JAMESTOWN – They're young, they're confident and they're still undefeated.
For the second straight week, the Williamsville North Spartans spotted their football opponent a two-touchdown lead. Once again, the deficit didn't shake or stir coach Mike Mammoliti's team.
Williamsville North scored a bunch of points after falling behind Jamestown to take the clash between Class AA unbeatens, 41-13, on Thursday night at Strider Field.
An estimated crowd of 2,000 saw a fast, physical team impose its will over the final three quarters as News No. 6 large school North improved to 5-0 overall and more importantly 4-0 in the division.
And they did it by showing resolve once again much like they did in rallying from a two-touchdown fourth-quarter deficit to beat Orchard Park last Friday by a field goal.
This time North shook off two big pass plays that accounted for all of the Red Raiders' points and most of their yardage to put itself in position to potentially not only earn a top two-seed for the postseason but also home-field advantage.
Junior Dylan Kelly caught five passes for 142 yards, two touchdowns and blew up his share of run plays in the backfield on defense to lead North. Senior teammate Marquel Wells rushed 12 times for 180 yards and scores of 43 and 88 yards.
"There are going to be plays where it's not going to go our way but you always have to bounce back from it and that's what we did," Kelly said.
Resolve, "that's my word for these guys," Mammoliti said. "They've shown it all year, just incredible resolve. They don't get rattled. They don't get shaken. They know you're going to be playing great teams and great teams are going to score. They know they're pretty good. They play with a lot of confidence."
That the Spartans did, even after giving up a 95-yard touchdown reception to Francisco Rodriguez on a halfback option pass and then a 51-yard pass play from Drew Boggs to Andrew Pumford, the lad who threw the TD to Rodriguez. All those points by the seventh-ranked Red Raiders (4-1, 3-1 in division) came during the final 3 minutes, 50 seconds of the first quarter.
Every comeback starts somewhere, and the door for this one by North opened with 8:14 left in the second quarter.
That's when Josh Dziama, a junior, recovered a muffed punt at Jamestown's 12. Junior Joe Nusall's quarterback keeper from the 1 four plays later trimmed the deficit.
The Spartans, who have 22 underclassmen on their roster, then showed they too can make big plays through the air as Kelly and Nusall hooked up on a 71-yard touchdown. Eddie Bianco's extra-point kick gave North a 14-13 lead nearly 4 minutes later.
While the Spartans misfired on a chance to increase their lead just before halftime, they didn't let their host off the hook after that – scoring on four of their five second-half possessions, including their first three. North gained 225 of their 392 yards for the game during the final 24 minutes as its size and speed proved to be too much for the Red Raiders.
"There was a momentum shift there (on the muffed punt) but that didn't decide the game," Jamestown coach Tom Langworthy said. "They blocked and tackled better than us for the second quarter and the second half."
Senior Ivan Ghemmegne capped a 10-play, 55-yard drive to open the third quarter with a 7-yard scoring run. Sophomore Scott Hopkins' interception 2 minutes later enabled the Spartans to add to their lead, which they did when Nusall (12 for 20, 177 yards) and Kelly hooked up for a 25-yard touchdown. Wells scored on a 43-yard run with 10:24 left, and then added the 88-yarder with 1:26 left.
"We started the game slow but we knew we had to keep our heads up," Ghemmegne said. "That's what we do. We know we're a second-half team."
The Spartans hope that's also the case when it comes to the schedule. After a 3-0 start last year, they stumbled to a 1-4 finish.
That's something that's still on their minds even though they're trying to focus on the here and the now and block out negativity.
"This whole season started when last season ended," Ghemmegne said.
North has positioned itself to perhaps contend for a share of the division title. The way the schedule worked out in the 11-team Class AA division, the Spartans and fellow unbeaten Lancaster do not face each other during the regular season. Lancaster hosts Niagara Wheatfield on Friday and then visits Jamestown next week before closing with its annual nonleaguer against rival Depew. North has two division games left.
The Spartans aren't thinking that far ahead.
"Our only concern right now is Frontier," said Mammoliti, who the Spartans host next Friday. "I'm not going to worry about anyone else. ... I've said this since we've moved up to AA. There are no weak sisters in this league. Anybody can beat anybody each weekend."