UTICA-NOTRE DAME 14, FRANKFORT-SCHUYLER 8
All Jordan Chrobak was hoping for was the chance to make something happen.
All it took was the football bouncing his way.
When it did, Chrobak did the rest.
“All I needed was a chance, a hope and a prayer,” Chrobak said Saturday, shortly after his 70-yard punt return with 14.6 seconds remaining had given Utica’s Notre Dame Jugglers a stunning 14-8 Homecoming victory over Class C East rival Frankfort-Schuyler.
“I just can’t believe I even got a shot to return it. I just got lucky it stayed in bounds, and when it didn’t make the sidelines, I figured I might as well make the best of it.”
From there, Chrobak zig-zagged his way through a couple of defenders, found daylight near midfield, and was gone, shocking a Frankfort-Schuyler team that had controlled the football and for the most part, the game.
“They beat us the whole game, but all we needed was a chance to win it — just like at Ilion,” Chrobak said, referring to the Jugglers winning their season opener 31-30 on Zane Smith’s last-second field goal. “I just found some space, broke some tackles, found a seam and then hit it.”
Even the speedy Chrobak, a Section III champion sprinter from Clinton who was averaging 26 yards per carry and 140 rushing yards per game, had been held in check — nine yards on four carries — before shaking free for 25 yards and a first down at the Frankfort-Schuyler 12.
A holding penalty helped foil Notre Dame’s only drive of the day, and Smith missed a 28-yard field goal attempt with 8:23 remaining. But a high punt snap gave the ball back to the Jugglers at the Frankfort 17, and Kevin Warmack’s seven-yard touchdown pass to Smith with 1:40 left to play cut the deficit to 8-6.
Warmack was sacked by John Biagini and Ralph Walker while trying to throw for the tying two-point conversion, and Frankfort-Schuyler’s Mike Irons recovered Smith’s onsides kick with just 1:38 remaining.
Notre Dame, however, used its final two timeouts, forcing a punt Biagini seemed to steer clear of Chrobak.
“I didn’t know what (Chrobak) was going to do — we didn’t even have a return on, we were trying to block the punt,” said Notre Dame coach Byron Abraham. “But the boy has got a will. He just broke tackles, ran through some arms, and then once he started running vertically, we said, ‘He’s got it!’
“I’ve said it before — when Chrobak has the ball, anything can happen. You can’t script it any better.”
Chrobak’s touchdown gave Notre Dame (4-2, 4-1 C East) its first lead, Warmack added a conversion pass to Smith, and the Jugglers had tied state-ranked Herkimer — beaten 20-12 by Little Falls — for the Class C East title.
Page 2 of 2 - “We tried to kick it away from (Chrobak),” Frankfort-Schuyler coach Jeff LaGase said. “We know the kid’s fast. We had him corralled, too, but he made a couple of shifty moves and then it was off to the races.
“I can’t fault our effort. We just made a couple of mistakes. We fought and we battled. We just didn’t finish it.”
Joe DeSarro’s 32-yard touchdown pass to Mitchel Shortt on third-and-14 and his conversion toss to Justin Kiesow gave Frankfort-Schuyler an early 8-0 lead. Aided by Josh Roberts’ two fumble recoveries and the running of Shortt (17 carries-74 yards), DeSarro (17 carries-44 yards) and Brandon Longo (11 carries-36 yards), the Maroon Knights (4-2, 3-2 C East) put together first-half drives of nine, 14 and 13 plays.
But in the closing seconds, Notre Dame’s defense stiffened at the Jugglers’ 14, and despite a decided advantage in total yards (174-62), first downs (10-3) and time of possession (16:14-7:46), Frankfort’s halftime lead was just 8-0.
“We had them in third-and-long and they’d convert; we just couldn’t get their offense off the field,” said Abraham. “The key was we never broke.”
Notre Dame finished with 152 total yards. Warmack rushed for 52 yards on 14 carries and Alex Kondzielawa added 44 yards on 11 carries.
DeSarro was 7 of 18 passing for 114 yards.
NOTRE DAME JUGGLERS 14, FRANKFORT-SCHUYLER MAROON KNIGHTS 8
Frankfort-Schuyler 8 0 0 0 — 8
Notre Dame 0 0 0 14 — 14
F-S — Mitchel Shortt 32 pass from Joe DeSarro (Justin Kiesow pass from DeSarro).
ND — Zane Smith 7 pass from Kevin Warmack (pass failed).
ND — Jordan Chrobak 70 punt return (Smith pass from Warmack).
Records — Frankfort-Schuyler 4-2, 3-2 C East; Notre Dame 4-2, 4-1 C East.