GAME OF THE WEEK: Newburgh Falls to Jamestown in Title Game
By Tyler Piccotti
SYRACUSE – Newburgh Free Academy head football coach Bill Bianco vividly remembers the sting of losing to Orchard Park the 2011 Class AA state championship game.
So as he stood at midfield in the Carrier Dome on Saturday night, all he could do was shake his head in frustration.
“Tough luck at this place,” Bianco said. “I’ll say that.”
The Goldbacks made a couple of their own blunders in the first half and fell victim to some arguable clock management by the clock operator, and never recovered. Jamestown quarterback Nikkolas Holland ran for three touchdowns, as the Red Raiders pulled away to a 41-20 victory and the Class AA state championship.
Anthony Dubose rushed for 259 yards and a touchdown in his final game at Newburgh, but it wasn’t enough to overcome three turnovers and the clock issue at the end of the first half.
“All year, this group has fought and battled,” Bianco said. “I’m very proud. It is what it is. That’s a great team we played.”
After jumping on the board with a quick field goal, Newburgh (9-3) struggled to move the ball in Jamestown territory. The Goldbacks made three trips to the red zone in the first half, but none resulted in a touchdown.
Meanwhile, Jamestown (12-1) found paydirt early and never looked back.
Devan Jackson scampered eight yards to give the Red Raiders a 7-3 lead only nine minutes into the game. Mere seconds later, he picked up a fumble by Dubose on the ensuing kickoff and ran 45 yards for another score.
Dubose thought his knee was down, but the call stood and gave the Red Raiders complete momentum.
“We came out flat, and they just got the best of us today,” Dubose said. “It feels good to play… finishing the last game of the season, but it’s not how we wanted it.”
Down 28-13, the Goldbacks tried to charge closer in the final minute of the first half. Following a huge 48-yard gain by Dubose and some tough runs in the red zone, Newburgh faced second-and-six at the Raiders’ 10-yard line with 13 seconds left and no timeouts.
On the next play, quarterback Tyreik Washington scrambled toward the end zone, but he could only reach the 2-yard line. The Goldbacks rushed to the line for a spike, but they ran out of time and came away with no points.
“We got a first down, and they should’ve moved the chains,” Bianco said. “We spiked it. They let the clock run. We didn’t score. That’s what happened.”
The second half didn’t produce better results, as Jamestown’s do-it-all utility man Zack Panebianco intercepted running back Aaron Forbes on a trick play.
Panebianco also added a 67-yard punt return and 125 receiving yards, but some of his best plays came in pass coverage.
“We basically just had their offense mapped out,” Panebianco said. “Their run game was real tough. (Dubose) and (Forbes) are excellent backs. Our DBs have been great all year, and they showed that tonight.”
Down 34-13 early in the fourth quarter, Newburgh found a second life courtesy of Forbes’ 24th touchdown of the season with 9:42 left. The Goldbacks immediately intercepted Holland, but the ensuing drive stalled short of midfield.
Minutes later, Holland delivered the final dagger with a 23-yard scoring strike to Panebianco across the middle.
Newburgh equaled Jamestown in total yards (420) and even had five more first downs, but it couldn’t match the Red Raiders’ raw explosiveness.
Bianco said Jamestown simply made more big plays when it mattered most, and that was the difference in the game. His goal now is to move forward with the young talent that kept his team in striking distance for much of the contest.
“They could have cracked, but pretty much just stepped in and kept going,” he said. “We have some bright spots to look forward to.”