EAST HERKIMER, N.Y. (WKTV) - A big third quarter turned a frustrating game into a much-needed victory for Herkimer as it edged longtime neighbor and Class C East rival Ilion 16-15 on Friday.
Trailing 15-3 in the third, Herkimer had a 70-yard touchdown run by John Bellinger called back due to a holding penalty and was forced to punt, and at that point looked dead in the water. But then the Magicians' defense sparked a comeback, forcing a punt deep in Ilion territory that was returned to the Golden Bombers' 31 and set up a 31-yard Bellinger touchdown run and recovering a fumble on Ilion's ensuing possession at the Bombers' 14 that set up an 11-yard touchdown pass from Sean Crandall to Mike Fahy to put Herkimer ahead.
Ilion gave itself a last chance late in the fourth quarter when Josh Darling intercepted Crandall at Ilion's own 31 with 2:36 left. A big run got the Bombers to midfield, but back-to-back sacks by Bellinger cost Ilion 24 yards and a 4th down Hail Mary went incomplete to seal the victory.
The win is Herkimer's first of the season and improves it to 1-1 in league play and 1-2 overall. Ilion is still winless at 0-2 (0-3).
Ilion led 9-0 in the second quarter on a safety and an 8-yard Jon Treen touchdown run before Fahy kicked a 22-yard field goal in the final minute to make it 9-3 at the half. The Bombers increased their lead in the third on a 5-yard TD run by Shea Murphy that came after Herkimer fumbled away the opening kickoff of the second half.