was a half-yard gain by Feyerabend on a quarterback sneak on fourth-and-inches from midfield, and a 6-yard keeper by Feyerabend off the left side on a fourth-and-3 from Deposit’s 21.
Two plays later, Feyerabend scored from 8 yards on a keeper right, receiving a key downfield block by Ryan Marszal, to give the Spartans a 6-0 lead with 5:08 left in the first half.
After the Spartans’ defense forced a punt, they took over at their 32 with 2:44 left in the half.
The ensuing drive lasted three plays.
On second-and-11, Feyerabend found Marszal over the middle for a 22-yard gain. The next play, Feyerabend started right sending an option pitch to Corbin Henry, who made a nice play just to catch the pitch before heading up the right sideline. Marszal again made a key seal block that helped spring Henry on a 47-yard scoring run. It gave Unatego a 12-0 lead heading into halftime.
“We had a lot of momentum,” said Feyerabend, who carried 14 times for 97 yards and completed 8 of 19 passes for 151 yards. “We kept pounding the ball. Like coach Mac said, they didn’t think we were much at the beginning of the season, but we’ve proved ourselves.”
Unatego’s defense forced a three-and-out to start the second half. The Spartans’ first possession of the third quarter covered 64 yards in five plays, with Feyerabend capping it with a scintillating 53-yard scoring run.
It started with a fake to Henry. Feyerabend then took off right and when he neared the right sideline, he cut it all the way back across the field, avoiding several tacklers along the way. Though the play went 53 yards, Feyerabend probably ran twice that distance to get to the end zone. His ensuing PAT made it 19-0 and Feyerabend was just getting started.
When Unatego’s Nick Bush recovered Marcus Shaver fumble at midfield, Feyerabend and Kellen Komenda collaborated on a beauty of a 50-yard scoring strike the next play.
The speedy Komenda zipped down the right sideline. When Feyerabend let go of his spiral, Deposit/Hancock’s defensive back was in good position, but by the time Komenda ran under it about 40 yards downfield, he had a couple strides on the defender and continued into the end zone. Feyerabend’s PAT made it 26-0 with 6:18 remaining in the third quarter.
“We found some things that worked, our players made plays and our line settled down,” Microni said of scoring four times over an 11-minute span.
The third quarter ended with the teams combining to score three touchdowns in a span of 1:58.
D/H quarterback Matt Mills sandwiched scoring passes to David Schaeffer of 15 and 50 yards between a 43-yard Feyerabend-to-Tanner Winchester touchdown pass.
In the fourth quarter, Feyerabend scored on a 1-yard run and kicked his long field goal to cap the scoring.
“As a sophomore, looking at my seniors, this is amazing,” said Feyerabend, who eclipsed 1,000 yards passing for the season. “I just want them to have the best year. I think I’ve done a lot and I love all the seniors to death. I’m glad I could help them get where they wanted to go.”
D/H (4-2), which received a 131 passing yards from Mills, is 3-1 in Division V.
Unatego 42, Deposit/Hancock 14
Deposit/Hancock0 0 14 0 – 14
Unatego0 12 20 10 – 42
U – Josh Feyerabend 8 run (pass failed), 5:08
U – Corbin Henry 47 run (pass failed), 1:44
U – Josh Feyerabend 53 run (Josh Feyerabend kick), 9:14
U – Kellen Komenda 50 pass from Josh Feyerabend (Josh Feyerabend kick), 6:18
D – David Schaeffer 15 pass from Matt Mills (run failed), 2:27
U – Tanner Winchester 43 pass from Josh Feyerabend (kick blocked), 1:47
D – David Schaeffer 50 pass from Matt Mills (Marcus Shaver run), 1:29
U – Josh Feyerabend 1 run (Josh Feyerabend kick), 11:01.
U – Josh Feyerabend 37 FG, 5:06
Deposit/Hancock rushing: Marcus Shaver 10-4, Ethan Wormuth 1-4, Matt Mills 8-23, Ronnie Ballard 2-(-8), Dane Edwards 5-20, Brandon Macumber 1-(-4).
Unatego rushing: Josh Feyerabend 14-97, Corbin Henry 11-87, Jesse Coleman 4-0, Ryan Marszal 2-(-2), Kellen Komenda 4-(-23).
Deposit/Hancock passing: Matt Mills 8-for-18, 123 yards; Ronnie Ballard 1-for-4, 8 yards.
Unatego passing: Josh Feyerabend 8-for-19, 151 yards, 1 int.; Kellen Komenda 1-for-1, 7 yards.
Deposit/Hancock receiving: David Schaeffer 6-109, Brandon Macumber 3-22, Marcus Shaver 1-0.
Unatego receiving: Jared Jones 1-7, Tanner Winchester 2-50, Corbin Henry 1-9, Ryan Marszal 3-32, Kellen Komenda 2-53, Kyle Spaulding 1-7.
Rob Centorani can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 607-432-1000, ext. 209.