Weekly Feature



2016-10-19 / Sports

Jacks get 16th consecutive TNT win

Sports Reporter
TAYLOR NIGRELLI


Joe Dotterweich fights off Tonawanda defenders to gain a first down during Friday’s 41-18 victory in the annual TNT rivalry game. 
Photo by Jake FrenchPurchase color photos at www.BeeNews.com Joe Dotterweich fights off Tonawanda defenders to gain a first down during Friday’s 41-18 victory in the annual TNT rivalry game. Photo by Jake FrenchPurchase color photos at www.BeeNews.com North Tonawanda sweated out its 16th consecutive TNT game victory over Tonawanda Friday night. While the scoreboard showed a 41-18 win for the Lumberjacks, the game was certainly closer than that throughout.

The game was within nine late in the fourth quarter before North Tonawanda put its cross-town rival away with two scores in the final 5:43 of the game.

“It was sticky for a while, but we prevailed and that was the main thing,” North Tonawanda coach Henry Fumerelle said.

The game was a defensive struggle early on as a Joe Dotterweich touchdown was the only score of the first quarter. Dotterweich would score again early in the second quarter from 22 yards out to give the Lumberjacks a 14-0 lead.

But the Warriors didn’t disappear or wither away. They came back downfield and scored on a 17-yard run by Ethan Shattuck to cut the deficit to 14-6. Less than 90 seconds of game time later, Zach Woodard responded with a 55-yard keeper for the Lumberjacks to go up 21-7. Two minutes before halftime, Brandon Roe took in a 10-yard screen pass for a score. The conversion attempt was no good and North Tonawanda went to the half up 21-12.

The first half was certainly closer than many would have expected. Roe, Shattuck and quarterback

Zach Sajdak gave the Lumberjack defense all kinds of issues.

“Yeah, I was happy with our run game. Shattuck and Sajdak really ran the ball well,” Tonawanda coach Joe Kelly said. “It was our plan to show Roe and then go away from him and it worked. Then we saw on film, they had some trouble covering the pass. So we threw on them.”

“Defensively in the first half, we were getting so much penetration and then the quarterback was slipping out on us,” Fumerelle said. “That was hurting us. We made a few adjustments at half and that settled that down. We turned over the ball and that kind of kept them in the game, and we had big penalties that hurt us a lot.


Ethan Shattuck dives for the pylon and scores as Patrick Milbrand attempts to bring him down. The Warriors put forth a strong effort, but fell 41-18 Friday night. 
Photo by Jake FrenchPurchase color photos at www.BeeNews.com Ethan Shattuck dives for the pylon and scores as Patrick Milbrand attempts to bring him down. The Warriors put forth a strong effort, but fell 41-18 Friday night. Photo by Jake FrenchPurchase color photos at www.BeeNews.com “We came in at half and the guys seemed kind of down. I told them we were up two scores. We’re not going to blow everyone out. Take it one play at a time. Don’t worry about scoring a bunch of points.”

Early in the second half, Chris Labonte took a hand-off 46 yards for a North Tonawanda touchdown, moving the lead to 27-12. The Warriors came right back with a 42-yard touchdown run by Sajdak to move within 27-18.

The score would remain that way for about 12 minutes of game time, with the Warriors fighting tooth and nail to stay in the game. The Lumberjacks would finally score again when Marcellus Overton took the ball into the end zone from 10 yards out. A successful PAT made the score 34-18. Dotterweich would add a third touchdown with 17 seconds left in the game to take a 41-18 lead.

“We’ve talked about three factors to win football games,” Fumerelle said. “Those are time of possession, eliminate the turnovers and don’t give up the big plays. We didn’t have that mental sharpness early. Those are the things we need to focus on and do better for the playoffs.”

The loss dropped Tonawanda to 2-5 on the season, but served as a positive in some ways. The team should receive a confidence boost for the effort it put up against one of the area’s best Class A teams.

“That was one of the best team games we’ve ever played,” Shattuck said. “Even though we lost, it doesn’t matter. That was the hardest game we’ll play all year. It was also the most exciting game and the game we played the most together. We had the best week in practice, everyone showed up, no one came late. Everyone came together, no one broke down, no one was tired.

“That’s the word in the locker room right now. If we can hold up against this team, we can beat almost any team in our league. We just have to come together and do it.”

North Tonawanda moved to 5-2 with the win. The Lumberjacks were able to fend off a tough challenge from their rivals while also maintaining an impressive win streak over the Warriors.

“The streak is getting kind of crazy, but I’m glad we were able to maintain it,” Fumerelle said. “We didn’t talk much about the streak. We talked about what Tonawanda does well, we scouted them well. We watched tape on them. We know it’s a big game for the school, town and community, so we wanted them to play their ‘A’ game.”

They went into the game knowing full well it would be tougher than playing your average 2-4 team. Rivalry games have a way of brining out the best in underdogs.

“It was a rivalry game so it’s always going to be close, but we put up a good fight,” North Tonawanda tight end Alex Johnson said. “We blew a couple leads early on in the season. I like to think we never learn the same lesson twice. We learned not to blow a lead.”

The Jacks will next take on Iroquois in the Class A quarterfinals this weekend while the Warriors will take on East Aurora/Holland in the Chuck Funke Memorial Classic.

“I’m proud of my team,” Kelly said. “They played harder than they have all year. I just hope they play as hard in the next two games as well.”

email: tnigrelli@beenews.com

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