The rematch went the same way as the last meeting between Williamsville North and Sweet Home. Even though the stakes weren’t nearly as high Saturday, the Spartans still left the field happy.
A tough, physical defense kept the Panthers’ offense under wraps most of the game as the Spartans earned a 27-6 win on a steamy afternoon at Williamsville North Field in the Class A North opener for both teams.
The Spartans limited the Panthers to 7 first-half rushing yards and 30 first-half total yards. Aside from Brandon Roe’s 66-yard touchdown run, which North almost blew up in the backfield, the Spartans defense prevented the Panthers’ young skilled players from making any plays.
Defense, defense: A unit led by Connor Kelly, Tory Rogers and Eric Weisansal made life miserable for the Panthers’ skilled players. They were fast and strong, limiting Sweet Home to 138 yards, including just 91 rushing.
Play of the game: Andrew Hwang’s 24-yard touchdown run broke a scoreless tie with 8:35 left in the second quarter. Until then, both teams experienced tough sledding. Hwang followed that with a 17-yard TD run on North’s next possession.
Play of the game II: It’s the lone blemish for Spartans defense but Roe turned nothing into something special with his 66-yard TD run in which he broke a tackle while receiving a handoff. The high snap was bobbled, too, before Nate Faller gave it to Roe. He broke another tackle along the way to the end zone.
Key moment: Williamsville North responded to Roe’s touchdown with an eight-play, 70-yard drive that included a pass interference penalty against the Panthers. Seven Turpin’s 17-yard run with 4:24 left in the third quarter made it 20-6, Spartans.
Quotable: “I think it helps you just from a physicality standpoint,” North coach Mike Mammoliti said about his team dropping back to Class A after spending last season in Class AA. “We had six guys come back from that team who played significant roles. I think that allows them to understand when they need to play at a certain level. Sweet Home is a great team with great athletes. …. We had to match physicality with physicality and I think we did it.”
Quotable II: “A lot of guys, this was their first real varsity game. It’s different. We have to regroup, that’s all.” –Sweet Home coach John Faller on losing the season opener.
Attendance: Estimated 1,500.
Game time: 2 hours, 26 minutes.
What’s next: Sweet Home stays in Class A North as it hosts Starpoint at “The Bob,” Bob Barczak Stadium, even though there’s no grandstand or press box in place due to construction of the new Field Turf complex. Game time is 2 p.m. Saturday. At the same time, Williamsville North has a nonleaguer against the team that ended its season last year in Jamestown. North lost in the Class AA semifinals to the eventual state champions.