Cicero-North Syracuse overpowers Corcoran 28-6 to earn shot at first sectional football crown
10/29/2016 2:32 PM

Cicero-North Syracuse gave up a touchdown bomb to Corcoran midway through the first quarter of their Class AA sectional football semifinal.  

But the Northstars (9-0) shut down the Cougars after that, and scored 28 straight points on their way to a 28-6 victory tonight at Michael Bragman Stadium.

With the win, C-NS earns its first shot at a sectional football championship since 2007, when the Northstars lost to West Genesee in the Carrier Dome. The school, which has sectional championships in just about every other sport, had never won a football title.

This could be the year.

C-NS will face Christian Brothers Academy, a 35-7 winner over Baldwinsville in the second game, at 6 p.m. next Saturday in the Carrier Dome for the championship.

Quarterback Conner Hayes had a big night for the Northstars, running for one touchdown and passing for another against a stout Corcoran run defense.

Hayes was turned loose a little by C-NS coaches, and he responded by completing 14 of 24 passes for 229 yards and one TD. He also ran for 65 yards and another score.

The sophomore said the Northstars weren't bothered by Corcoran's early TD - a 59-yard bomb from Tyrice Williams to Khalil Robinson midway through the first quarter.

"It happened last week, too," Hayes said of C-NS' quarterfinal win over Henninger. "We went down early. I knew our team would respond, come out and play good football."

Respond they did - especially the Northstars' defense, which surrendered just one first down the entire game.

C-NS coach Dave Kline said he wasn't afraid to turn his passing attack loose after it was obvious that Corcoran was geared up to stop the run.

"You've gotta do what you have to do to win," he said. "If that means run the ball, we'll run the ball. 
If that means throw the ball, we'll throw the ball."

Junior Lukas Merrluzzi, who caught six of Hayes' passes for 103 yards, gave credit to the offensive line and to Hayes.

"I really give it to our linemen, holding it for our quarterback Conner Hayes. He got me the ball - he got the ball to everybody," Merrluzzi said.

Erik Pride scored a pair of first-half touchdowns for the Northstars, sandwiched around a safety. And Hayes ran one in from 11 yards out with under one minute left in the second quarter to make it 22-6 at the half. The only scoring in the second half came on a 58-yard TD pass from Hayes to Tyler Days.

"We had that plan all week," Hayes said of C-NS passing more. "We knew they were going to come after us on the run game. We just had to adjust and do something different."

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