Gambling on a last-minute onside kick, the Comets came up three points short Friday in Southwestern Conference action against the Bulldogs.
Amherst, fighting with a new confidence, held steady all night against the odds, recovering from a 14-point deficit in the fourth quarter and going down swinging for a 38-35 final.
The star of the evening was Comets running back Khennedy Scagliozzo, who racked up four touchdowns.
Quarterback Johnny Matakovitch went to Scagliozzo for guaranteed pick-ups in the Comets’ opening attack and the star sophomore helped set up an early Jeremy Smith run through the middle for the first touchdown of the game.
The Bulldogs responded with a TD of their own on third down from two yards out. Olmsted Falls also built on a penalty early in the second quarter to stage a Brett Hutkay run from 11 yards out, striding up the middle virtually untouched and retaking the lead.
On the kickoff return, Amherst’s Mark Harris found a lane and went 57 yards. Later in the drive, Matakovitch seemed wrapped up in the red zone but managed to wobble the ball forward — where a waiting Scagliozzo took it to the goal.
The Bulldogs immediately reclaimed the lead on a 37-yard run but Amherst made its reply with just two minutes left in the half. After refs brought out the chains to measure on fourth-and one at the seven yard line, the Comets picked up the first down. The ball went again to Scagliozzo, when evened the score at 21-21.
The ‘Dogs struck again less than three minutes into the second half for a seven-point lead.
Harris took the ensuing return 51 yards and then in the wide receiver slot teamed with Scagliozzo to ram down to the Olmsted 12 yard line. Matakovitch was pushed back and dragged down outside the red zone and Amherst fell short on a fourth-and-26 attempt. The Bulldogs rolled up another TD for a double-digits lead.
Scagliozzo reignited the Comets in the opening seconds of the final quarter with a three-yard run across the goal line to pull within seven. Olmsted Falls nailed a fourth-and-five field goal to stay up by 10.
With just three minutes remaining and again within sight of the goal line, Matakovitch dove forward and was stopped at the one. Scagliozzo punched it in.
Down three and with the clock an enemy, Amherst tried an onside kick. At first the Comets appeared to have it on a bounce and Bulldogs touch but the ball skipped across the sideline.
Olmsted Falls took a knee to end it.
At 1-4, the Comets roll into their homecoming game this Friday against the 4-1 Avon Lake Shoremen. A homecoming parade will start at 5 p.m. at Nord Middle School and hook around to Steele High, with kickoff at 7 p.m. at the newly-renamed Mercy Health Stadium.
Photos by Jason Hawk and Joseph Colon | Amherst News-Times State troopers flank Christian Velez, an Amherst lineman whose father, state trooper Kenneth Velez, was killed Sept. 15. Olmsted Falls honored the fallen officer with a moment of silence prior to Friday’s game.