In a game plagued by heavy winds and inconsistent play by both teams, it was the Silver Creek-Forestville Black Knights (1-2) who were able to persevere and defeat the Gowanda Panthers (1-2) 20-0 in Friday night's Class C South matchup.
The win is the first victory for the Black Knights since merging football programs with Forestville.
"One of the things we said was congratulations to the Forestville kids, it's been a long time coming for them," said Silver Creek-Forestville coach Sean Helmer. "We've been going at it since Aug. 19 and it feels good to finally be able to smile."
OBSERVER?Photo by Lisa Monacelli
Silver Creek-Forestville’s Jacob Nosbisch rushes for a first down during Friday’s Class C?South high school football game against Gowanda.
Both teams came out flat early in the annual Grape Bowl, traded punts, took costly penalties and turned the ball over on downs multiple times. It was a defensive struggle throughout the first quarter and most of the game was spent between the 30 yard lines.
On Gowanda's second drive, running back Brennan Geiger took a toss around the left side and used some key lead blocking to run 34 yards for what appeared to be the game's first touchdown. Unfortunately for the Panthers, holding was called on the play negating the score. More of the same followed throughout the game as costly penalties and sloppy play would hinder the Panther offense all night.
"We started out flat," said Gowanda head coach Sean Gable. "We came out in the second half hitting people, but every time you get one play, you can't take a penalty. High school football is all about momentum and once they had it, they didn't let it go. Every chance we had to get it, we lost it, and that's what high school football is."
Silver Creek opened the scoring in the second quarter after Gowanda snapped the ball over its punter's head resulting in a turnover on downs at its own 9-yard line. Two plays later, Silver Creek-Forestville quarterback Jake Nosbisch kept the ball on a read option and ran 9 yards untouched into the end zone. The two-point conversion failed, giving the Black Knights a 6-0 lead.
With 11 seconds left in the first half, and the Black Knights seemingly out of scoring position, Nosbisch hooked up with Kraig Gilbert on a 60-yard pass down the left sideline to put Silver Creek up by a score of 13-0 going into the half. The momentum was clearly on the Black Knights' side after the big play and the defense completely shut down Gowanda's offense from that point forward.
"With high school kids, the momentum can be devastating, or it can win the game for you," Helmer said. "We had just been struggling to put things together. Everything was there and we would have a drop or take a penalty. That really helped to get some momentum going into halftime."
After being held in check for the majority of the third quarter, Silver Creek-Forestville once again struck with another big play as Nosbisch threw his second touchdown of the game. This time it was Jacob Lewis on the receiving end of a 30-yard pass to give the Black Knights a 20-0 lead, which would ultimately be the final score.
Silver Creek held Gowanda to just 77 total yards while racking up 294 of its own. The Panthers were led on the ground by Geiger who carried the ball 20 times but only managed to gain 29 yards rushing.
"Our defense was outstanding," Helmer said. "Smothering, gang tackling, we were all over the ball. (Geiger) is a good back and we did a really nice job bottling him up. I think we forced them to throw the ball more than they wanted to and I thought our secondary did a real nice job."
The Panthers played solid run defense throughout the contest as the Black Knights' leading rusher, Kane Kettle, finished the game with just 44 yards on the ground. Gilbert added 38 yards on seven carries.
Nosbisch completed 13 of 25 passes for 167 yards and two touchdowns, plus one rushing touchdown, on his way to being named the Black Knights' Grape Bowl offensive MVP.
The Black Knights defense provided a consistent pass rush with Tim Manning leading the way with two sacks. Manning was named the team's defensive MVP in the win.
Notes: Geiger was named offensive MVP for Gowanda while Seth Halftown won defensive MVP ... The Black Knights will be donating the profits from their 50/50 raffle to the family of Damon Janes. The winner also gave their half back in order to be donated as well ... At halftime, Silver Creek celebrated the inaugural Black Knight Hall of Fame class.