SKANEATELES — The Lakers used the air to their advantage.

Patrick Hackler threw for six touchdowns and nearly 300 yards to lead the Skaneateles football team over Port Byron/Union Springs, 48-14, at Skaneateles High School Friday night.

For Skaneateles head coach Joe Sindoni, the Panthers’ focus on limiting the Lakers running game made them take the game to the air.

“We seek balance, but they came out and loaded the box and stayed with a loaded box most of the game, so we felt that’s what they gave us,” Sindoni said. “We want to just take what they gave us.”

Hackler recorded with 289 yards passing, with the primary target being Nick Wamp. The sophomore receiver finished with 218 yards and four touchdowns.

“He made some throws tonight,” Sindoni said of Hackler. “There were also some throws — and Pat being Pat — he’s beating himself up more over the ones he missed than the ones he hit. We made some big plays — some long strike plays — but I thought in a lot of instances we were sloppy offensively.”

Port Byron/Union Springs quarterback Nick Valentino registered 63 yards rushing with one touchdown, while Ryan Gilbert rushed for 43 yards.

For Panthers head coach Rob Piascik, the loss came down to more than what happened on Friday night.

“The message was going to be the same whether we won or lost the game,” Piascik said after the game. “We didn’t have a good week of practice, and if you don’t prepare with a plan to win, you lose.”

The Lakers made a statement early.

Hackler capped Skaneateles’ first drive with a 20-yard touchdown pass to Cross Bianchi seven minutes into the first quarter. After the Lakers recovered a fumble on the Panthers’ next drive, Hackler connected with Wamp for a 36-yard touchdown pass.

Wellington caught a 26-yard touchdown pass and the Lakers took a 20-0 lead into the second quarter.

“The thing that concerned us with these guys was they haven’t lost in a long time,” Sindoni said of the Panthers, who were undefeated and National Football Foundation champions last season. “They had a very lopsided victory last week, and we knew they were going to come in here with a lot of confidence and it was important for us to get that momentum early and we did.”

Hackler continued to pick apart the Panthers’ secondary, and had two touchdown passes to Wamp — from 50 and 33 yards — to give Skaneateles a 34-0 advantage at halftime.

Bianchi returned the second half kickoff 85 yards to the end zone, and Hackler tossed his sixth touchdown pass of the night — 37-yarder to Nathan Wellington — less than eight minutes later.

Valentino capped a Panthers’ drive with a 5-yard touchdown run on the first play of the fourth quarter and Gilbert rushed five yards for a touchdown with 5:09 left, but the Lakers kept a firm control on the scoreboard for the win.

“We’ll come back tomorrow morning and refocus,” Piascik said. “I told the boys: You don’t win a game on Friday night without winning a game on Saturday morning, Sunday rest, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday. You don’t win those games just on Friday night. You win them with a week of work.”

Port Byron/Union Springs (1-1) faces Southern Hills next week, while Skaneateles (2-0) takes on Hannibal.

“I know nothing about Hannibal,” Sindoni said. “What we talk about here is — obviously you want to prepare for the week-to-week opponent — but my bigger focus is on getting better. Are we better this week than we were last week? That’s what the focus is going to continue to be on.”

Sports writer Jeremy Houghtaling can be reached at 315-282-2256 or at jeremy.houghtaling@lee.net. Follow him on Twitter @CitizenHough.

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