Chenango Forks made it four Section 4 football championships in a five-season span Saturday, manhandling Waverly in a 49-15 victory at Binghamton Alumni Stadium.
The third-ranked Blue Devils (9-1) produced the first 42 points and limited Waverly to 6 rushing yards as they earned a berth opposite General Brown or Watertown IHC in the quarterfinal round of Class C state playoffs noon Saturday at Union-Endicott.
Isaiah Zimmer added to his Most Valuable Player award collection, rushing for 219 yards and four first-half touchdowns. A punt by Zimmer concluded the Blue Devils’ first possession, and the next four ended with him toting the football across the goal line.
The Wolverines’ touchdowns came on the first play of the final quarter and on their last offensive play of the game, both on passes from Peyton Miller to Dylan Perry. Miller finished 15-for-26 for 170 yards — though 95 of those yards were generated after the deficit was of the six-TD variety.
“We knew we had to stuff everything up front as usual, and we knew we had to keep our backfield strong,” said Mike Zurenda, whose work in the middle of Forks’ defensive front earned him MVP on that side of the ball.
“Our defense played phenomenal today,” Blue Devils coach David Hogan said. “I don’t think any of us expected to play that well. We talked about getting pressure on (Miller) as well and I think we did that. Our D-backs and linebackers and corners, they just played great.”
Forks’ offensive front had the better of yet another overmatched opponent, springing Zimmer for 7½ yards per rush. Overall, 10 Blue Devils ball carriers averaged a collective 7.4 per attempt with three other than Zimmer adding a TD apiece.
A 1-yard TD rush by Zimmer with 1:47 remaining in the first quarter put Forks in front, and get a load of the defensive goings-on that led to the next three scores.
Waverly (7-3) took the football at its 35-yard line, was backed to the 28 and then lost a fumble that Forks recovered at the 33. Five plays later Zimmer finished an 11-yard inside rush by dragging Wolverines defender Colton Miller the final 5 or so yards across the line.
Waverly then went three-and-out, and a punt left Forks to set up at its 23. Zimmer carried on six of the seven plays on Forks’ scoring drive, that load featuring a 34-yard gain to the Wolverines’ 32 and a 13-yarder on which he lugged two or three defenders for an extra gain to the 3.
Zimmer’s third TD came over the right side from a yard out and it was 21-0 midway into the second quarter.
Waverly then advanced from its 42 to Forks’ 22 before Miller mishandled a fourth-and-10 snap from center and was felled 14 yards behind the line of scrimmage by Hunter Luybli.
What followed was a 64-yard Forks drive that included a heads-up option keeper by John Colm Sweeney that went for a 25-yard gain to Waverly’s 21. Zimmer’s final TD — and one of Tony Silvanic’s 7-for-7 PAT kicks — came 96 seconds before halftime and it was 28-0.
“We always say come out and set the tempo. We have to set our tempo and make them play up to us,” said Zimmer, who bumped his rushing total to a single-season program record 1,560 yards.
Each team punted on its first second-half possession, the second leaving Forks the football at its 12-yard line.
The nine-play drive that followed brought seven rushes by Zimmer for a 71-yard total and concluded with Ryan Bronson scooting 11 yards around the right side for a touchdown 6:35 into the third quarter.
Forks’ final third-quarter possession began at its 14-yard line and lasted just about two minutes. Consecutive gains by Bronson of 13 and 23 yards advanced the ball to Waverly’s 32-yard line, from which point Cody Lamond went 31 yards on first down and then the remaining 3 feet for the TD.
For Zimmer, Saturday brought his second consecutive game of 200-plus rushing yards and third of the season. Asked if his seemingly indestructibly teammate ever tires during a game, Zurenda said, “I don’t think so. He’s a very good athlete.”
Zimmer said: “2,000 by the end of the year. That’s what I want.”
That would seemingly require three ballgames, which would mean the program’s first berth in a state championship game since 2007.
“Last year we fell short of the state championship and being a senior this year and a captain I’ve really got to step up, set an example, keep our players focused and show them that that is our goal and we can’t fall short this year,” Zimmer said.
The 49-point output marked Forks’ fifth time reaching at least that total this season, and improved the Devils’ per-game average to 42.8 — even despite that shutout loss at Tioga in Week 2.