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SECTION IV FOOTBALL: BIDWELL LEADS OWEGO TO VICTORY OVER CHENANGO VALLEY (2022-09-16)

By TIM TAYLOR
Tioga County Sports Report
BINGHAMTON — The youthful Owego football team committed its share of mistakes Friday night, but there was one constant in the Indians’ 29-13 Section IV victory over host Chenango Valley — Steven Bidwell.

The senior running back worked the CV defense for 215 yards on 20 carries and scored a pair of touchdowns to lead Owego to its first win of the season.

Bidwell is one of those athletes who is destined to fill a leadership role. He actually gives inspirational talks at the end of games — even before the coaches have their say.

“I think that's who he is,” Owego coach Steve Virkler said. “That's who he's been with us since he's come up as a sophomore. He just leads by example. He led all summer. He was in the weight room all summer. He’s just a positive influence and he's a great representation of our program and I'm just proud, happy for him to lead us and be able to do this today.”

Owego displayed some solid play in the first half to build a 14-0 lead, but Virkler thought the point margin could’ve been greater

“I thought we played okay in the first half,” he said. “I feel like it could have been maybe 28-0. We kind of left a couple out there with a couple missed blocks and a couple key penalties that hurt us. Then the third quarter was just crazy. That was it. I don't even know if we touched the ball over six plays.

“Building off that, we responded too. Defensively, we buckled down and got some stops and then we were able to punch it in there in the fourth quarter, get a couple late scores.”

As for Bidwell, he bolted for a 46-yard gain on the first play from scrimmage.

Two plays later, less than two minutes into the game, the Indians posted their first lead of the season when senior RB Cameron Card scored from six yards out and Adam Arbahl split the uprights with the PAT kick for a 7-0 lead.

A partially blocked punt on Owego’s second possession gave CV the ball at the Indians’ 34, but a Warriors four-and-out set up a 9-play, 73-yard drive capped by Baldwin’s 12-yard run. He added 38 yards on the drive and Card had 30 more. Arbahl’s foot made it 14-0 just 10 seconds into the second quarter.

The Owego defense was solid again, forcing a CV three-and-out, but the Indians botched a pitch for a 10-yard loss then gave up an interception at the home team’s 15-yard line.

Once again, the Warriors would have to punt and Elijah Lewis returned the pigskin 40 yards to the CV 38. A big chunk of Evan English’s 27-yard run on the next play was negated by a holding penalty and the Indians would go into the half with the lead still 14-0.

The third quarter appeared to be Owego’s demise, but the Indians somehow managed to persevere.

Owego was called for a face mask on the kickoff, moving the ball across midfield. A 23-yard QB keeper by Tyler-John Adams on 4th-and-12 with a late hit flag tacked on at the end, set up CV’s first score. Landon White scored from the one and the PAT kick made it 14-7 with 6:42 remaining in the period.

Chenango Valley’s Josh Packer recovered the onside kick at the Owego 48 and eight plays later, Adams connected with Leo Skiba for a 6-yard score. The PAT kick was short and wide right, leaving Owego clinging to a 14-13 edge.

The Indians would finally get the ball with 3:22 on the clock as CV attempted another onside kick. This time, Simeon Kirk would swallow up the ball.

Owego would drive to the CV 16, but cough up the ball at the 19 on the first play of the fourth quarter. Freshman Dylan Davis would record a sack on the next play, followed by another Owego face mask penalty.

Then came the strangest call of the evening. On third-and-5, Adams threw a screen to his receiver, who was drilled by Zach Bensley as he turned upfield and English pounced on the loose pigskin.

The referee ruled it an incomplete pass, then changed the call to a fumble due to the fact it was actually a lateral, making the loose ball a fumble and not an incompletion. As Owego was preparing to start its offensive possession, the officials changed the call again and gave CV the ball and fourth down.

The Indians took possession at their own 29 and Baldwin would score on a 38-yard run five plays later. His PAT run at 5:38 made it a 22-13 ball game.

“He's our senior leader without a doubt,” Virkler said. “With about 6 ½ minutes I said, listen, we're going to feed you the ball right now. We need you to lead us to a win. He was able to do that, with a couple other guys sprinkled in, but I thought our guys battled up front.

“Our tight end, Zach Bensley, was blocking. We didn't throw the ball much at all today. When we did it wasn't very successful. We did a good job blocking the point of attack and Biddy certainly took advantage of that.”

Adams coughed up the rock on the Warriors’ first play of their next possession and Card snagged the fumble at the CV 33.

Four plays later, on third-and-13, Conlan Taylor followed the block of Nate Armstrong, eluded the Warriors’ Ben Kresge and scored his first varsity TD on a 19-yard run. Arbahl’s kick made it 29-13 with 3:42 to go in the game.

Owego was able to overcome some crucial penalties which otherwise could have been the Indians’ undoing. They were flagged four times for facemask violations and twice for personal fouls — nine penalties for 76 yards.

The Indians drew two facemask calls and a late hit penalty on CV’s first TD drive. In the fourth quarter, Owego got nailed for two facemask penalties, roughing the passer and holding.

“Some of that's not breaking down,” Virkler noted of the facemask miscues. “You're playing too high and you're grabbing and getting tired. I think part of that’s because a couple of them happened in the fourth quarter. Penalties absolutely could have destroyed us today. We overcame it, but we’ve got to get that cleaned up.”

In contrast, the Warriors were flagged five times for 30 yards.

The Indians recorded 319 yards of offense, all on the ground. Taylor and Brendan Schofield had 37 yards apiece, and Card added 36 more.

Chenango Valley tallied 160 yards. Adams went 9-for-15 through the air for 56 yards and rushed for 49 more with Nate Marinaro making four receptions for 21 yards.

The Indians (1-2) host Johnson City Friday.

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IN PHOTO 1: Owego’s Steven Bidwell … PHOTOS BY TIM TAYLOR.

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