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Elmira Pulls Away From Binghamton in Section 4 Class AA Football Final

Posted Tuesday, November 12, 2013 by Mike Johnston

ENDICOTT — Binghamton’s reign as Section 4 Class AA football champion is over, thanks mainly to Elmira senior Eli Thomas.

Thomas scored four touchdowns, including an electrifying 83-yard touchdown run on the opening play of the fourth quarter to break a tie, as the Express pulled away late for a 42-22 victory over the Patriots in the championship game Friday night at Union-Endicott’s Ty Cobb Stadium.

Elmira (9-0) avenged last year’s 56-22 loss to Binghamton in the title game and advances to play the Section 3 champion in a state quarterfinal game next Saturday at Ty Cobb Stadium.

Friday’s contest was a rematch of the teams’ regular-season finale, won by Elmira, 32-14, to secure the top seed and first-round bye in the Section 4 Class AA playoffs.

This was a much more competitive affair, especially through three quarters as the teams were knotted at 22 entering the fourth quarter following Binghamton freshman quarterback John Petrucci’s 18-yard touchdown pass to Bryan Morrison midway through the third quarter. However, things changed quickly over the final 12 minutes.

On third-and-1 from the Elmira 17, Thomas took a handoff and rushed toward the left edge of the line, breaking outside toward the sideline.

He broke into the clear, and then, when several Binghamton defenders appeared to have him boxed in near midfield, he cut it back toward the inside for clear sailing into end zone for the 83-yard score that gave Elmira a 28-22 lead with 11:43 remaining.

“My line gave me a hole, I did the easy part of hitting the hole,” said Thomas, trying to be modest. “I just kept looking for my blockers and they did it for me.”

Things went downhill after that for the Patriots (7-3). On their ensuing possession, Petrucci’s pass was intercepted by Thomas at the Elmira 39.

The Express took just five plays to score again. Set up inside the Binghamton 10 following a 56-yard pass play from Rasean Brooks to Kyrel Guinta, Elmira made it 36-22 when Jerry McPeak scored on a 9-yard run with 7:50 left.

Binghamton failed to pick up a first down on its following drive, and Elmira sealed it shortly thereafter when McPeak hauled in an 18-yard touchdown pass from Brooks with 5:41 left to go ahead 42-22.

Thomas rushed for a game-high 151 yards, adding rushing touchdowns of 1 and 2 yards to go along with a 75-yard punt return for a score.

““He’s a great athlete, he plays great offense and great defense,” said Binghamton coach Mike Ramil, whose team had won the previous two Section 4 Class AA titles. “They’re an explosive team, you can’t give them special-teams touchdowns and we got burned by the pass.

“We gave ourselves a chance, but they did what they needed to do.”

The game couldn’t have started better for Binghamton, which recovered a fumble on Elmira’s opening play from scrimmage.

Binghamton score a couple of minutes later when Petrucci tossed an 8-yard touchdown pass to Bryan Morrison for a 7-0 lead 2:05 into play.

Elmira struck back quickly, however. Thomas had a 45-yard run to the Binghamton 2, and two plays later he scored from 1 yard out, adding a two-point conversion run to put Elmira ahead 8-7 with 8:17 left in the first quarter.

Binghamton regained the lead later in the quarter, when Petrucci connected on a 14-yard touchdown pass to Joe Crowley to make it 14-8 with 4:22, but Elmira grabbed the halftime lead with a pair of second-quarter touchdowns.

The first of those came in spectacular fashion, as Thomas received a punt near the right sideline at the Elmira 25, cut back into the middle and weaved his way through traffic before breaking open for a 75-yard punt return that tied the score at 14 with 8:34 left.

Elmira took advantage of a turnover to get its final score of the first half, as Kevin Snyder intercepted a Petrucci pass and returned it to the Binghamton 34. Six plays later, Thomas scored on a 2-yard run to give Elmira a 22-14 lead with 39.1 seconds left in the second quarter.


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