Another Greece Athena football season was in Tavon Granison’s hands.
That’s going to happen, because Granison is Athena’s quarterback. His role was underlined by some drama late Saturday afternoon.
Athena was down by one point with 2 minutes, 33 seconds remaining, so the Trojans needed some type of score or Granison and his teammates would be eliminated from the Section V Class A Tournament. The team trying to stop the Trojans offense, 61 yards away from the end zone? None other than Irondequoit, the team that turned back Athena in last season’s Section V Class A final.
“You know, at the end of the game we have to go play by play,” Granison said. “We have players on our team that can score from any spot on the field. We might bend a little bit, we might get tackled in the backfield or throw an incompletion.
“But our coach always preaches, bend but don’t break. So in the last drive we had to go play by play. It worked out in our favor.”
Granison took off for the end zone late in the fourth quarter and landed across the goal line with 39.6 seconds remaining, the winning score in the Trojans’ 35-28 win over Irondequoit at Athena,
After the Trojans tacked on two points, the team’s defense stopped Irondequoit near the Athena 6-yard line on the final play of the first-round tournament game.
It is on to the semifinals for No. 3 seed Athena (6-2) , where the Trojans play No. 2 Canandaigua (6-2), 4 p.m. on Halloween at Sahlen’s Stadium in Rochester. No. 6 Irondequoit finished with a 4-4 record after an 0-2 start.
“It was a battle of wills,” Irondequoit coach Dan Fichter said. “This is really tough, but these guys (at Irondequoit), go down to the wire. That’s what is great about these guys.”
The Eagles failed on their first two conversion attempts after touchdowns, but took their only lead with 2:33 remaining. Irondequoit’s running game looked good most of the afternoon, and it was freshman Frederick June Jr. who scored on a 20-yard run and during the two-point conversion to put the Eagles on top, 28-27.
A short kickoff gave Athena the ball at its 39. Granison was sacked during Athena’s final offensive drive, but he also completed an 11-yard pass to junior Kyle Benham on third-and-2 at the Athena 43. An 18-yard pass to Kenny Speed later converted a fourth-and-11 for the Trojans.
“We didn’t panic,” Benham said. “We just knew that we had to do what we were doing all game, just keep driving forward.
‘We were getting a good push each drive. We didn’t have to panic, just finish.”
Five plays after Speed’s reception, including a pass in the middle of the field that was tipped and almost intercepted, Athena had the ball on the Irondequoit 4. Granison took the snap in a shotgun formation, ran to his right and launched himself into the air.
“The call was just a keep right,” Granison said. “Usually, I’m supposed to go to the outside, but pre-snap I was going to go to the left. It looked like we had a better number (matchup) on the left, but I didn’t want to (change) the game plan completely, so I ran to the right.
“I seen the blitzing linebacker did his job, and contained the outside, so I cut in. I seen two guys, and I was going to try and lower my shoulder and use my momentum to get me into the end zone. But I knew there were two (there), and maybe I would go back, so I just jumped up.”
The Eagles tried to jump up and snatch the win away. A long pass to Ty’Sean Sizer put the ball at the Athena 6 with nine-tenths of a second remaining. Frederick Jr. took the next snap in shotgun formation, faked a handoff, but there was nowhere to run.
“We had run that play all day, chewing up yards,” Fichter said. “It was our best play, with our best guys.”