The Harpursville Hornets couldn’t keep their magical season alive on Saturday night, losing 30-15 to the Groton Indians in the Section 4 Class D semifinals at Binghamton Alumni Stadium.
Riding a seven-game winning streak, Harpursville made the kind of costly mistakes that it avoided all season. The Hornets turned the ball over four times, including two costly fumbles by Mason Dean and Steven Lee.
“We just made too many mistakes,” said Harpursville coach Tim Petras. “We took too many penalties, some of which were questionable, and turnovers. When you have (four) turnovers and they have zero, and they play good fundamental football, it’s tough to win games.”
The turning point of the game came midway through the second quarter. With Groton leading 12-7, Groton’s Jeff Hatfield threw a wobbly pass toward the sideline that was dropped by Dean. Had the senior co-captain come up with the interception, he would have had easy sailing for the go-ahead score.
Groton scored two plays later on a 75-yard touchdown scamper by Zeke Wright, putting the Indians in front 18-7.
Dean finished with 124 rushing yards on 23 carries, but he fumbled away the ball with 3:01 remaining in the game with Harpursville down, 24-15.
“You always feel like you let the team down when you make an error,” said Dean. “I had a fumble late in the game and I feel like we could’ve scored on that drive.”
Lee finished with 99 rushing yards, but fumbled at the Indians’ 5-yard line in the second quarter with his team trailing 18-7. The junior appeared to be down before losing control of the ball, which was recovered by Groton.
“I don’t want to make excuses, but I think we were in agreement that it was a questionable call,” Petras said. “I guess our objection was all the questionable calls seemed to go in favor of Groton. Maybe it was having a Finger Lakes crew, maybe we should have had an impartial crew…we didn’t seem to catch any breaks.”
The Hornets finished with their first winning record since the 1980s.
Wright finished with a game-high 188 yards and two touchdowns on 22 attempts. Harpursville crowded the line with nine defenders for much of the game, but Wright was able to find creases on the interior and use his speed to gain the edge outside. Fullback Joey Scaglione picked up 63 yards to complement Wilson.
The Indians will play Tioga for the Class D championship at 5 p.m. Friday at Union-Endicott High School.