On the day when members of Maine-Endwell’s undefeated football teams from 1962 and 1972 were in attendance, the current squad took one step closer to a perfect season.
However, Maine-Endwell played its closest game of the season, defeating visiting Elmira 41-16 to improve to 5-0 and increase its winning streak to 17 games. Senior running back/defensive back Luis Uceta ran for 110 yards and two touchdowns on just four carries to lead M-E’s quick-strike offense.
“Our offense looked very good,” M-E coach Matt Gallagher said. “Our defense did what they had to do. Elmira does a great job of running that offense. You don’t see it all the time, and you only get to practice it four or five days. I think with the time that we had, we were able to do a pretty good job stopping it.”
The average margin of victory in M-E’s first four wins was 48.5 points per game. M-E hadn’t allowed more than nine points in any of its three games since the season opener against Marcellus (54-19).
Elmira didn’t go quietly, amassing 249 yards rushing with its double-wing offense that sends a sea of pulling guards and tackles at the defense. Elmira also became the second team to score a touchdown against M-E’s starting defense this season.
Elmira sustained three drives of 10 plays or more in the first half, running 36 offensive plays compared to just 13 for M-E.
M-E didn’t need many plays to find the end zone. The Spartans drove 59 yards on three plays on opening drive, capped by Uceta’s 21-yard touchdown run for a 6-0 lead.
Elmira drove 59 yards on 12 plays on its ensuing possession, but the drive stalled when linebacker Nick Sorrenti tackled Kevin Snyder at the line of scrimmage on fourth-and-2 at the M-E 29-yard line. Uceta ran for a 71-yard touchdown run on the next play to give M-E a 14-0 lead after Josh Jacoby ran in the 2-point conversion.
Elmira penetrated even deeper on its next drive, but quarterback Nick Goetz tried to throw a screen pass under intense pressure and was intercepted by linebacker Darnell Woolfolk. Woolfolk cut across the field and returned the interception 75 yards for a touchdown to give M-E a 20-0 lead.
“They were moving the ball on us a little bit,” said Uceta. “It was unexpected because in most of the games we usually handle our defense well. This time we definitely made some adjustments and came out on top.”
In Uceta’s case, that meant he had a rare opportunity to take an active role in stopping the run.
“It was fun for me because, usually, I’m in the back and I don’t get a lot of tackles,” Uceta said.
M-E took a 27-0 lead to halftime following a 24-yard touchdown run by Jacoby with 1:13 remaining in the second quarter.
Elmira’s first drive of the second half stalled on its own 46-yard line, and Woolfolk blocked Goetz’s punt to give M-E possession at the Elmira 30.
M-E quarterback Kyle Gallagher capped the eight-play drive with a 5-yard play-action pass to a wide open Adam Gallagher in the corner of the end zone for a 34-0 lead.
Elmira’s Eric Williams (22 carries, 109 yards) scored from 2 yards out with 17 seconds remaining in the third quarter. Both teams added a touchdown in the fourth quarter.
“We pride ourselves on that smash-mouth kind of style,” Elmira coach Jimmy McCauley said. “I thought we did a great job of moving the ball up and down the field. We just kind of struggled once we got down in the red zone there. We couldn’t cash it in, but I thought our spirits were up. The biggest thing was our kids competed, and they really, really got after it.”