HORSEHEADS - Horseheads held off a comeback attempt from Binghamton to earn its fifth win of the season and secure an over .500 regular season record for the second time in as many years with a 35-28 victory at home Saturday.
“It’s good that we can put [winning seasons] two back to back,” Horseheads head coach Kevin Hillman said. “That’s kind of our goal year in and year out is to be a winning program. That’s kind of one of the things you check off.”
The milestone victory wasn’t without pressure situations.
With a comfortable three-score lead of 35-14 with eight minutes left in the game, Binghamton put together a 14-play 58-yard drive ending with a Cequan Johnson 8-yard touchdown throw to Michael Amar-Ward to pull the Patriots to within 35-20 with 3:19 to go.
A squib kick beaten into the ground the ensuing kickoff bounced off multiple Horseheads defenders and into the hands of Binghamton.
The Patriots promptly scored three plays later when 6-foot-4 inch Cobie Young came down with a jump ball for a 54-yard touchdown that shrunk the Blue Raider lead to 35-28 after a successful 2-point conversion with 1:53 left.
Binghamton forced a three-and-out, but time expired on as the Patriots returned the punt and Horseheads locked down coverage on the return.
“Definitely got my heart rate up,” said Hillman of the ending.
“Gotta hand it to the kids there at the end though,” Hillman said. “We punted the ball with a couple seconds left and they got the ball in their hands and we made a great tackle.”
The first three and a half quarters was a balanced offensive showing from Horseheads.
After 343 yards on the ground against Vestal last week, Gavin Elston wasted little time getting started with a 76-yard touchdown run up the gut a minute into the game.
“I think it was huge to get the momentum on our side a little bit,” said Hillman. “It was something we were hoping to do.”
Quarterback Grayson Woodhouse threw three touchdowns for the Blue Raiders including a 16-yard toss to Max Stansfield off of one foot while pressured that upped Horseheads’ advantage to 14-0 after a quarter.
Woodhouse and Stansfield connected on a 55-yard catch-and-run score later in the game on a slant over the middle that featured Stansfield sprinting 30 yards untouched without defender in the proximity.
Stansfield, who was bothered by a leg injury earlier in the season, had three receptions for 91 yards and adds a deep threat to a Horseheads offense that already has playmakers all over the field.
“Now that he gets healthy, it adds another element to our offense now,” said Hillman. “Early in the game, they had [Cobie] Young on [wide receiver] Andrew McLaughlin to try and take him away. That just opens up Max on the other side and when you have Gavin [Elston] and Ryan Scott made some plays.”
Scott contributed two touchdowns, a 16-yard touchdown reception and a 10-yard run that required extra effort through multiple Binghamton defenders.
In all, Woodhouse threw for 156 yards and Horseheads had 206 rushing yards as a team.
“This can be a pretty dynamic offense when everyone is clicking,” Hillman said.
Minus the last seven minutes of the fourth quarter, Horseheads’ defense was stout with seven sacks.
“They thought they played real well,” said Hillman. “They were out there a lot at the end. They battled all day and our defensive line did their job and got pressure.”
Horseheads (5-2) finishes its regular season at home against Ithaca Saturday at 1:30 p.m.