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'Hart attack' ends Clymer season

Jehuu Caulcrick, a 6-foot, 233-pound junior, literally has been a big part of the Clymer football team's three straight trips to the state final four.

Sunday afternoon, Onondaga ended the Pirates' season with an underclassman running back who isn't so big. But his numbers sure are.

Mike Hart -- a 5-9, 170-pound sophomore -- ran for 352 yards and scored five touchdowns to tie Jamestown grad Aaron Leeper's single-season state record of 47 as the Tigers beat Clymer, 33-26, in the Class D semifinals.

On a rainy day that had a crowd of 2,000 splashing through puddles on its way into the cozy Carrier Dome, Hart was a water bug that skittered and slithered through the Clymer defense.

He scored touchdowns of 65 and 35 yards in the fourth quarter to erase a Clymer lead and push the Tigers through a Pirates team that entered the game having surrendered just 62 points through its 11-0 season.

"He had a great game," said Caulcrick, who ran 30 times for 229 yards and two scores to give him a 33-touchdown season. "He can run. He's like Barry Sanders -- he's got a lot of moves like that. He just runs with a lot of heart."

And the Tigers played with a lot of Hart. His 37 carries were five short of a state tournament record, and his five touchdowns (his others were for 27, 90 and 5 yards) tied two other runners for the state tournament mark.

Hart also was just 11 yards short of the single-game tournament record of 363 set by Delaware Valley's Fred Ruillano in 1998.

Hart will get a chance to break the state touchdown mark of 47 -- set last year by University at Buffalo freshman Leeper -- in next week's state championship game.

Onondaga (12-0) will play Dobbs Ferry (11-0) of Section I for the Class D title at noon Saturday back in the dome.

"He's elusive. It's hard to tackle him," said Clymer senior A.J. Malecki, one of the few Pirates to record solo tackles on Hart. "And if he gets in the secondary, he's gone."

The Pirates spent much of the game chasing Hart and the Tigers.

Clymer trailed, 19-8, at halftime, but Caulcrick scored a 49-yard touchdown in the third quarter and Malecki (98 yards and two touchdowns on 16 carries) finished off a well-constructed drive with a 6-yard score to give the Pirates a 20-19 lead with 9:25 left.

But the Tigers regained the lead quick as a Hart attack.

On the first play of Onondaga's next drive, Hart smartly pitter-pattered behind blockers, eluded several tacklers near the Clymer 40, then kept going down the left sideline for his 65-yard score.
"We had the momentum and just like that it went away," said Caulcrick.

Caulcrick's fumble with just over seven minutes left gave Onondaga a chance to chew up some time, and that was on Hart's mind when he took a third-and-10 handoff at the Clymer 35 and headed toward the right sideline.

"I was going to the corner, and I stiff-armed one dude and then I was going to get the first down and run out of bounds," said Hart. "Then I was like, if I run out of bounds, the clock's going to stop. So I just cut back in and I went."

He went all the way to the end zone thanks to the cutback that followed some standout sideline stutter-stepping. A Hart two-point conversion gave Onondaga a 33-20 lead with 3:09 left.

Clymer quarterback Josh Chadsey engineered a scoring drive that lasted 1:40 and ended with a 2-yard dive by Caulcrick. Clymer stopped Hart enough to get the ball back but was back on its 20 with 33 seconds to play.

On the second play of the desperation drive, Hodges Sneed picked off a Chadsey pass to close any Clymer comeback.

"I'm not disappointed because I'm real happy for these kids," said a hoarse Howard McMullin, who completed his 31st year coaching Clymer. "For us to be 11-0 -- no other team at Clymer has ever done that -- I'm really thankful.

We could have gone a little further, but it's just one of those things."

e-mail: kmcshea@buffnews.com.

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