BY TIM TAYLOR
Tioga County Sports Report
BINGHAMTON — Owego hung around for a while, but eventually Chenango Forks' ground-pounding offense gobbled up the yards and racked up the points to post a 42-7 Section IV Division II victory in the season opener Friday night.
As expected, Blue Devils fullback Lucas Scott handled the brunt of the duties, carrying the pigskin a workmanlike 34 times for 207 yards and four touchdowns.
Despite that effort, Owego head coach Steve Virkler was quick to praise the unsung heroes who manned the trenches for CF.
"He's a beast, but there's six, seven guys in front of him who did some pretty good things too, and that was really the difference in my opinion," he said. "We were getting moved up front, didn't tackle well and they took advantage of it. We just didn't stop them."
Forks focused on neutralizing the Indians' top player, Gio Fabi, frequently throwing multiple blockers at the hard-hitting defensive lineman.
"We tried to move him around a little bit," Virkler said. "We moved him when they were kind of going away from him a little bit, but if guys up front are getting pushed back it's tough from a defensive standpoint."
Early on, a one-sided final didn't seem possible as it was a 7-7 standoff through the first 15 minutes.
Forks went up 7-0 on a 16-yard run by Scott with one minute left in the opening period, but Owego responded with a 1-yard plunge by quarterback Nick Wasyln 10 seconds into the second quarter. Nate Bennett's PAT kick tied things up.
On the ensuing possession, a 15-yard face mask penalty gave CF the ball at the Owego 20. Scott took it in from six yards out two plays later and Forks went up for good with 8:59 remaining in the half.
Still, things were looking bright for the Indians when Wasyln hit Ben Miller with a short pass that Miller turned into a 28-yard gain. Unfortunately for Owego, a fumbled snap followed by a low snap turned the ball over on downs at the Forks 33.
The Devils turned it into an 11-play drive with Scott scoring on a 5-yard run. Dubbs Haqq's PAT kick went wide right and it was 20-7.
That 14-point deficit looked to get deeper when Scott dashed 47 yards to paydirt with 7.5 seconds left in the half, but the impressive TD run was nullified by a penalty.
Even though Forks was starting to dominate statistically, Owego was still in it at the onset of the second half, but that hole got deeper when CF chewed nearly half the third quarter off the clock with a 10-play, 65-yard drive. A 7-yard run by Lucas and Haqq's kick increased the home team's advantage to 28-7.
Owego shot itself in the foot on its next possession, but Ben Miller boomed a 63-yard punt down to the CF 4. The Devils turned it into a 10-play scoring drive as Jospeh toted the rock six times for 76 yards, finishing it up with a 12-yard TD run early in the fourth quarter fro a 35-7 lead.
The reserves came in and Forks added one more TD to make it 42-7, then Owego coughed up the ball at the CF 16 in the final seconds.
Both defenses started out looking solid. After an exchange of punts to start the game, CF's Jonathan Goodspeed recovered a loose ball at the Owego 30 when the snap sailed over Wasyln's head. However, Owego escaped disaster momentarily when Bennett pounced on a fumble at his own nine.
Forks would get it back at the Owego 27 on a shanked punt. That led to the game's first score, a 16-yard run by Lucas with one minute to go in the first quarter.
A 25-yard Nick-to-Michael Wasyln pass on the first play of the second period gave Owego a first-and-goal at the CF 1 and Nick Wasyln scored on the following play.
Other than that TD, the Indians struggled to get their offense on track all night, although Virkler expected the game to be closer.
"We knew it was going to be tough coming into it," Virkler said. "I was a little surprised to be honest with you."
Inconsistency in the center-QB exchange compounded Owego's problems.
"It's been a concern," Virkler said. "We've been working hard at it and it's gotten better, but it certainly disrupted our offense today and the timing of our offense. Hopefully we can clean that up because it definitely is a problem."
The Indians managed just 77 yards rushing and another 60 through the air. Miller had two receptions for 35 yards and Michael Wasyln caught one for 25. Miller (1-17), Nick Wasyln (11-17) Tyler Benjamin (3-15) and Cameron Doane (1-10) were Owego's top ground gainers.
Forks amassed 428 yards, all but 10 on the ground, as Joseph tacked on 110 yards on 10 carries and Haqq had 56 on seven runs.
"They just grind it out and the 12-, 15-play drives just take a toll on you. It certainly did on us," Virkler said.
Owego visits Norwich Friday.
IN PHOTO 1: Owego's Michael Wasyln ... PHOTOS BY TIM TAYLOR
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