IRONDEQUOIT — Three weeks ago the Newark and Geneva football teams squared off in a Finger Lakes East season finale.
The Reds handed the Panthers their first loss of the season that night and dashed their hopes of an outright Finger Lakes East title with a 20-7 victory. Instead, Geneva, Newark and ER/Gannda all share the crown.
On Saturday the familiar foes met again with a trip to the Section V Class B championship at stake.
With the rain falling steady all night, the third-seeded Panthers relied on a heavy rushing attack to bounce back from an 8-0 deficit and secure a 22-14 victory over the second-seeded Reds at Eastridge High School in a semifinal clash.
“Each year we set our goals to win the league and win in sectionals” Geneva coach Mike Pane said. “Last year we came up a little short on this stage and to be able to take it one step further but to get the win this time speaks volumes about these kids and the coaching staff.”
The Panthers will face another FL East opponent, the Wayne Eagles, Saturday in the Class B championship game. Kickoff is slated for 3:00 p.m. at Salen’s stadium in Rochester.
Freshman tailback Mark Suchewski lead the way for the Panthers, amassing 114 yards on 35 carries and a touchdown.
“Our offensive line did a great job and allowed for us to control the line of scrimmage,” Pane added.
The Reds got off to a hot start when senior Micah Wright reversed field on a sweep for a 55-yard highlight-reel touchdown run. A successful 2-point conversion put Newark up 8-0.
The Panthers responded midway through the second quarter with a 14 yard Suchewski touchdown scamper. The 2-point conversion was successful, tying the game at eight.
Momentum began to swing in favor of the Panthers late in the first half when they blocked a Newark punt which was recovered by Kweku Adakwa-Mason to set the Panthers up inside the opponents 13 yard line.
Two plays later quarterback Jack Wallwork connected with Dytalion Dennis on a 13 yard touchdown pass to give the Panthers a 15-8 advantage at the half.
“We noticed on film that we thought we could get after a punt,” Pane said. “Fortunately the kids executed that and it certainly turned the game a little bit.”
In the third quarter the Panthers put together a 15-play, 64 yard drive, capped off by an 11-yard touchdown pass from Wallwork to Malyk Daley-Pinkard. The score put the Panthers up 22-8 and drained 7:34 off the clock.
Midway through the fourth quarter Newark quarterback Phil Tack converted a lengthy third down in the redzone on a nifty scramble, setting up a 3-yard Ronel Rooks touchdown run. With a failed 2-point conversion, the Reds trailed 22-14.
Stifling defense and keep-away offense ended the chance of a Newark comeback.
“I told the kids when you know you did your best, you have nothing to be ashamed of,” Newark coach Mike McGavisk noted. And we certainly have nothing to be ashamed of. It was a really good season overall and I’m proud of the effort tonight, just not the result.”