Niagara Gazette — LANCASTER — They wore their home uniforms, navy blue from head to toe. Yet once again Niagara Falls High School was playing on the road, a last-minute decision made when Sal Maglie's rain-soaked field was deemed unfit for play.
And once again, it was a long bus ride back to Niagara Falls (0-3) with the players mulling over a loss, this one a 17-0 shutout by Class AA rival Lancaster (3-0) at Foyle-Kling Field on Saturday night.
It was a game that was supposed to be played in the afternoon but, with the change in venue, Niagara Falls head coach Donald Bass found himself having to keep his players focused for a few hours longer before the game finally got underway around 6:30 p.m.
"It's very hard to keep them focused but I've got to give the guys credit. They responded well," said Bass. "We had to do this last year and travel to Jamestown and that team just didn't show up. These boys showed up."
Lancaster's players were bigger in size, especially their offensive linemen. Their bench was deeper, too, with the Redskins outnumbering the Wolverines almost two to one. Yet for most of the first half, the Wolverines were right in the game.
Early in the first quarter it was due to Lancaster miscues, including an incomplete pass on a fourth down and later a missed field goal attempt. Later, though, it was the result of the Wolverine defense stepping up and making key plays.
Late in the first quarter, for example, after Niagara Falls quarterback Jaylin Smith's long pass was picked off at midfield, Niagara Falls shut down Lancaster's offense, including a big third down sack by Erik Santiago.
Lancaster finally broke the scoreless tie with just under six minutes left in the second quarter. After Smith threw his second interception, which was returned by Ryan Ritter to the Niagara Falls 3 yard line, Matt Szymanski took the ball on the following play and ran it in for a touchdown.