LOWVILLE Immaculate Heart Central has achieved one of its season-long goals, earning a spot in the Section 3 Class C playoffs.
But the unbeaten Cavaliers want more. And they know to reach their potential, they must clean up some critical mistakes to if they want to make a concerted bid for a sectional football title.
IHCs defense posted its third shutout of the season Saturday night, blanking host Lowville, 21-0, in a battle of Class C North unbeatens.
The Cavaliers (4-0) have just one conference game remaining a potential title showdown at home against General Brown on Oct. 18, to earn one of the coveted top four seeds when the playoffs begin the following week.
Its nice to know that were going to the playoffs, said senior tight end Miles Sexton, who caught a 35-yard scoring pass from Cole Carpenter in the second quarter. The next two weeks weve got to iron out the mistakes, and then get ready for hopefully a showdown with General Brown.
The Cavaliers held Lowville (3-1, 2-1) to just 79 total yards. IHC also picked off two passes and forced three fumbles.
Were just playing so well together as a unit, senior linebacker Austyn Frechette said. Our line stops everything, and our secondary is really active. That makes the linebackers job really simple, just look for the ball.
IHCs offense mainly took to the air, with Carpenter throwing 25 passes and completing 17 for 189 yards. That was by design, according to head coach Paul Alteri.
We wanted to spread them out with trips on almost every play, Alteri said. I thought Cole did a nice job of reading what was open, then made some really good deliveries.
It helps that Carpenter also has prime targets in senior wideouts Nick Koelmel (7 receptions, 90 yards), and Jude Whalen (5-30) as well as Sexton (3-66).
IHCs ground game totaled just 56 net yards, but Alteri was content to probe the Red Raiders defense for big plays.
Unfortunately, IHC hurt itself by losing two fumbles and Carpenter threw two interceptions. Add in 10 penalties for 75 yards, and it was a sloppy performance.
We cant get away with that against General Brown or anybody well face in the sectionals, Alteri said. But those are areas that can be addressed pretty quickly.
Sexton made a spectacular one-handed catch of a Carpenter pass and turned it into a 35-yard score early in the second quarter.
I saw it going over my head so I reached out with my left hand as far as I could, Sexton said. Fortunately, I was able to bring it into my body, regain control and then just head for the end zone.
IHCs lone scoring drive, a 12-play, 63-yard march, culminated in a Marra 2-yard touchdown run late in the opening half to make it 14-0.
Lowville moved to the IHC 18 yard-line with a minute left before halftime. But Robert Campany fumbled heading to the goal line, and the Cavaliers recovered in the end zone.
If we get one there, it might have given us some momentum, Lowville coach Josh Coffman said.
Unfortunately, Coffmans offense, already without leading rusher Billy Larkins (shoulder injury), was hamstrung by injuries to both of his quarterbacks. Widrick bruised a thumb while playing defensive end, and could not attempt a pass in the second half.
And backup Connor Fayle suffered an ankle injury while replacing Widrick in the first half.
The Red Raiders had another golden opportunity to get on the board when Cameron Malik scooped up an IHC fumble and ran to the IHC 23 midway through the third quarter. But the IHC defense held on downs, and again following a Malik interception.
Carpenters 1-yard TD plunge in the fourth quarter concluded the scoring.
Thats two games in a row weve had at least four turnovers, Coffman said. Its too bad, because our defense played their hearts out.
PULASKI 35, BEAVER RIVER 12
Joe Gamble ran for 150 ayrds and caught two touchdown passes as the Blue Devils (3-1, 2-1) beat the Beavers in a Section 3 Class D Central game in Beaver Falls.
Kyle Steiner hit Daniel Erker with a scoring pass for Beaver River (1-3), and Erik Lyndaker also scored on a run.
POTSDAM 34, MALONE 0
Will Coleman threw two touchdown passes to Jacob Bryant to help lead Potsdam past the Huskies (1-3) in a Northern Athletic Conference game in Malone.
Bryant caught an 18-yard pass from Coleman for the first touchdown of the game and caught a 10-yard pass in the third quarter.
ODen Robertson led Potsdam (4-0) with 104 yards rushing, including touchdowns of 1 and 50 yards. Andrew Ace also scored on a 3-yard run for Potsdam. Connor Warden intercepted two passes for Potsdam.
TUPPER LAKE 27, GOUVERNEUR 12
Morgan Stevens threw for 133 yards, including three touchdown passes, as Tupper Lake (2-2) defeated the Wildcats in an NAC game in Gouverneur.
Cody LaPierre caught a 50-yard touchdown pass from Stevens, and Mitch Keniston caught passes of 34 and 1 yard for scores.
Jeremy Roussel rushed for 105 yards to lead Tupper Lake and scored on a 5-yard run.
Ben Casey scored on a 10-yard run for the Wildcats (1-3), and Dustin Hutton scored the final touchdown on a six-yard fumble recovery.