Fordham douses Firebirds in OT
The only play called for Austin Wolf just so happened to be the best play of the game.
The senior, who rarely get's diagrammed plays, capitalized on his only opportunity of the day, catching Fordham's game-winning two-point conversion in overtime.
"That's one of the only plays I have in the playbook, so that's pretty much the only way I'm going to score," said Wolf with a grin. "I was so nervous when I was lining up. But i had faith in myself and I had faith in my quarterback and we got it done."
The Rams escaped from Hofstra's James M. Shuart stadium with the narrowest of victories, beating a feisty Kellenberg squad, 29-28, Sunday in front of a massive Homecoming crowd.
Led by senior quarterback Matt McDaniels, the Firebirds made the most of their raucous crowd, shredding Fordham's defense for most of the game.
Despite a first half where both teams would combine for 332 yards, neither could effectively capitalize on repeated red zone opportunities, going into the half with a 7-7 tie.
Wolf's first big moment of the game came on a broken play that had the potential to finish very ugly for the Rams. On fourth-and-15, Fordham junior quarterback John Trimble Jr. was tackled for what initially appeared to be a turnover on downs.
Miraculously the ball made it's way to the end zone before Trimble was grounded and Wolf happened to be the one emerging with the pigskin when the scrum was finally sorted out. His recovery touchdown at the 8:47 mark of the third would help tie things up at 14 a piece.
McDaniels was there to answer, exploding out of the backfield on second down and streaking all the way to the end zone, putting his team up 21-14 with only 2:58 to go in the fourth quarter.
"They did a great job planning for us," Fordham Prep coach Pete Gorynski said. "They knew what they wanted to do. But that quarterback they have is a heck of an athlete and he hurt us. We had a really tough time stopping him."
Fordham's dogged adherence to a two-quarterback system was on display throughout, with Gorynski swapping Trimble and sophomore James McHale on multiple possesions.
"So far in, four games so far, I'm pretty comfortable in the way we use both of these guys," said Gorynski. "Trimble is more of the runner/option type quarterback and McHale is more of the classic drop back thrower. We'll be with that for probably this year and next since they're both underclassmen."
On Fordham's last possession of the fourth, McHale finished off a resurgent drive by connecting with junior tight end Brian O'Rourke for the game-tying touchdown with 1:22 left in regulation.
Overtime for the Firebirds meant only one thing - more McDaniels. And the Kellenberg star delivered, connecting with junior receiver Nick Rizzo for the go-ahead touchdown.
McDaniels was unstoppable, finishing the day with a devastating 208 yardson 30 carries with two touchdowns. The 5-foot-11, 235-pound quarterback would also rack up 77 yards and an additional touchdown through the air.
"Matt McDaniels just carries us. He's just on another level. It's like he put it into third gear," said Kellenberg coach, Kevin Hanifan. "This is the third amazing game the kid's had this season. He's just carrying us and they know it."
Unfortunately for the Firebirds, as they've learned throughout the season, McDaniels couldn't get it done on his own.
After his team answered Kellenberg's touchdown with a score of their own, Gorynski made the gutsiest call of the game, deciding to go for the win with the 2-point conversion in overtime rather than the tying PAT.
Enter Wolf, a player Kellenberg hadn't counted on beating them.
"Actually people give me an awful lot of credit and that's probably undeserved. We weren't stopping them, but it was my feeling that this was our opportunity to win the game. So we took the shot," Gorynski said. "If we fail, we lose. Had we decided to kick the point, there was no guarantee that we would have stopped them and there's no guarantee that we would have scored again."
Kellenberg (0-4, 0-3 CHSFL Class AAA) left with the piece of mind that it almost beat a team that went 10-1 last season - almost.
"Moral victories are unfortunately piling up on our part. We have to get better now," said Hanifan. "We have to have a short memory. We have to put this behind us quick and get back to work Monday."
Fordham (3-1, 2-1), on the other hand, re-established it's footing following a devastating loss to St. Anthony's last week.
"This was a defining win for us. I told these kids that we absolutely needed to bounce back. I challenged them with that and they responded," Gorynski said. "I was pleased with the poise that we showed. We didn't quit. We stayed in there and we got a win we needed."