Weekly Feature



2017-09-07 / Sports

Legends football opens with 49-16 win over Bennett

TAYLOR NIGRELLI
Sports Reporter


Dominic Chiarmonte of Lancaster sacks Aaron Smith of Bennett in the backfield for a big loss late in the Legends 49-16 win over the Tigers Friday night at Lancaster High School. 
Photo by Jake FrenchPurchase color photos at www.BeeNews.com Dominic Chiarmonte of Lancaster sacks Aaron Smith of Bennett in the backfield for a big loss late in the Legends 49-16 win over the Tigers Friday night at Lancaster High School. Photo by Jake FrenchPurchase color photos at www.BeeNews.com The Lancaster football sectional title defense got off to a roaring start Friday night. The Legends defeated new Class AA foe and reigning Class A champion Bennett, 49-16.

“You couldn’t draw up a better start,” Lancaster Coach Eric Rupp said. “You don’t know what you have until you get into that game. There’s no preseason. I’m really happy with the kids’ effort.”

The Legends dominated from the jump, taking a 42-0 lead into halftime before playing back-ups for much of the final two quarters. They outgained the Tigers by a 418-134 margin. The Legends held Bennett to -25 yards in the first half.

“Coach Mansell did a great job having them prepared, and the kids were flying around, getting 11 hats to the football,” Rupp said. “I thought our linebackers played great.”

Lancaster was especially strong running the ball, gaining 246 yards on the ground. Andrew Hersey had 118 yards on 17 carries and three touchdowns in his first start.

“I always start out shaky the first few carries because I’m getting the jitters out and then once I get to my fifth or sixth carry, I see the defensive situation and I get pretty comfortable running the ball,” Hersey said. “I know where I’m going before the snap even comes.

“All credit to the offensive line. I gave them a little extra motivation. I told them if they gave me 150-plus, I’d give them something special come practice.”

Hersey was effective as the second running back in 2016, when he played behind All-Western New York runner Zach Samborski, who was on-hand Friday night.

“There’s a lot I learned from watching him, just as far as what holes to hit and when to bounce back in what situation,” Hersey said. “It was really a special privilege to watch him play last year and be behind him. It was a really good experience.”

The Legends moved the ball down the field with ease early Friday night. Hersey took several handoffs for large chunks of yards at a time. But it was an unexpected back that scored the first touchdown of the season. Joe Andreessen, more known for his play on defense, took a direct snap into the end zone from 20 yards out. A two-point conversion pass from Ryan Mansell to Max Giordano made it 8-0.

“Joe’s a tremendous athlete, he’s a great change-of-pace back,” Rupp said. “Andrew did a good job, but once you get down to the goal line, it’s just really hard to stop Joe. He’s really strong. He’s 225 pounds.”

The Legends got the ball back, again worked it down field, culminating in a 20-yard Hersey touchdown. On the next Bennett possession, Ben Damiani picked off a Tigers pass and ran it back for a score. Andreessen scored again from four yards out with 11 seconds left in the quarter. The Tigers had no answer for Lancaster’s overpowering offensive line.

“I think our offensive line has improved tremendously,” Rupp said. “Every week they’ve gotten a little better and it showed tonight.”

Hersey again scored on a 1-yard run with 4:52 left in the second quarter and then again from 15 yards out before half. Brandon Wingard had a 15-yard touchdown in the third quarter to put Lancaster up 49-0. A bad snap on a punt led to Bennett scoring its first touchdown. The second was scored with 1:50 left in the game.

“I know they graduated a lot of seniors, but they certainly had a lot of talent over there,” Rupp said. “But we got out to an early lead and things just kind of got rolling for us.”

The second half saw the second team get plenty of action. This is both a nice reward for non-starters who give their all in practice and good game-day experience for potential future starters.

“Every kid on this team has worked really hard year-round,” Rupp said. “So they deserve to play. It’s a great feeling when everyone can get in.”

Mansell finished the game 11-16 for 172 yards. Wingard ran nine times for 152 yards. Andreessen ran four times for 50 yards. Giordano caught three balls for 82 yards. Alec Tamburri had five catches for 47 yards. No one on the defense had five tackles, but 24 guys had at least got in one stop.

Lancaster will be at Lockport Saturday at 2 p.m.

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