BATAVIA – It was the sort of night Woody Hayes would have loved.
A steady rain and a strong breeze made three yards and a glob of mud the order of the day for both offenses. Despite not completing a pass, Yorkville (3-3, 2-2) held off Batavia (1-5, 0-4) in a Western Sun Conference slopfest, 14-12. The loss knocked Batavia out of playoff contention, ending a six-year postseason string.
“It was horrendous,” Batavia sophomore running back Danny Seiton said of the conditions. “You can’t get any footing; your shoes are wet; you’re slipping in your own shoes; you go down and your gloves are wet; you turn around the next play almost fumbling the ball every time.”
The Bulldogs had a crucial fumble on a pitch play early in the second quarter that gave the Foxes the ball on the Batavia 9-yard line. On the next play, Yorkville junior tailback Tony LaMantia burst through an opening and into the end zone to give the Foxes a 7-0 lead. LaMantia rushed for 101 yards on 24 carries.
“That was my fault,” Batavia coach Mike Gaspari said of the turnover. “That was not an appropriate play call for down there. You should never pitch the football. It’s one of the few times our kids have put the ball on the ground this whole season. We’re actually on a pace to set a school record for fewest turnovers in a season.”
Seiton put Batavia on the scoreboard on the first play from scrimmage in the third quarter, breaking a tackle at the line and then dashing 80 yards for a touchdown.
He finished with 165 yards on the ground on 23 carries.
"I just made the right cut," Seiton said. "The line did its job. I saw the hole and it was off to the races." The extra-point kick failed, which would come back to haunt the Bulldogs.
Chewing up over eight minutes on the clock, the Foxes added an 8-yard TD run by Will Parker early in the fourth quarter to cap a 47-yard drive following a short Batavia punt.
Midway through the final quarter, with Yorkville backed up at its own 2, it looked like Batavia linebacker Mike Greco might have tackled LaMantia in the end zone for a safety, but somehow the ball wound up in the hands of Parker at the 8.
“We’ve had calls like that go against us all season,” Gaspari said. “It’s just the way it goes sometimes. We have to overcome that. I thought we had a safety. Last week, I thought we had a safety and their quarterback even threw it out of the end zone. They didn’t give us either one of those. Sometimes those things happen. It’s the type of year we’re having.”
Batavia still got the ball back at the Yorkville 40 with 3:34 left in the game. With two minutes left, sophomore quarterback Noel Gaspari completed the first pass of the game for no gain.
But on fourth and 10 at the 29, Gaspari connected to Jack Clancy, who made a catch at the 5. Seiton busted into the end zone on the next play, but was stopped cold on the two-point conversion try.
"I don't know what happened," Seiton said. "We audibled to it. I don't know if all the linemen heard it." The loss meant the Bulldogs will finish with a losing record for the first time since 2002.
“We’re just going to try to win all three games that we have left in our season,” Seiton said. “There are no playoff hopes, but we’re still going to try to finish 3-0.”