Sleepy Hollow surges past Lakeland
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It took a few years, but Sleepy Hollow has finally become a legit contender on the Class A level.
The Headless Horsemen — a former perennial power in Class B — improved to 5-1 with a 41-21 homecoming win over Lakeland (3-3) on Saturday afternoon.
As it stands, Sleepy Hollow is the No. 1 seed out of League 1 in the upcoming Section 1 Class A playoffs, according to the Piner System formula.
After a two-year postseason hiatus, the Horsemen are back in a big way.
"We had a great summer," first-year quarterback Devin Lopez said. "We went to 7-on-7s and worked our butts off for this."
Against Lakeland, it was evident just how hard they worked. Sleepy Hollow got stronger as the game wore on, scoring the final three touchdowns to seal the win.
"They kept fighting and never quit," Horsemen coach Steve Borys said. "And once they get on track, they are pretty darn good."
Speedster Dominic Onwe was the best of them all. The versatile junior running back rushed for 72 yards and two touchdowns on just eight carries. He also hauled in an 85-yard touchdown pass from Lopez. Onwe sparked Sleepy Hollow's furious finish, scoring on a 5-yard run with 15 seconds left in the third quarter to snap a 21-21 tie.
"(Onwe) is the fastest kid on our team," Lopez said. "He puts on the jets and I just have to throw it to him and he's gone."
Onwe has been one of Section 1's most explosive players this season. The track star has rushed for a team-high 503 yards and five touchdowns on 55 carries. He has also has three touchdown catches and one kickoff return for a touchdown.
"Dominic can score at anytime — he's unbelievable," Borys said.
Unfortunately for Sleepy Hollow, Onwe went down with an ankle injury after ripping off a 10-yard run on the opening play of the fourth quarter. He was keeled over in pain near the sideline and had to be carried off the field. As of now, his status for next week's showdown against archrival Ossining is unknown.
"We have to wait and see," Borys said of the extent of the injury. "Hopefully, we have to pray and see what Monday brings. He turned it. He didn't break it or anything like that, but it looks like a sprained ankle and we have to find out how severe and play it by ear."
Of course, Sleepy Hollow has plenty of other weapons, too. Overall, four different players scored touchdowns against Lakeland.
Senior safety Steve Bencosme opened the scoring with 4:14 left in the first quarter, returning an interception 98 yards to the house. It was the second interception of the season for Bencosme, who picked off 10 passes to earn all-state in 2011.
"Steven Bencosme is one of the best defensive backs in America," Borys said. "This year people are staying away from him. Like you saw today, he's explosive when he gets the ball."
Overall, Sleepy Hollow picked off Lakeland quarterback Brian Prunty three times. Edwin Jiminez and Danny Chevere nabbed one apiece.
Lopez, meanwhile, steered clear of any turnovers. Overall, he completed 5 of 12 passes for 153 yards and two touchdowns and ran for 62 yards on 14 carries. Lopez connected with Onwe for an 85-yard touchdown as time expired in the first quarter to give Sleepy Hollow a 14-7 lead. He also tossed a 13-yard touchdown to Jiminez with 7:46 left in regulation, extending the lead to 35-21.
Sleepy Hollow's first-year signal-caller has put up eye-popping numbers thus far in 2012, competing 39 of 77 passes for 738 yards and 12 touchdowns. He has also rushed for 410 yards and four touchdowns on 73 carries.
"(Lopez) just came up from the JV and did a great job down there," Borys said. "It has been a seamless transition thus far. He has a couple things to work on and we are looking for a very bright future for him."
Donte Ellis capped the scoring for the Horsemen, bolting 44 yards to paydirt on his lone carry of the game. If Onwe misses time due to the injury, Ellis could be a player to watch.
"(Ellis) got off to a slow start largely because Dominic was playing so well," Borys said. "He got his chance and made the most of it. Let me tell you, he's going to be getting more carries in the future — that's for darn sure."
For Lakeland, fullback Jimmy Flaherty turned in a gutsy effort, battling through flu-like symptoms to carry the ball 30 times for 131 yards and two touchdowns. Flaherty plunged in from 3 yards out to even the score at 7-7 with 59 seconds left in the first quarter. He ran for another game-tying score from 8 yards out with 2:38 left in the third quarter.
Anthony Capozzi rounded out the scoring for the Hornets, returning a kickoff 88 yards for a touchdown with 9:57 left in the third quarter to trim Sleepy Hollow's lead to 21-14.
Looking ahead, the Horsemen will now try and get over the hump against Ossining, which has won the last nine meetings between the border rivals.
"It is a big crosstown rival and we love to play each other," Borys said. "It will be another great opportunities for the communities to have a nice party."
For Sleepy Hollow, that party could very well extend deep into the postseason.
Follow Isaac Cass on Twitter @MSGV_Icass