In a matchup featuring two Class AA North rivals and playoff implications on the line, the Williamsville North Spartans defeated the Niagara-Wheatfield Falcons by a score of 49-14.
For the Spartans, the victory helped the team clinch the second seed in its division and will await its next opponent in the first round of the playoffs.
“I’m really proud of these guys because they worked their tails off tonight “, Spartans coach Mike Mammoliti said. “They have tremendous resolve and they don’t get rattled. At one point (the Falcons) started to get some momentum back, but our guys wouldn’t quit and they played hard and physical until the end.”
On the flip side, the debut of lights at Terry Harvey Field – and a raucous crowd celebrating the Falcons’ first home night game – did little to help the Falcons’ fortunes on the gridiron, resulting in a missed playoff berth.
“Plain and simple, we weren’t good enough tonight,” Falcons coach Russ Nixon said. “They were better than us tonight in every phase of the game, and it came back to bite us in the end.”
The Spartans kicked off the scoring midway through the first quarter with a 14-yard rushing touchdown by Dylan Mann. Five minutes later, Joe Nusall completed a 29-yard pass to Jacob Orlando to put the Spartans up 14-0, and Ivan Ghemmenge punched in another score from five yards out a short while later to help his team gain a three-touchdown lead.
However, the Falcons wouldn’t go away quietly. Jordan Parks hit paydirt on a seven-yard quarterback sneak to put his team on the board and each team traded scores early in the third quarter via Orlando’s second touchdown and another rushing touchdown by Parks.
But the straw that broke the camel’s back came on the Spartans’ next drive. Dylan Kelly snagged a 37-yard pass in the end zone – Nusall’s third passing touchdown of the contest – to give the Spartans another three-touchdown lead. Mann added his second rushing touchdown of the game and Austin Mann cashed in from 47 yards away for the Spartans’ final score.
“We knew it was going to be a tough environment to go into, especially since it was Niagara-
Wheatfield’s homecoming game too,” Nusall said. “The good news is, we really executed well in every phase of the game. Usually when you do that, you win, and that’s what happened tonight.”
Mammoliti praised Nusall’s efforts, calling him the Spartans’ “Steady Eddie”.
“Joe’s a smart kid and got us out of some bad plays by calling some great audibles tonight,” Mammoliti said. “He made some big plays for us and he leads this offense well. We go as he goes.”
Next up for the Spartans are the playoffs, and no matter who they face off against in the first round, Mammoliti still wants his team to adhere to an old cliché – one game at a time.
“It’s win or go home, but our saying around here is the most important game is the next one,” Mammoliti said. “We can’t look too far ahead and start thinking about what other teams are going to do against us, because if you do that, you’re going to get in trouble. We’re going to worry about what we can control, and we’ll be ready next week.”
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