Chenango Forks turned two critical miscues by Greene into second-quarter touchdowns Friday night in a 22-14 victory that figures to loom large in the Section 4 Football Conference’s Division V title chase.
The second of the two came on a 37-yard pass from John Colm Sweeney to Cody DeOrdio 18.4 seconds before halftime, and Isaiah Zimer’s two-point run — from 1½ yards courtesy of a Trojans penalty — made for a 22-8 Blue Devils advantage.
Though limited to a single first down until the final couple minutes of second-half play, Forks improved to 4-0 overall and 1-0 in Division V. Greene (3-1, 0-1) absorbed its first regular-season loss since Week 8 of the 2010 season.
Fullback Isaiah Zimmer closed with 113 rushing yards and Colm Sweeney with 69 passing yards on two completions for Forks, which trailed by 8-6 before capitalizing on the first significant Greene blunder.
The Trojans fumbled away the football on second down and Forks’ Ryan Bronson recovered at the hosts’ 7-yard line 2:44 into the second quarter — after a 43-yard punt by Zimmer had shoved Greene back at its 9.
The last of three successive carries by Zimmer went inside and covered 1 yard for a TD, and Jake Green made an exceptional lunging reception of Colm Sweeney’s two-point pass just inside the right boundary for a 14-8 advantage.
The Trojans’ next crack at a tying score went south when, on a fourth-and-6 play from the Blue Devils’ 7-yard line, Jeremy Flohr made a leaping grab of a pass from Joe Beckwith, only to descend on white paint outside the back of the end zone.
That left Forks 93 yards to cover in 4:05 remaining before halftime.
The Devils advanced to Greene’s 37-yard line in 10 plays, most helpful of which was a 31-yard, third-and-8 gain by Green on a toss play toward the home sideline. That marked his second third-down conversion of the drive.
The touchdown was a perfect stunner — to both sidelines as well as those making up what was judged to be the largest assemblage of spectators for a Greene game in recent memory.
Colm Sweeney scooted to his right and had a look while defenders pressed, only to set his feet and let fly in the direction of DeOrdio, who’d inexplicably freed himself a dozen or so yards behind the nearest defender. He made the catch without incident and gratefully zipped the remaining 20 or so yards across the goal line.
“I don’t know, they covered the slotback that went in motion and I found myself wide open,” DeOrdio said. “JC threw me the ball and we connected for a touchdown. I was pretty surprised that I was completely open, but it worked out so we’ll take it.”
Said Forks coach David Hogan: “We had practiced this pass play for the last couple of weeks. We felt it was an opportune time to give the play a try and fortunately for us, it worked out.”
As for just why it worked out with such astonishing ease? “I’m not so sure,” he said. “Very fortunate. It was a big play just before the half and if we didn’t get that, who knows what would have happened?”
Greene coach Tim Paske said: “We had a missed assignment. But, hey, it’s things we were working on all week, we just didn’t get there. That happens, we’ll grow from it.”
Greene defenders were clearly bent on denying red helmets passage anywhere near the goal line after halftime.
The first three Forks possessions went three-and-out, and go ahead and identify when was the last time that happened.
Thing was, Blue Devils defenders seemed near-equally stubborn, and on the first play after a scoreless third quarter DeOrdio intercepted a third-and-20 pass to give Forks possession at its 17-yard line.
Greene’s final possession began at its 33-yard line with 6:50 remaining and concluded with Trevor Parrish rushing 3 yards for a score to make it 22-14 with 3:03 remaining. The drive-maker on that one was an exquisitely executed collaboration from Beckwith to Flohr that went for 41 yards down the home sideline.
Forks, so offensively challenged to that point in the second half, needed a little something to tuck away the win — and got it in the form of rushes by Bronson (once) and Zimmer (twice) that went for first downs.
“We weren’t moving the ball an inch in the second half and all of sudden we tell them that we need to get a few first downs to seal it, and fortunately we were able to do that,” said Hogan, whose team avenged last season’s 21-0 loss to Greene.
The Trojans’ first TD was a 9-yard, fourth-down rush by Mike Beckwith in the final minute of the opening quarter.