By Chris Metcalf
Late in the first half, and the score deadlocked at 7-7 between York/Pavilion and defending sectional champ Oakfield-Alabama/Elba, Y/P junior linebacker Liam Ezard stepped in front of an errant second down pass, taking it the other way for the 44 yard pick six with under a minute left, and eventually leading Y/P to the 33-14 victory Friday night in Class D action.
The visiting Aggies were driving for the go-ahead score near midfield, when Ezard’s defensive gem totally changed the momentum of the game, which until that point, was pretty much an even battle between the two.
Carl Szczech led the Y/P ground attack with 23 carries for 139 yards and two TD’s.
QB Parker Bonefede had another efficient night throwing the ball going 11-of-14 for 161 yards and two scores, coming up with several clutch plays when the Knights needed it.
Senior receiver Jake Pangrazio caught four passes for 56 yards and one TD.
Joe Bauer posted a pair of receptions for 55 yards and one TD while Ryan Brady added four catches for 36 yards.
The Brady brothers wreaked havoc on defense throughout the night as sophomore Ryan led the way with a monster night finishing with 16 stops while senior brother Tyler added 11 tackles with a pass deflection.
Ryan Brady was once again all over the field Friday night putting his clenches on what should be a Section V Defensive POY award in a few weeks.
Ezard also had a career night on defense with nine tackles, a pick sick, and a QB hurry while Brennan Royce earned a career-high 14 tackles with Joe Munoz adding eight stops.
“This was a huge win for the boys and the community, that was a long time coming,” Y/P coach Kurt Schneider said. “The O-line played great tonight and opened some really nice holes for Szczech and gave Parker some time to get the balls out to the perimeter. We will enjoy it and it’s back to the grind. We have a lot of football left.”
While the final score seemed a bit lopsided, this was a tight game most of the night.
Austin Pangrazio, a 6-foot-4, 215-pound converted lineman turned QB, filling in after the loss of Bodie Hyde, led the Aggies on an opening, 13-play, 70-yard scoring drive that culminated with a 1-yard plunge up the middle for the score and a 7-0 lead with 3:51 left.
It was Pangrazio’s 17-yard scramble on fourth and nine that kept the drive alive.
O-A/E converted two fourth-down plays on their opening drive.
But York responded as the Golden Knights, compliments of a deep pass from Bonefede to Jake Pangrazio, went for 44 yards on the first play from scrimmage in the second quarter to knot the game up at 7-7 with 11:41 left in the second.
The Knights’ scoring drive was also kept alive on a third and nine when Bonefede hit Pangrazio for 12 yards to keep the chains moving.
It stayed that way until Ezard’s pick-six gave the Knights the 14-7 halftime lead.
York took the second-half kick and went right down the field and scored, capped off by Szczech’s two-yard run that made it 20-7, following the missed PAT kick.
Back came the Aggies.
And they did it with a third and 25 play as Austin Watterson took the hand-off, and after being met by a host of York/Pavilion defenders, somehow broke free and went the distance, 60 yards in all for the touchdown closing the gap to 20-14 with just under 10 minutes left in the game.
Y/P took the ensuing kick-off, needing to break things open again, and they did.
The Knights, aided by a Bonefede to Tyler Brady pass for 16 yards on second and long, would also move the ball following Szczech’s 15-yard scamper up the middle.
But, back-to-back running losses would force a third and 10 from the O-A/E 28, where Bonefede’s perfect spiral would find the hands of Joe Bauer for the big touchdown pass and the 26-14 Y/P advantage following the missed PAT pass.
The touchdown pass came with just under five minutes left and seemed to take the wind out of the Aggies’ sail.
If Szczech didn’t seal the victory with a defensive INT on O-A/E’s ensuing drive, the senior, on a fourth and one call, definitely sealed it a few plays later when he darted up the middle for the 24-yard touchdown with 1:11 left that put the final fork into O-A/E with the 33-14 win.
The victory for Y/P avenged an earlier season 41-6 loss to the Aggies, back in early September.
Pangrazio led O-A/E with 155 yards on 29 carries and one TD while Watterson added 14 touches for 136 yards and one TD.
Ashton Bezon led the Aggies’ defense with nine tackles while Nicholas Scott registered five.
“Contrary to the score, it was another Class D battle that we felt came down to a couple of big plays,” O-A/E coach Tyler Winter said. “When York needed big plays, they got them. If we can continue to grow and minimize our mistakes, we still have an opportunity to be right where we want to be at the end of the season.”
O-A fell to 3-4.
The win for the Golden Knights pushed their record to 6-1 with one regular season game remaining, against winless Geneseo/MM.
A victory over the Blue Devils would guarantee them the No. 1 seed in Class D.
Doug McFarland Photography