Thunderbirds bashed by Titans

Photo by Valory Isaacson
The Thunderbirds’ Joshua Walsh carries the ball after taking the handoff from Devin Pope (5) during Friday’s game in Mayville against Franklinville.

Photo by Valory Isaacson The Thunderbirds’ Joshua Walsh carries the ball after taking the handoff from Devin Pope (5) during Friday’s game in Mayville against Franklinville.

On a misty senior appreciation night in Mayville, Franklinville/Ellicottville showed exactly why it has yet to drop a game this season, rolling to a 46-6 win over host Chautauqua Lake in Class D action.

The Titans now sit at 6-0 overall and 4-0 against league opponents with a chance to finish their season undefeated and with a No. 1 playoff seed, thanks in large part to another stellar night from senior quarterback Brock Blecha.

“You’ve gotta be able to adjust, and Brock threw some great passes tonight,” Titans coach Chad Bartoszek said. “He is the engine. The quarterback in this offense is so important. It’s nice that we are able to make throws that are just right on the money. He’d probably want one or two back but the other ones were spot-on and the receivers can go get them.”

While Bartoszek’s team may have started the night with a penalty for illegal formation on the opening kickoff, that was really the only misstep the Titans would have through the ensuing four quarters of play.

Running, throwing, defense — Franklinville/Ellicottville had it all on Friday.

Despite their struggles for most of the night, Chautauqua Lake’s offense began the night being able to move the ball well as Josh Walsh was able to break big run outside the left.

It was only a diving ankle tackle by Austin Grinols of the Titans that kept Walsh from breaking open the scoring, but shortly after that long run the Thunderbirds’ drive stalled and Dustin McCaslin was forced to kick it away. Taking over their own 15-yard line, Griffin Chudy and Blecha got things started on the ground with two first downs for Franklinville/Ellicottville. Facing a third-and-10 after a screen pass was batted down, it looked like Blecha was in trouble as he was forced from the pocket. But the senior quickly showed his mobility, rolling off his throwing arm and finding an Sam Erickson to complete the first down.

One play later Blecha hit Deric Leiper with a 26-yard beauty on the right side of the end zone for the first of his three touchdown throws.

“We played a heck of a first half,” Bartoszek said. “We had a couple mental errors offensively that slowed us down. They were doing some really nice things, they were sending a lot of bodies and that’s tough to manage sometimes. But just coming down that first drive and hitting some touchdowns passes really took the wind out of their sails.”

After the opening score, the Titans went right to work recovering a fumble on the first play of Chautauqua Lake’s drive, and Blecha was able to find Erickson wide open on a seam route up the middle of the field for a 29-yard score. Following an extra point run by Chudy, Franklinville/Ellicottville was looking good in the opening quarter with a 16-0 lead.

“You’re always looking to win when you come in, always looking to compete,” Chautauqua Lake coach Rich Morton said. “We didn’t do a great job of that tonight. Obviously they’re a great team. They’ve been built over a period of time and we are building here, we’re in a process, but at the same time we expected more of ourselves as a team and as a coaching staff and we expect a hard week of practice and for the boys to push themselves and to bounce back.”

Once again it looked like the Thunderbirds (2-4, 2-3) may be able to get some momentum after falling behind early, but on their subsequent possession Walsh’s would-be 30-yard touchdown run was called back on a penalty, with the possession resulting in a turnover on downs.

That allowed Blecha to continue his aerial show, this time landing a 22-yard strike right in the hands of Chudy.

While Chautauqua Lake was able to get the ball back with moments remaining before halftime, that backfired as well when Devin Pope’s desperation throw was picked off by Chudy, who returned the interception from midfield all the way to the house to make it 39-0.

A 1-yard run by Ben Mooney would provide Franklinville/Ellicottville’s final score of the night in the final quarter, while the Thunderbirds were finally able to get on the board courtesy of their replacement quarterback Zach Martin, who found Bryce Rowe open for a 21-yard score with 4:29 remaining in the game.

The Titans will now look to seal up an undefeated regular season as they host Clymer/Sherman/Panama (5-1, 3-1), which posted a 32-0 win over Salamanca on Friday, in Franklinville next week.

“This is such a big week coming up, this is to finish an undefeated season and the No. 1 seed and all that good stuff,” Bartoszek said.

NOTES: Blecha’s night ended with 118 yards through the air for three scores while Pope complete two passes for 44 yards. … Jacob Peters led the Titans in rushing with 67 yards on eight carries while Blecha totaled 63 rushing yards and Chudy 45. … Walsh’s night ended with 83 yards on the ground for an average of 6.9 yards-per-carry. … Erickson caught three balls for 59 yards. … Chudy totaled four tackles including two for a loss. … Walsh finished with four tackles.

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