On a hot, muggy summer day more suited for hiding in air conditioned surroundings than playing football outdoors, Williamsville North showed that it had plenty in reserve to get the better of old friend Sweet Home once again.
With the starting backfield of the Hwang brothers relegated to spectator status in the second half, reserve quarterback Jose Padilla and running back Seven Turpin more than filled in admirably for their wounded teammates during the Spartans’ 27-6 victory in a Class A North contest at Williamsville North Field.
They delivered the key plays that helped break the Panthers’ spirit before an estimated 1,500. They kept the chains moving for North’s offense, as the team did what it needed to do after Sweet Home had scored to pull to within seven points early in the third quarter.
They replied with a touchdown of its own, as North made it a two- possession game once again with Turpin and Padilla leading the way.
“I knew I had to play hard,” said Turpin, a junior transfer from Canisius playing his first varsity game. He rushed for a team-high 72 yards and scored two touchdowns. “They were right behind me. We just had to go out there and get the win.”
This was the first meeting between the schools since Williamsville North snapped Sweet Home’s 69-game winning streak against Western New York in the 2013 Section VI Class A final.
The players have changed, but North wanted to start its return season in Class A with a win over a Panthers program that’s reached the last eight Section VI finals.
“We prepared all offseason for this game,” said junior Spartans linebacker Connor Kelly. “We just prepared like crazy for this game.”
Including Turpin and Padilla.
Turpin carried 16 times in the second half filling in for junior Andrew Hwang, who injured his calf during a hard-running first half in which he scored on runs of 24 and 17 yards to help the hosts to a 13-0 halftime lead. He only carried once in the second half, finishing with 55 yards on eight rushes.
Padilla, a senior, took over at quarterback to open the second half as Jason Hwang suffered a shoulder injury while being horse-collar tackled late in the second quarter while leading North on its second touchdown drive.
After Sweet Home had pulled within 13-6 on Brandon Roe’s 66-yard touchdown run in which he turned potential disaster into something special, North replied with an eight-play, 70-yard march with one 15-yard penalty on the Panthers in which Turpin rushed for 29 of those yards – including a 17-yard touchdown with 4:24 left in the third. While Turpin gained yardage with his shifty running style, Padilla gave him and the team the chance to score when he lofted a long 26-yard pass down the left side to Anthony Maniscalco to convert a third and 11 from the Panthers’ 46. Padilla finished 3 for 6 for 41 yards.
“It’s awesome to have guys who are backups who can make plays when they’ve got to,” Andrew Hwang said. “They’re next man up and stepped up.”
“We talked about next man up throughout the whole game,” North coach Mike Mammoliti said. “I just think it comes to preparation. That was the word on the board this week. Preparation leads to confidence. The way we practiced is the way we played.”
Turpin capped his fine debut with a 2-yard TD with 6:11 left, a drive in which North milked 5 minutes, 42 seconds off the clock.
Sweet Home’s Roe rushed for a game-high 79 yards on five carries, including his beast-mode touchdown run that turned a potential tackle for a loss into the only downer for North on this day.
“We made a couple mistakes, they took advantage of it and they made some better plays than we did,” coach John Faller said. “Third quarter, it’s 13-6. … Just didn’t put it together. They took it to us. They were the better team today.”