SYRACUSE — A mad dash of scoring at the end came up just short as Holy Trinity fell to Skaneateles in the Class C state championship game Friday night at the Carrier Dome, 28-25.
Midway through the fourth quarter, down 28-12, things were looking bleak for the Pride, and a comeback was becoming less and less likely. However, the fight of Holy Trinity did not back down as they scored a touchdown with just under five minutes to play to make it 28-18 on a 14-yard pass to the end zone from quarterback Joe Tortello to Jordan Mettler.
Skaneateles got the ball back and held it for a few minutes, but things still were not over yet. Holy Trinity’s Nacier Hundley picked off a pass from Lakers quarterback Patrick Hackler, and on the first play of the drive, Nick Pacini found Noah Foster from 65 yards away to make it 28-25 with 57 seconds to play.
That was when the luck ran out. Skaneateles recovered the squib kickoff to give them the ball and the win.
“They never gave up. That’s what we preached all season long, finish, finish, finish. Getting the ball back, we’re confident we’re going to score; throw the ball up, and we did. We just needed one more stop, and things would have been different,” Holy Trinity head coach John Barber said.
Holy Trinity had gotten on the board first, needing all of six plays in their first drive to take the lead on a 40-yard pass touchdown to Hundley. The sophomore had a huge game to close out his season with 154 receiving yards and two touchdowns. On the defensive side, he had two interceptions. With still two years left of high school football, he will be a force in the coming years.
After Skaneateles opened up a 14-6 lead, Holy Trinity struck back after Hundley had an interception. He also became part of the touchdown on the first play of the drive, dancing around a Laker defender to get into the end zone for a 67-yard touchdown that made it a 14-12 game just before the halftime break.
However, as good as Hundley was, Hackler was better for Skaneateles. The record-setting quarterback threw for 188 yards and three touchdowns and accounted for 140 more yards on the ground. Coming into the game, he had 50 passing touchdowns for the season, so Holy Trinity tried to keep that from getting too much higher.
“It definitely stands out. Teams are going to want to take that away, so I’d say I’m just really happy for this o-line. They did a great job run blocking especially and pass blocking today,” Hackler said.
The running game was a big part of the Skaneateles attack as on top of Hackler’s 140 rush yards, Areh Boni had 168 rushing yards and a big touchdown early in the third quarter to put his team up 21-12.
Holy Trinity is denied a state title in their first appearance in program history, but they have come a long way since last year. They finish the season with a final record of 11-2.
“I think it’s the closeness. Of what they did, what they’ve come through, what they fought through, and the fun we had,” Barber said of his team’s legacy. “Tight, tight group. They can count on each other, they know they can count on us, we count on them. The tightness, the family and the adversity that we’ve gone through.”
This all comes a year after their first-ever playoff appearance, a loss in the sectional quarterfinals to Hoosic Valley. With the talent they bring back in 2018, they could very well make another run next year.