When the football is in the hands of Rasheen Pettiford or Devin Young, good things seem to follow for Binghamton High’s football team.
Friday night was no different.
Pettiford and Young combined for four touchdowns to lead the Patriots to a 41-18 victory over visiting Corning in a Section 4 Class AA semifinal.
Pettiford might have dealt the most stinging blow to the Hawks on this chilly autumn evening, taking a first-quarter punt back 77 yards and doing so in eye-opening fashion. That play, and the second of five successful extra points by Austin Becker-Harris, put the Pats up, 14-0, a lead that grew to 28-6 by halftime.
Next up for Binghamton (7-2) is the Class AA final this coming Friday against the winner of Saturday’s Horseheads-Elmira tilt.
A hectic first quarter featured four turnovers — two by each side — and three Binghamton touchdowns.
The Patriots’ first scoring drive came after Sam Maddi recovered a botched option pitch, giving Binghamton possession at its 37.
One play later, Eric Fortner zipped through the interior line, gaining 33 of his 99 yards rushing yards. On the next play, quarterback John Petrucci hit Young on a hitch to the left side, and the speedy Young weaved his way down the sideline for a 25-yard scoring play with 8 minutes, 36 seconds left in the first quarter.
After the team’s exchanged interceptions — the first by Binghamton’s Ha’Seen Reid and the second by Corning’s Danny Madden — a Hawks drive stalled at their 37. The ensuing punt bounced in front of Pettiford and for a moment it looked as if he might let it go. Instead, Pettiford fielded the bouncing the ball at the 23 and started right. He stiff-armed a defender before finding a seam, accelerated though it, picked up some blocks and continued on his way for a 77-yard scoring play.
“I scoop it up every time,” Pettiford said. “There’s no poison or anything to me. I just run the ball because I know I’m going to make plays.”
Added Binghamton coach Mike Ramil: “We’re lucky. We’re blessed with two to three playmakers and they do what they do and you try to stay out of their way and let them do their thing.”
Corning (5-4) punted again on its next possession and Binghamton took over at its 10. Young rushed for 27 yards on the drive’s second play. One play later, Pettiford caught a deflected ball on the right side and gained 15 yards to Corning’s 37.
Petrucci then faked a give to Young, exploited a huge hole on the left side and scored as Binghamton took a 21-0 lead with 24.9 seconds left in the quarter.
The Hawks, 41-34 losers to Binghamton two weeks ago, answered on the first play of the second quarter, when John Dobson hit Mike Rossi in stride on a crossing route on the right side, and Rossi sprinted up the sideline for an 84-yard touchdown that closed Corning’s deficit to 21-6.
But back came Binghamton in five plays. Young carried on the first two for 32 yards, Pettiford carried on the last two after receiving shotgun snaps, the last a 12-yarder off the right side for a score that made it 28-6.
Equally important to Binghamton’s play on the offensive side on this night was the play of its defense. Corning ran it 49 times and 14 of those plays went for negative yardage. The Hawks continually tried to get outside but had little success.
“I think they did a great job swarming to the ball, getting 11 hats to the ball and that’s what great defenses do,” said Corning coach George Bacalles, whose squad dealt with numerous injuries, including standout running back Devon Sullivan (ankle). “They were able to get multiple hats to the ball.”
Most conspicuous among Pats defenders was junior Raymond Johnson, who had four tackles for losses, including a sack, and Reid, who finished with two interceptions.
“I have to congratulate my teammates because they allowed me to come from the back side and make tackles,” Johnson said.
Fortner had a 9-yard touchdown in the third quarter and Young capped his 133-yard rushing night (on six carries) with a 49-yard TD run in the fourth quarter.
The Hawks scored a pair of fourth-quarter touchdowns, the first on a 14-yard run by Yasir Muhammad and the latter on a 1-yarder by Dobson with seconds remaining.
“I’m very proud of our kids,” said Bacalles, whose team won the Section 4 Class AA title last season. “To lose as many kids as we did last year and to have a winning record is an accomplishment.”
The Pats will take a four-game winning streak into next week’s title game.
“We’re going to have to stop Elmira, stop the Express,” Pettiford said of an 8-0 Elmira squad. “We have to stop that train.”
On Twitter: @PSBRob