SYRACUSE, NY (WUTR/WFXV/WPNY) — Rocco Martino was determined to get a measure of redemption for the Frankfort-Schuyler Maroon Knights, and that’s what he got. The quarterback got the last three scores for the Maroon Knights to win an overtime thriller over West Canada Valley, 56-50. It is the Knights’ first sectional championship at the eight-man level.
Frankfort-Schuyler got on the board right away after forcing a West Canada Valley punt just seven plays into the game. Senior Lionell Coulthurst found a hole and rumbled 70 yards for the game’s opening touchdown.
West Canada Valley would not be denied on their second drive, however, taking advantage of runs from quarterback Sean Burdick and wide receiver Cam Ludwig to move down to the goal line in just five plays. Burdick would finish off the drive with an 8-yard touchdown pass to Ian Farber, then run the conversion in himself to give his team an 8-6 lead.
Knights quarterback Martino Rocco would get 58 of the team’s 67 yards on the next drive, mostly with his feet, capped off with a 44-yard run to set them up for the lead. However, a pass to Joshua Stemmer would fall short on fourth down to keep the score at 8-6 as the first quarter ended. West Canada Valley would then embark on a 15-play drive that took the rest of the first quarter, going over seven minutes. Helped by a bruising 20-yard reception by Farber in the second quarter, Burdick would extend their lead on a quarterback sneak up the middle to give West Canada Valley a 10-point lead.
The back-and-forth would continue, though, as Coulthurst got the last 32 yards of the next drive — 18 receiving, 14 running, plus the two-point conversion — to cut the lead to just two. The connection between Burdick and Ludwig would extend the lead again on the net drive for West Canada Valley, on a 34-yard pitch-and-catch between the two to bring the lead back up to eight. Ludwig would then stop the next Maroon Knights’ drive after just two plays by ripping the ball away from a Frankfort-Schuyler receiver.
Burdick capped off the ensuing drive with passes of 43 and 44 yards — including a long throw to Ludwig — that doubled the West Canada Valley lead to 30-14 just before the half. The senior finished the half with 289 passing yards and four touchdowns. The quarterback on the other side — Rocco — would match Burdick on the next drive, however, smashing up the middle for a four-yard touchdown with just 20 seconds left in the half.
But with just five seconds left in the half, Burdick would find Ludwig again — this time for 37 yards — and cap off the desperation drive with a 3-yard throw to Farber to give West Canada Valley a 36-20 lead to end the quarter.
The Maroon Knights would come out swinging to start the second half, this time with Rocco’s arm. Rocco would find Jerome Bowen wide open down the sideline, and Bowen managed to drop the lead to just ten on a 71-yard run. Burdick would not be outdone, though, getting his fifth touchdown of the day on a 28-yard pass to junior John Tubia. Burdick threw for passes of 18 and 13 on the drive as well.
Frankfort-Schuyler answered right back just one play later, on yet another return score from Coulthurst. This time, he ran through several tackles en route to a 73-yard score that cut the lead to eight once again.
The shootout continued late in the third, after an injury to Burdick took him out of the game. Iain Farber would take over, running from the wildcat formation 39 yards brought the lead back to two touchdowns.
Frankfort-Schuyler would come roaring back, and Martino would be the star of the show in the final quarter, getting touchdowns of 32 and nine yards to tie the score at 50. The final drive was all Martino, as he ran on nine of the Maroon Knights’ last ten plays to send the game into overtime.
In overtime, it would take Martino just three runs — of six, nine and five — to give the Maroon Knights the sectional championship. They will go on to play in the regional championship at Waterville High School next weekend against the winner between the Section IV and Section VI champions.