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Elmira Holds Back Union-Endicott's Furious Football Rally

Posted Saturday, September 14, 2013 by Mike Johnston
Elmira holds back Union-Endicott's furious football rally


ENDICOTT — Elmira’s Jerry McPeak and Eli Thomas teamed for 372 rushing yards Saturday night, leading Elmira to a 38-33 victory over Union-Endicott in a lengthy, sloppy and wild football game at Ty Cobb Stadium.

The Express held a 26-point advantage with 18:42 elapsed, and the lead was 38-12 midway into the third quarter before U-E mounted an improbable surge aided by recovery of first an onside kick and then a fumble. The Tigers’ final crack at go-ahead points was squelched when Sammy Davis was stopped for no gain on a fourth-and-3 play from the Express’ 11-yard line with 2:12 remaining.

Davis, a senior tailback who carried 29 times for 173 yards, kept U-E’s final drive afloat by rushing for 52 yards on a third-and-37 play that gave the hosts first down at Elmira’s 18-yard line.

McPeak rushed 24 times for 202 yards and two TDs, and Thomas 15 times for 170 and three scores for the Express, which has scored 96 points in its two wins this summer. U-E’s 0-2 start to the season can be largely attributed to its opponents’ 94 points through 96 minutes of football.

Hampering the Tigers’ efforts greatly Saturday were a ghastly 16 penalties for a 134-yard total, a mess that included 11 first-half infractions for 93 yards.

Union-Endicott’s rally was born of three touchdowns in a third-quarter span of just over four minutes.

After surrendering a rushing TD to Thomas on the eighth play of Elmira’s initial second-half possession, U-E drove 70 yards on 12 plays, last of which brought a 21-yard scoring pass from Joey Orlando to C.J. Krowiak on a superb pump-and-go play that featured equally fine execution on each end. Nick Yesensky’s lunging grab of Orlando’s two-point pass had U-E within 38-20 with 4:27 to play in the third.

U-E recovered a fumbled snap on Elmira’s next play from scrimmage, and three plays later Davis took a toss toward the home sideline and turbo-charged 35 yards for a TD that made it 38-26.

The Tigers’ Tahje Napoleon then recovered a bounding, end-over-end onside kick in the middle of the field to give the Tigers possession at Elmira’s 42-yard line. An 8-yard gain by Davis set in motion an eight-play drive that Davis closed by rushing in from 15 yards on a play that began through the heart of the Express’ defense. Krowiak converted the PAT kick for the game’s final point with 17.6 seconds to play in the third quarter.

Elmira whacked 4½ minutes from the game clock with a drive that concluded with a 52-yard punt by Thomas that reached the end zone for a touchback, setting up U-E at its 20 with 7:36 remaining.

The initial first down of the drive came on a 20-yard pass play from Orlando to Krowiak to advance U-E to its 42. But soon came a holding penalty, then a sack for an 11-yard loss, leading to that third-and-37 on which Davis took a toss to his left and sprinted up the sideline until being caught from behind by McPeak at the 18.

Davis was then dropped for a 6-yard loss by Allaah Sessions, then picked up 8 and 6 rushing yards, respectively, before being stopped by Dom Clark near the line of scrimmage on the Tigers’ final offensive play.

“You can’t turn the ball over,” Elmira coach Jimmy McCauley said of that which flipped the tide U-E’s way. “We got the ball and first snap on the center exchange, they got the ball again and scored. Onside kick or squib kick, they go down and score. It’s a game of momentum and it shifted big-time in their favor.

“But I’ll tell you what, our defense came up strong and made a big stop.”

Elmira defenders had their hands full of the Orlando-to-Krowiak combination. Their nine hook-ups went for 140 yards and two scores — first of which was a 36-yarder for a TD on the first play of the second quarter. Orlando faked, re-gathered and lofted, and Krowiak ran under the ball in space on the right side of the field.

U-E’s second score — following a rash of three Elmira TDs in just over five minutes of the second quarter — was a 44-yard pass from Yesensky to Drew Hogan. Yesensky was split wide right and accepted a lateral from Orlando before delivering to Hogan behind a surprised Express defense.

Elmira’s first four scores, each followed by a two-point run, came two apiece from McPeak and Thomas and ranged from 13 to 46 yards. It was a 13-yarder by McPeak and Thomas’ two-point chaser that had Elmira ahead by 32-6 with 5:18 remaining before halftime.

Orlando finished 14-for-28 for 179 yards with two TDs, two interceptions and a troubling number of bull’s-eye throws that were flat dropped.

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