SULLIVAN TWP. — Self-inflicted wounds were the name of the game Friday night for Black River’s football team.
The Pirates marched up and down the field against Ontario but could not overcome big mistakes, turning the ball over five times in a 14-6 non-league loss.
“We’re not going to win a lot with five turnovers in a game,” Black River coach Al Young said. “It’s got to stop. We’re going to turn into a pretty good team once we stop turning the football over.”
A week after they lost a second-half lead to Northwestern, the Pirates (1-2) coughed up three fumbles and threw two interceptions, with four turnovers coming in the first half to dig a 14-0 hole.
“We didn’t finish drives again, and that’s showing,” Young said. “We were a man short up front and that didn’t help, either.”
Senior Mitchell Young did not dress for the game after sustaining an injury against Northwestern. Al Young said he hopes his son will be available next week.
“Not having Mitchell at center was a big loss,” he said. “We had a couple of problems with the exchange, and that’s something we have to clean up. He’s a big cog on offense and defense for us.”
The offensive line struggled to get a push without Mitchell Young up front, particularly in the first half. The Pirates carried 25 times and had nine plays go for negative yardage.
In all, 13 of the team’s 44 carries were for negative yards.
Defensively, though, the line played well. Junior Chance Bailey in particular was noticeable, racking up two of the team’s four sacks.
“The defense was outstanding,” Young said. “We finally had some kids start stepping up.”
Despite trailing 14-0 at recess, Black River held the Warriors (2-1) to just 67 yards of offense in the half and 152 for the game.
A fumble by Spencer Constable on the first series stopped a 50-yard march by the Pirates and, after a three-and-out on the next series, Constable came in to punt and tried to run for the first down after the snap bounced to him. He gained just 2 yards, and Ontario took over at the Pirates 31.
Four plays later, running back Easton Clifton (21 carries, 98 yards) found room around the left side on fourth-and-2 and raced for a 23-yard score.
On the next play from scrimmage, Pirates quarterback Riley Bartolic fumbled the exchange and the Warriors recovered at the Black River 32. The defense held, and Black River marched from its 19 to the Ontario 28. But on fourth-and-5, Bartolic threw left and was picked off by Owen Hatfield, who raced 80 yards down the sideline for the 14-0 lead.
“We gave them a touchdown on an interception. We gave them a touchdown on (the punt). That’s it,” Young said. “I thought we played great. I thought they played hard for four quarters.”
Momentum appeared squarely on the Pirates’ side early in the second half. Ontario took the kickoff but fumbled on its first play from scrimmage and Black River took over at the Warriors 34. Four plays later, Bartolic kept up the middle, found some room, then ran over an Ontario defender at the 3 and fell into the end zone. Bartolic’s run for the two-point conversion was stuffed.
“He’s a good runner, and we need to feature that a little more in our offense,” Young said.
Bartolic threw for 88 yards, while Caleb Simonson carried seven times for 41 yards to lead the rushing attack. Junior Dylan Kmitt had the unenviable job of trying to pound the middle of the Warriors defense, carrying a team-high 13 times for 28 yards.
Contact Chris Freeman at email@example.com.
Ontario 14, Black River 6
ONTARIO 7 7 0 0 — 14
BLACK RIVER 0 0 6 0 — 6
O — Easton Clifton 23 run (Spencer Hall kick), 4:20.
O — Owen Hatfield 80 interception return (Hall kick), time n/a.
B — Riley Bartolic 15 run (run failed), 10:16.