Tioga County Sports Report
BINGHAMTON — Newark Valley played Tioga even through two quarters, but the state’s top-ranked Tigers put it all together in the second half on its way to a 48-20 win and their ninth Section IV, Class D football title in 10 years here Friday night at Alumni Stadium.

“We came out ready to play,” said Newark Valley coach Ed Mertson. “We were physical, we were sharp … we knew what we wanted to accomplish, and the kids went out and executed well.

“We were really happy with what we were doing up front — on the offensive line, and defensive line.

“We had our game plan, and in the first half we executed it the way we needed to,” added Mertson.

Newark Valley received the opening kick-off, and needed just six plays to march 63 yards to take the early lead.

On the second play of the game, Landon Spoonhower went of the left side of the offensive line, and ripped off a 46-yard run to the Tioga 16.

On fourth-and-8 from the 14, Mikey Wandell took a hand-off from Joey Sherwood and ran through several would-be tacklers for the score. Max Flesher’s PAT kick made it 7-0 with 9:09 remaining in the first quarter.

Tioga was penalized on the ensuing kickoff, and started its possession at its own 7. The Tigers marched the ball down field, but on their 13th play, Wandell stripped Tioga tailback Emmett Wood of the ball at the Cardinal 25 with 3:48 remaining in the first quarter.

Spoonhower picked up 17 yards on NV’s first play, but three plays later the Cardinals are forced to punt.

Tioga forged a 10-play, 72-yard drive that bridged the first and second quarters to tie the game.

The key play in the drive was a 19-yard completion from sophomore QB Caden Bellis to sophomore Valentino Rossi on second-and-21 at the Cardinal 26. Two plays later, Emmett Wood bulled in from 4 yards out with 8:45 remaining in the first half. Gavin Fisher’s PAT kick tied the game at 7-7.

Three plays after the ensuing kickoff, Wandell hooked up with Sherwood on a 51-yard completion to the Tioga 12, but three plays later, Tioga linebacker Isaac Peterson pounced on a fumble at the Tioga 10.

The Tigers needed just one play to find paydirt, as fullback Gavin Godfrey broke loose on a 90-yard TD run. Fisher’s kick made it 14-7.

The Cardinals answered with a 12-play, 67-yard scoring drive to tie the game. The key plays in the drive were a 16-yard pass from Wandell to Andrew Waterman, and two fourth-down penalties against the Tigers.

Wandell’s 13-yard TD strike to Flesher with 19 seconds remaining in the half capped the drive. Flesher’s PAT kick tied the game at 14-14.

The second half was all Tigers. They scored two TDs in the third quarter, and added another on the first play of the fourth quarter to take a 35-14 lead.

“Tioga is a very well-coached team, and they have a phenomenal back in (Emmett) Wood,” said Mertson. “I think that’s what really hurt us (in the second half), we just couldn’t get our hands on him enough to slow him down.

“There were several times where we had him bottled up … most running backs we would have had, but he’s a special running back,” he added.

Newark Valley’s second-half kick went out-of-bounds, and the Tigers began at their own 35. On the second play, Godfrey broke loose on a 47-yard run, and Bellis followed with a 13-yard TD just 68 seconds into the third quarter.

Following a three-and-out by the Cardinals, Tioga put together a 12-play, 58-yard drive, capped by a 7-yard TD run by Bellis with 2:53 remaining in the third quarter. Fisher’s kick made it 28-14.

Spoonhower returned the ensuing kickoff 42 yards to the Tioga 48, but two plays later, Rossi picked off a Wandell pass at the 10, and returned it 28 yards to the Tioga 38.

Wood carried the ball four times for 52 yards in a six-play drive, culminating with a 17-yard TD run on the first play of the fourth quarter to make it 35-14.

The Cardinals’ next possession ended on downs at their own 42, and four plays later Wood scored on a 15-yard run to make it 42-14.

Newark Valley lit up the scoreboard for the final time this season on its next possession. Wandell’s 1-yard TD run on fourth-and-goal capped a 10-play drive, and trimmed the deficit to 42-20.

The Cardinals recovered an onside kick, but following a face mask call on Tioga that moved the ball to the Tioga 37, Wood picked off a Wandell pass at the 18, and returned it 82 yards for a TD with 3:17 left in the game to provide the final margin.

Newark Valley was held to 140 rushing yards on 40 carries. Spoonhower led the Cardinals with 74 yards on 10 carries, and Wandell added 46 yards and two TDs on 18 carries.

Wandell completed 5 of 12 passes for 97 yards and one TD, but was intercepted twice. Spoonhower led NV with two receptions for 17 yards.

Tioga rushed for 461 yards on 49 carries. Godfrey led the Tigers with 189 yards and one TD on 11 carries, while Wood had 184 yards and two TDs on 23 carries, and Bellis added 79 yards and two TDs on 12 carries.

Bellis completed 2 of 4 passes for 36 yards.

“I was really happy with our senior leadership tonight,” said Mertson. “Mikey Wandell and Andy Waterman were solid out there, and kept their teammates fighting the entire game.

“We have seven seniors, and those kids are really going to be missed,” he added.

Newark Valley wraps up the season with a 7-3 record.

Tioga, now 9-0, will “host” Section III champ Dolgeville, a 20-6 winner over Adirondack Friday night, next Friday at Vestal High School.


IN PHOTO 1: Newark Valley’s Landon Spoonhower hauls down Tioga’s Isaac Peterson. … PHOTOS BY TIM BIRNEY.