ELGIN – Through the ups and downs of a frustrating first half for the Batavia football team, two promising signs remained intact – Larkin couldn't stop Anthony Scaccia, and the Bulldogs' pass rush overwhelmed Larkin's offensive line.
Both factors remained constants, enabling the Bulldogs to wrestle full control of the game, defeating the Royals, 46-14, on Saturday at Memorial Field.
Batavia (5-1, 3-0 Upstate Eight Conference River) scored 39 unanswered points after facing a 14-7 deficit in the second quarter.
Royals quarterback Kemmerin Blalark was under duress most times he went back to pass, taking some major losses from a hard-rushing Bulldogs defensive line and blitzing linebackers.
Fast-improving Batavia junior defensive end/linebacker Josh Leonhard, who missed the start of the season with an ankle injury, was among several Bulldogs who exploited an athleticism edge with Larkin's line.
"I feel like I've gotten faster and stronger," Leonhard said. "Just overall a better player."
The Bulldogs' defense – returning some key starters from injury – sacked Blalark six times.
"The way we look at it is, hey quarterback, you're outmanned a little bit, you've got to have that clock in your head," Larkin coach Mike Scianna said. "And there are a couple he should have [gotten rid of]. So I'll blame the quarterback for half of the sacks and the line for half of the sacks."
After Scaccia's second touchdown helped Batavia tie Larkin at 14, the Royals (3-3, 2-2 UEC River) squandered their leftover momentum with a regrettable sequence to close the half.
Larkin, starting at its own 20-yard line with 35 seconds left in the half after an interception, was forced to punt following an incomplete pass and two ineffective runs, as the Bulldogs aggressively used timeouts.
Batavia took over at its own 38 with only 10 seconds to go, and made the most of its time for two plays. Senior quarterback Micah Coffey dashed for 17 yards to the Larkin 45, and after the Bulldogs' final timeout with about 4 seconds to go, Coffey connected with senior Michael Moffatt on a deep seam route down the middle for a touchdown as time expired. The PAT was no good but Batavia led, 20-14.
"Coach just told me to go into the slot," Moffatt said. "That was going to be our one, deep pass that we had. I knew Micah was going to give me a chance and just throw it up for us because it was the end of the half so nothing could really happen too bad. So I knew the ball was coming to me, and I happened to run right by the safeties and the secondary."
While the play provided a major pick-me-up, the Bulldogs still weren't happy about a first half that was plagued by penalties and two red-zone interceptions by Coffey, one of which was returned 90 yards for a TD by Aaron Campbell.
"At halftime, we had I think six holding calls, four of which brought back I think about 100 yards of offense," Batavia coach Dennis Piron said. "So that I think was really a big part of that first half. Once we eliminated that holding thing, things were a lot better in the second half. They really couldn't stop our run."
Scaccia rushed 26 times for 175 yards and three TDs, and also caught a 21-yard touchdown pass early.
Coffey completed his first five passes and threw for 176 yards and three TDs. Piron's message to Coffey about the costly-at-the-time picks? Big deal.
" 'Don't lose your swagger – you're a great player,' " Piron said. "He's harder on himself than we ever could be."
BATAVIA 46, LARKIN 14
Batavia 7 13 6 20 – 46
Larkin 7 7 0 0 – 14
HOW THEY SCORED
B – Scaccia 21 pass from Coffey (Morgano kick), 10:23
L – Shipp 48 run (Jackson kick), 5:33
L – Campbell 90 interception return (Jackson kick), 11:42
B – Scaccia 8 run (Morgano kick), 8:36
B – Moffatt 45 pass from Coffey (kick failed), 0:00
B – Moffatt 1 pass from Coffey (pass fails), 3:13
B – Scaccia 10 run (Morgano kick), 11:54
B – Scaccia 3 run (kick failed), 6:10
B – Crowder 3 run (Aharoni kick), 2:40
RUSHING – Batavia: Scaccia 26-175, Coffey 4-37, Green 3-21, Moneghini 2-31, Crowder 4-31, Acosta 1-6. Totals: 40-301. Larkin: Clemons 9-22, Blalark 9-minus 46, Shipp 2-49, Tomlin 5-19. Totals: 25-44.
PASSING – Batavia: Coffey 14-19-2-176, Acosta 0-1-0-0. Totals: 14-20-2-176. Larkin: Blalark 11-18-1-139.
RECEIVING – Batavia: Zwart 4-34, Scaccia 1-21, Moffatt 5-75, Frazier 1-14, Knox 2-24, Green 1-8. Totals: 14-176. Larkin: Shipp 1-3, Hunter 4-71, Bonds 4-47, Topel 2-18. Totals: 11-139.
TOTAL OFFENSE – Batavia 477, Larkin 183