PERU — The Peru football team wasn’t going to let three two-touchdown deficits spoil its homecoming and Senior Day festivities Saturday.
The Indians (6-1, 7-0) needed 476 yards of total offense, including 35 second-half points, in their 49-42 come-from-behind defeat of Moriah in Champlain Valley Athletic Conference play.
“We’ve talked a lot about how extra effort is going to be what makes the rest of our season,” Peru coach Nick Damiani said. “This team, more than any other team I’ve coached in the past, has had to face more adversity than any other team. That’s the one thing this group as a core has done — is they’ve really kind of bought into that extra-effort mentality and always believe in themselves.
“When you get down by two touchdowns, a lot of teams can just kind of fold and say, ‘it’s not our day, and we’ll just get it next week.’ But this group bounced back and that starts from the top with our senior leaders.”
Down 42-35 with less than six minutes remaining in the fourth quarter, Indians wide receiver Patrick LaRocque hauled in an incredible, one-handed catch from quarterback Blake Altizer.
Facing a one-point disadvantage, Damiani elected to go for the two-point conversion on the ensuing play. Rolling out of the pocket, Altizer found Zane Bazzano near the pylon, giving Peru its first lead since going up 14-13 in the second quarter.
“You coach a tie game different than you do a game where you’re down by one or up by one,” Damiani said. “We went for two, believing in the guys to get the job done and we got it. So now that puts them (Moriah) down by one, so now they’ve got to press a little bit. Then, we had a couple turnovers that obviously went our way at the end that allowed us to get up by that last touchdown.”
Peru got off to a rough start, though. With less than three minutes gone in the first quarter, the Indians lost wide receiver and defensive back Anthony Gallo to a significant forearm injury.
The Vikings (3-4) were able to jump out to a 13-0 lead on touchdowns from Troy Welch and Tyler Pratt.
“It always stinks to see a guy (go) down like that,” Bazzano said. “He’s one of our brothers, and we want to see him be all right and still be apart of this team. But that’s what it always is — it’s next man up from day one to Week 13.”
Bazzano was the catalyst for Peru on offense. With Gallo absent from the lineup, the senior accumulated 256 all-purpose yards and three touchdowns.
Bazzano, who typically lines up at wide receiver, registered 18 carries for 167 yards and one touchdown in his final game at the Apple Bowl.
“Zane’s pretty much done whatever we’ve asked of him over the four years I’ve had an opportunity to coach him,” Damiani said. “He hasn’t had lots of reps at the tailback position. But when you get guys injured, we’ve got to move some guys around. So we stuck him back in there and (with) the offensive line firing off the ball, we were able to run the football.”
Moriah was able to record 42 points on six touchdowns, tying for the most points scored by an opposing team at the Apple Bowl since Nov. 15, 2003. It was also the third consecutive game the Vikings amassed 42 points.
“Cole (Gaddor) spread the ball around well offensively in that first half,” Moriah coach Don Tesar said. “The kids played hard offensively, and we executed much better than I thought we would. Bazzano, he’s a heck of a ballplayer. He presented a tough matchup for us.”
Altizer was 13-for-21 with 209 yards, four touchdowns and one interception through the air.
Gaddor paced the Vikings, going 9-for-13 with 180 yards and two touchdowns. Welch added 105 yards and one touchdown on 25 carries.
The game featured a combined 91 points on 13 touchdowns and 777 yards of total offense.
With Plattsburgh High folding after Week 3, Peru will receive a bye next weekend.
Damiani said he could schedule a nonleague game, but won’t due to the current condition of his team’s health.
“My intention was to (schedule a nonleague game), but being as dinged up as we are, I’ve got to get guys healthy,” Damiani said. “We’ve got to make some adjustments to scheme and makeup for some of the injuries. So we’re not playing a game next week.”
Peru 49, Moriah 42
Moriah 13 15 7 7 — 42
Peru 0 14 21 14 — 49
M- Welch 1 run (MacDougal kick), 7:43.
M- Pratt 67 pass from Gaddor (kick blocked), 11:14.
P- Hendricks 15 run (Guay kick), 2:37.
P- Bazzano 29 pass from Altizer (Guay kick), 6:34.
M- Gaddor 30 punt return (Pratt from Gaddor), 9:11.
M- Garnica 11 pass from Gaddor (MacDougal kick), 10:13.
P- Hendricks 75 kick return (kick blocked), 0:13.
M- Raymond 1 run (MacDougal kick), 3:17.
P- Bazzano 42 run (Guay kick), 3:42.
P- Bazzano 56 pass from Altizer (Hendricks from Altizer), 10:40.
M- Welch 16 run (MacDougal kick), 0:54.
P- P. LaRocque 20 pass from Altizer (Bazzano from Altizer), 6:20.
P- Landon 26 pass from (kick failed), 9:40.
M- Welch 25-105, 2TD; Raymond 3-10, TD; Pratt 2-3; No. 28 1-2; Gaddor 2-1. Totals: 33-121, 3TD.
P- Bazzano 18-167, TD; Hendricks 14-63, TD; Landon 5-62; Wyckoff 1-2; Altizer 4-(-27). Totals: 42-267, 2TD.
M- Gaddor 9-13-0-180, 2TD.
P- Altizer 13-21-1-209, 4TD.
M- Pratt 2-79, TD; Garnica 4-65, TD; Petro 3-36.
P- Bazzano 4-89, 2TD; Hendricks 2-47; Landon 2-40, TD; P. LaRocque 4-26, TD; Guay 1-7.