BY TIM TAYLOR
Tioga County Sports Report
NEWARK VALLEY — Saturday's season opener between Newark Valley and Windsor would evolve into a game of big plays. Unfortunately for the Cardinals, that would favor the visitors more and they would go on to post a 44-29 victory.
"We knew that one of the biggest threats of their offense was their big play capability and it was today, and they made more than we did," NV coach Ted Hardenstine said.
The first big play to go the Black Knights' way was a bad snap on a punt attempt in the first quarter. It would only result in two points as the ball sailed over Brenton Rosenberg's head and he would kick the ball out if the end zone for a safety. with 3:50 left in the opening period.
That would set up a Windsor TD on the ensuing possession, five-play, 54-yard drive highlighted by Ethan Reed's 39-yard pass to Jack Beattie. With 1:24 left in the quarter, Dave Flora scored oin a 6-yard run for an 8-0 lead.
Raidyn Ford gave the NV offense its first big play when he darted 82 yards down the Cardinal sideline to set up a first-and-goal at the five. Two plays later, he scored form four yards out. An offside penalty on the PAT allowed NV to go for two and the score was tied at eight with 5:07 left in the half.
The Knights next series resulted in a 46-yard TD as Reed found Flora wide open to give Windsor a 16-8 lead then, following a three-and-out, Windsor started moving again. As time was winding down, Reed bolted for 42 yards into NV territory, but an opportunity to extend the lead ended when the Cardinals' Jake Armstrong pounced on a Reed fumble.
The second half started with an exchange of punts, then the Knights extended their advantage to 22-8 on Reed's 4-yard run at 5:05 of the third quarter.
Undaunted, the Cardinals responded with a big play of their own, a 48-yard Mikey Wandell-to-Ford strike for a TD. Dawson Moncalari's PAT kick closed the gap to 22-15 with 2:05 remaining in the period.
Windsor's Max Kinner jumped on an onside kick at midfield and three plays later, Reed found Hunter Platner in the end zone for a 15-yard TD and a 28-15 lead.
NV retaliated with a TD just 29 seconds into the fourth quarter as Rosenberg connected with Armstrong for a 34-yard score and Moncalari's kick made it a one-possession game at 28-22.
However, Reed had found his running legs and dashed 49 yards to the NV 9. Two plays later, Griffin Dillenbeck took it in from the four and Reed's PAT pass to Flora increased the Knights' lead to 36-22.
Again, the Cardinals refused to give in and Wandell hooked up with Armstrong on a 49-yard pass to set up a first-and-goal at the seven. Two plays later, Wandell hit Josh Post in the back of the end zone for a 9-yard TD. Moncalari's kick made it 36-29 and there was still 5:51 left to play.
Kinner would recover another onside kick and four plays later, Reed would score on a 10-yard run and the lead would be 44-29. with 3:08 to go, Beattie came away with an interception and Windsor ran out the clock.
The Cardinal defense yielded 215 rushing yards to Reed and another 103 to Dillenbeck, but stuffed the duo during an impressive goal line stand in the first quarter. The Knights drove down to set up a first and goal at the 10, but on third-and-1 NV stuffed Reed and on fourth-and-one shut the door on Dillenbeck.
That led to a drive which crossed midfield on a 26-yard Ford run, only to have the play wiped out by a holding call. Two plays later, Windsor had its first points of the game.
Meanwhile, Ford finished the game with 120 yards rushing on 12 carries and another 48 yards receiving. Armstrong had three receptions for 88 yards. Wandell was 6-for-12 for 124 yards.
"It wasn't the way we wanted to start the year, obviously, but we have some stuff to build on," Hardenstine said. "We had a lot of inexperienced guys out there today and they got a lot of experience today, so I think it's going to make us stronger as the year goes on. We're going to learn from the mistakes and we're going to get better."
In addition to his 200-plus rushing yards, Reed also went 7-for-10 for 170 yards through the air.
"We have a lot of stuff to work on on defense," Hardenstine said. "It really comes down to we need to continue to play our fundamental techniques on defense as far as the front seven; tackling better, making sure the guys are making their run fits on a fundamentally sound way. And the bottom line is make some plays. When you're there for a play you've got make the play.
"I have a lot of confidence these guys are going to get better. They're going to see it on film, they're going to learn and play faster."
Newark Valley travels to Tioga (1-0) night. The Tigers won a 23-20 thriller over rival Walton.
IN PHOTO 1: NV's Raidyn Ford. ... PHOTOS BY TIM TAYLOR.
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