MANLIUS – Fulton came into Friday’s game at Bureau Valley with two things in mind – win to become playoff eligible, and then hope its name is called during Saturday night’s playoff pairings.
The first step was accomplished in Manlius.
Behind a rushing attack that piled up 413 yards, the Steamers earned their fifth win of the season, and first winning season since 2007, with a 55-14 victory over the Storm.
Fulton coach Patrick Lower said his team will get together on Saturday to watch the pairings. The Steamers will be on the lower end of playoff points among five-win teams, and are hoping for luck to be on their side.
“It doesn’t look good,” Lower said. “We need a lot of help. We are going to plan on being in until they tell us we are not. Hopefully things go our way, and we can sneak in there.”
Fulton (5-4, 3-3) never trailed against the Storm (3-6, 2-4). After taking a 7-0 lead in the first quarter, the Steamers lit up the scoreboard for 48 points in the middle two quarters to secure the win.
Austin Regenwether ran for four touchdowns (23, 29, 4, 15) and totaled a game-high 183 yards rushing, putting him over 2,000 yards on the ground for his career.
His second and third touchdown runs of the game came in the final 6 minutes of the first half, and gave the Steamers some breathing room going into the break, turning a 13-7 lead into a three-possession game.
Fulton then put the game out of reach early in the third quarter. After electing for a re-kick after Tommy Johnston’s second half kickoff went out of bounds, Jason Osborn took Johnston’s second try for 83 yards up the middle and into the end zone.
“They made us re-kick, and we got the ball up in the air a little too much and [Osborn] took it back,” Bureau Valley coach Jeff Ohlson said. “It’s a situation where we didn’t do the things we needed to do.”
The Steamers weren’t done, scoring two more times in the first 5 minutes of the third quarter, taking advantage of a Storm fumble and then recovering an onside kick.
Devin Kuehl scored two of his three touchdowns in the third quarter and, along with Regenwether, went over the century mark on the ground with 141 yards. Quarterback Ethan Jones added 76 yards on seven carries.
“It starts up front with our offensive linemen; they’ve done a nice job all year,” Lower said.
“We’ve been having problems stopping the run,” Ohlson said.“We’ve tried about every defense imaginable in practice. We worked on tackling in practice every day. It’s frustrating for these guys, because they’ve worked extremely hard.”
The Storm’s two scores came on a second-quarter 16-yard touchdown pass from Parker Neuhalfen to Jake Smith, and a 28-yard touchdown run by Johnston in the fourth quarter.
Johnston led the Storm running game with 96 yards on 13 carries.