ONEONTA _ With Bryce Wooden's powerful legs churning as relentlessly as the rain that fell Friday and Anthony Delgado turning in three big plays, Oneonta High opened its Division III schedule in the Section Four Football Conference with a key victory.
Wooden rushed 35 times for a game-high 194 yards as the well-rested Yellowjackets eked out a 35-31 victory over Chenango Valley at a soggy Lloyd Baker Field.
"To be honest, after three weeks, I didn't know what to expect," OHS coach Adam Hoover said of his team's three-week layoff after a Week 2 game at Johnson was canceled because of flooding, likewise with a Week 3 game against Owego and also a replacement game against Trumansburg last weekend.
Delgado bookended this topsy-turvy affair with an 80-yard kickoff return to start the game and a clinching interception with 1 minute, 45 seconds to go.
"It's an opening division game," Delgado said. "It's big and you have to make big plays happen."
For good measure, Delgado also scored the winning touchdown.
He ran a go route down the right sideline and adjusted nicely to an underthrown ball by Brendan Lord. Delgado came back to the ball as a Chenango Valley defensive back had trouble locating it. Delgado then side-stepped another defender and continued down the sideline for a 40-yard scoring play that gave OHS a 34-31 lead with 9:24 left in the fourth quarter.
"I noticed Brendan didn't get a good grip on the ball," Delgado said. "It was behind me a little bit, so I just caught it. Then I saw a guy coming from my left and I just let him inside me."
Sophomore Mat Robinson's third extra point of the night capped the scoring. Those PATs, along with a two-point conversion pass from Lord to freshman Skylar Thompson in the third quarter, proved pivotal.
Both teams scored five touchdowns, but the Warriors (0-3, 0-1) _ hit hard by graduation after advancing to the Class B state semifinals last season _ missed on four of their five conversion attempts (two PATs, a failed run and a failed pass).
"It really was," Hoover said of his team's success on conversions. "Mike Vergari is our snapper and Zach Pidgeon did a great job of getting the ball on the tee. Mat is a sophomore and we moved him up for a lot of reasons, but one of the big reasons is because he can kick. A couple of times the ball was not on the tee right away and he still made them."
Though Wooden rushed for 194 yards, he took a backseat in terms of total yards to the Warriors' Adam Greene. A speedy senior, Greene rushed 10 times for 176 yards and two touchdowns. He also caught a 47-yard scoring pass from Kevin Cox.
Greene's twin brother, Dustin, also figured in the scoring, returning an ill-advised pass over the middle from Lord 30 yards for a touchdown in the second quarter to give CV a 19-13 lead.
Following that score, Oneonta went three-and-out and CV took over at its 25 with 1:35 left in the half.
The Yellowjackets' Taharen Williams made a diving interception on an underthrown ball by Cox on first down, giving OHS possession at the Warriors' 28 with 1:28 remaining before halftime.
Six punishing runs by the 6-foot-3, 205-pound Wooden followed and produced a key touchdown just before halftime.
The first five of those carries all went to left side and covered 26 yards.
Facing a second-and-goal from the 2, Oneonta called timeout with eight seconds left.
"I saw them cheating on the left side and I said coach, 'Let's run to the right side, because they're cheating left,'" Wooden said. "We got great blocking on the play."
Wooden took a toss right from Lord and had a wide open lane to the end zone. Robinson's PAT gave OHS a 20-19 halftime lead.
"I told the kids here this could be the turning point of our season," Hoover said of his team's score just before the half. "If we score here, we go into halftime with momentum."
But the Warriors wrested that momentum early in the third quarter. After Dylan Mosher recovered a Wooden fumble at CV's 42, Evan Trebilock gained 11 yards on first down.
Then Cox hit a wide open Adam Greene behind Oneonta's secondary on a 47-yard scoring play as the Warriors took a 25-20 lead.
Later in the quarter, CV set up to punt from Oneonta's 48. The ball was snapped over Eric Silvanic, resulting in a 19-yard loss after Pidgeon tackled the punter on CV's 33.
Wooden capped the ensuing drive with a 25-yard touchdown run. He bounced outside to the left and then cut toward the middle, avoiding contact until reaching the goal line, when a CV tackler hit him low and Wooden skidded 5 yards into the end zone. Lord then found Thompson in the right flat on the two-point pass as Oneonta re-took the lead at 28-25.
Again, the Warriors answered.
Their four-play, 67-yard drive ended with Zach Collins slipping unnoticed into Oneonta's secondary, catching a 25-yard throw from Cox and going the rest of the way untouched for a 61-yard touchdown. No Yellowjackets defender was within 10 yards of Collins when he caught the pass in the middle of the field. The Yellowjackets stopped Cox on the two-point run and trailed, 31-28, with 13 seconds left in the third quarter.
But Oneonta drove 70 yards on its next possession.
Wooden had gains of 11 and 18 yards on the drive before Delgado scored on the 40-yard pass play.
Most impressive about Wooden's day was that probably a third of his yards came after contact.
"We just had to get those yards and get this win, no matter what," said Wooden, who gained 99 yards in Oneonta's season-opening 27-20 loss to Vestal on Sept. 2. "If I had to drive through two or three people, I just had to get there. It was a great effort from our offense."
CV's last two possessions ended when Nick Giovagnoli recovered a fumble at OHS' 40 with 8:28 left and Delgado's interception near the left sideline with 1:45 to go.
Oneonta 35, Chenango Valley 31
Chenango Valley 6 13 12 0 _ 31
Oneonta 13 7 8 7 _ 35
O _ Anthony Delgado 82 kickoff return (kick failed)
C _ Adam Greene 17 run (kick failed)
O _ Bryce Wooden 1 run (Mat Robinson kick)
C _ Adam Greene 72 run (Eric Silvanic kick)
C _ Dustin Greene 30 interception return (kick failed)
O _ Bryce Wooden 2 run (Mat Robinson kick)
C _ Adam Greene 47 pass from Kevin Cox (pass failed)
O _ Bryce Wooden 25 run (Skylar Thompson pass from Brendan Lord)
C _ Zach Collins 61 pass from Kevin Cox (run failed)
O _ Anthony Delgado 40 pass from Brendan Lord (Mat Robinson kick)
Chenango Valley rushing: Mike Fillers 12-36, Evan Trebilock 4-26, Adam Greene 10-176, Kevin Cox 6-23, Eric Silvanic 1-(-19), Tom Boburka 1-3.
Oneonta rushing: Bryce Wooden 35-194, Scott Conrade 2-30, Skylar Thompson 9-11, Nick Giovagnoli 5-10, Jacob Mykytyn 3-3, Anthony Delgado 1-0, Brendan Lord 2-(-2).
Chenango Valley passing: Kevin Cox 4-for-6, 131 yards, 2 ints.
Oneonta passing: Brendan Lord 3-for-7, 64 yards, 1 int.
Chenango Valley receiving: Mike Fillers 2-23, Adam Greene 1-47, Zach Collins 1-61.
Oneonta receiving: Taharen Williams 1-26, Skylar Thompson 1-(-2), Anthony Delgado 1-40.
Rob Centorani can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 607-432-1000, ext. 209.