Victor Blue Devil junior running back Tommy Wagner was well on his way to having what would probably have been his best game of the season so far, maybe even of his career, running for 307 yards on 25 carries, scoring twice on his way to leading the road Blue Devils to a 21-13 win over the Honeoye Fall-Lima Cougars.
But with 1:30 left in the game, Wagner didn’t get up after a running play and was eventually taken of the field on a stretcher, taken away in an ambulance with an undisclosed leg injury.
With that in mind, the Blue Devils weren’t in too much of a celebratory mood after the win.
“Tommy is one of the main contributors to our offense,” said Tommy’s freshman QB brother Mike Wagner. “Our line threw some excellent blocks for him but he made really good plays with his feet, breaking tackles. Three hundred yards kind of speaks for itself."
Tommy Wagner scored on huge runs of 77 and 90 yards. The Blue Devils' third TD came on a 30-yard strike from Mike Wagner to Zach Towner.
The host Cougars scored first, though, with Keenan O’Brien running the ball in from the three with 2:27 left in the first quarter following a 48-yard pass play from Cougar senior QB Dylan Swetman to junior teammate Alex Obenhofer.
“What we did, the way we got the momentum at the beginning was our gadget play,” HF-L coach Dan Hoyt said of the team's first TD. “It was all set up when we had a stop here. So it was a big play. I wanted to try and get the lead to get the kids believing that they could beat them. And we did.”
Three plays later, though, came Tommy Wagner’s run of 77 yards to make it 7-7.
With 2:03 left in the half, the Blue Devils broke up what had turned into a defensive struggle for most of the second quarter when Tommy Wagner once again broke open into the Cougar defensive backfield, headed to the Blue Devil sideline and, thanks to a beautiful come-from-behind block by fleet-footed Towner, added another TD, this one the 90-yarder.
The Cougars turned around undaunted and put together a nine-play drive with time running down in the half, getting to the 10-yard line with 35 seconds left where the Blue Devils intercepted a Swetman pass in the end zone to effectively put an end to the half, up 14-7.
In the second half the Cougars consistently moved the ball between the 20s but each time got stalled by the Blue Devils defense. With 2:22 left in the third quarter Victor was looking at a third-and-13 play, when Mike Wagner threw a perfect pass to a quickly opening Towner for the team's third TD.
Page 2 of 3 - “We had a hitch called,” said Victor coach Geoff Mandile. (Tommy) made an adjustment with Mike, which they have been doing all year. He saw something and they went with it. A huge block from Zach Towner down field and it’s a touchdown run. Turns out one score was the difference so that was big.”
Down 21-7 at the end of the third quarter, the Cougars had no mind for giving up, twice more working the ball down the field only to stall out each time near the goal line. After fumbling the ball over to Victor, the Cougar defense once again stopped the Blue Devils offense. Then, on three ensuing pass plays of 27, 24 and 30 yards, HF-L scored the game's final TD. The three-play series ended on a Swetman-to-Trevor Wilkes pass play. The Cougars missed the PAT kick, making it the 21-13 final score.
“To protect the football and hang on to it. That’s what we work at,” said Mandile, alluding to the fact that his team won the turnover battle. “In the first half, I don’t know what the time of possession was but we hung on to the ball for a long time in that half. They came out with a long drive in the second but didn’t get any points off of that. They moved the ball between the 20s but we buckled down in the red zone and held them scoreless at the beginning of the third quarter which was big for us.”
On the defensive side, the Blue Devils had two interceptions, one fumble recovery, and were led by senior Dale Mattice who ended up with 11 tackles while teammate David Cardillo recorded 12.
Swetman was 20 of 26 for 298 yards and a touchdown for Honeoye Falls-Lima (2-2). Nick Weston had eight catches for 62 yards and six rushes for 46 yards. Weston also added nine tackles for the Cougars.
“What I love about these kids — this is a great group of kids,” Hoyt said. “I only have 26, 27 guys. We are low on numbers but they have huge heart. They don’t quit and they just keep coming. You saw it with that last fourth down stop. They are great practice kids. I love being around them. Tonight would have been a huge victory”
The Blue Devil players talked about how tough a team HF-L was.
“They were a tough team and we knew that going in,” Victor's Joe Bodine said. “We had a really good week of practice. (HF-L) started off with the first touchdown but that didn’t stop us. We answered back.
"Arcadia is going to be another tough game," Bodine contined. "But after we have a good week of practice, execute in that game, hopefully we can out with another win.”
“Four and 'O' means a lot,” said Victor senior Mitch Ford of his team's record. “It’s a very good start. We just need to keep working in practice.”
Page 3 of 3 - “I am pleased, but we can always get better,” said Mandile agreeing with his players.
“If Arcadia wins (Saturday) they could be 4-0 coming into our place next weekend. So, really, that’s our only focus now. Another challenge for us.”
HF-L travels to Irondequoit for a 7 p.m. game Saturday night.