NEW HARTFORD – In a tight Class B East tussle, all three phases came up big for Oneida.
Oneida’s defense made huge stops at the end of each half and the Indians made crucial conversions on offense to set up Henry Froass’ 23-yard field goal with 1:58 remaining for a big 10-7 victory over the New Hartford Spartans at Don Edick Field.
“It felt great helping the team win,” Froass said of his field goal. “That is the main goal. My number got called and the pressure didn’t get to me. It was a great snap and great hold and I was able to make it. I couldn’t ask for anything better.”
To secure the victory, Oneida’s defense needed one more stop. After the teams traded personal foul penalties, the Spartans moved into Oneida territory before the Indians defense stiffened. After two incompletions and a 3-yard loss on a scramble, New Hartford faced a fourth-and-13 from its own 49-yard line with 36.2 seconds remaining and no timeouts.
In desperation mode, New Hartford quarterback Joe Murray was pressured out of the pocket and his pass toward the left sideline was intercepted by Scott Potter at the 40 and returned all the way to New Hartford’s 22-yard line with 22 seconds remaining.
“We stressed all week to keep fighting, never stop fighting,” Oneida head coach Jason Fuller said. “Our last drive we knew we had a good field goal kicker and also knew our defense was playing very well, so we decided to kick it and trust our defense to finish it … and that’s what we did. This was a big win and I’m really proud of the kids.”
Junior quarterback/fullback Ryan Chevier threw for 63 yards and rushed for 48, including a 1-yard touchdown that knotted the score at 7-7 midway through the second quarter. Froass had 47 scrimmage yards, and Lukas Albro rushed for 48 yards, and his 11-yard catch and run on 4th-and-8 extended the game-winning drive for the Indians (1-1).
Blake Hobin rushed for 138 yards and his 1-yard touchdown in the second quarter gave the Spartans (1-1) a brief 7-0 lead. Murray rushed for 63 yards for New Hartford, which controlled the first half, but was unable to convert promising drives into points.
The Spartans were close to breaking the 7-7 tie just before the break. Mixing in runs from Hobin, Murray and a few from freshman Anthony Campola, New Hartford marched from its own 35-yard line to deep inside Oneida territory.
New Hartford gained a first-and-goal, and after three Hobin runs, the Spartans faced a 4th-and-goal from the 2-yard line. With the clock ticking under 10 seconds, Murray’s pass to the end zone was incomplete and Oneida took over and ran out the final 3.8 seconds.
“The big momentum play in the game was when we had a chance to score before the half and we didn’t,” said New Hartford head coach Jim Kramer, who grew up in Oneida and played for the Indians. “But (Oneida) played well. The Albro kid came in with the option and made some plays. We were prepared for it, but he still made plays.”
In the second half, the Oneida defense stifled New Hartford’s run game. After rushing for 166 in the opening half, the Spartans were held to just 45 rushing yards in the final 24 minutes.
“We stopped their big guys and they got tired,” said Albro, who also is a starter at cornerback. “We outworked them and got it done.”
In the second half it was Oneida who squandered chances at breaking the tie. The Indians twice marched deep into New Hartford territory before mistakes thwarted drives. Early in the third quarter, Chevier’s pass was picked off by New Hartford defensive back Cormack McIntosh at the 10-yard line.
Two drives later, Oneida marched 55 yards and on a fourth-and-2 from New Hartford’s 10-yard line, miscommunication on the snap caused a fumble and the Spartans took over on downs.
The Indians stopped the Spartans and forced a punt, but Kramer rolled the dice and his gamble to fake the punt seemed to pay as the short snap was handed to Jayden Henry, who ran for 20 yards and a key first down. However, a holding call forced another punt and set up Oneida’s winning drive.
“We had too many mental mistakes,” said New Hartford senior defensive end/center Niko Policelli. “Some missed assignments and too many penalties. We didn’t play as good as we could and we have to live with it.”
Oneida took over at New Hartford’s 37-yard line and gained a first down on two runs by Albro. A few plays later, the Indians were able to come up with the biggest offensive play of the game. Facing a 4th-and-8 from the 24-yard line, Chevier found Albro in the right flat and the 5’5”, 150-pounder turned upfield and powered for the first down at the 13-yard line.
“We were able to catch them where they were not,” Albro said. “I was able to make the catch and get to the first down marker.”
Four plays later, Froass gave the Indians their first lead.
Chevier believed they would have success offensively as the game progressed.
“Our coach was saying that we need to keep hammering them because they have a lot of players playing both ways,” Chevier said. “It paid off on that last drive.”
Linebacker Nikita Lamakin led the Spartans with 14 tackles.
Kramer liked the effort his team showed throughout and knows his team has plenty of work to do in getting ready for another tough Class B East home game next Friday night.
“We played good defense all game,” Kramer said. “Our kids fought and played hard every play. I have to do a better job of getting us in better position to succeed. We’ll go back to work and get ready for another tough opponent (Mexico) next week.”
Oneida hosts Central Valley at 6:30 Friday night in its home opener.
Oneida 10, New Hartford 7
Oneida 0 7 0 3—10
New Hartford 0 7 0 0—7
NH—Blake Hobin 1 run (Cormac McIntosh kick)
O—Ryan Chevier 1 run (Henry Froass kick)
O—Froass 23 field goal