Weekly Feature



2017-11-09 / Sports

Central gridders edge Maryvale in OT for ‘B’ title

JASON NADOLINSKI
Sports Reporter


Cheektowaga quarterback KeShone Beal rumbles into the end zone for one of his three rushing touchdowns during the Warriors’ 28-27 overtime triumph over crosstown rival Maryvale in Saturday’s Section VI Federation Class B title game at New Era Field. 
Photo by Jason NadolinskiPurchase color photos at www.BeeNews.com Cheektowaga quarterback KeShone Beal rumbles into the end zone for one of his three rushing touchdowns during the Warriors’ 28-27 overtime triumph over crosstown rival Maryvale in Saturday’s Section VI Federation Class B title game at New Era Field. Photo by Jason NadolinskiPurchase color photos at www.BeeNews.com Cheektowaga’s elation was crosstown rival Maryvale’s heartbreak in Saturday’s Section VI Federation Class B title game at New Era Field.

In what’s sure to go down as an instant classic in the schools’ series, Taivaughn Roach and Adam Bellaus combined to bring down Rashad Law short of the goal line on Maryvale’s two-point conversion attempt to preserve the Warriors’ 28-27 overtime victory.

Maryvale quarterback Connor Desiderio’s 25-yard scramble on a broken play put the Flyers in position to either try to extend the game to a second overtime, or go for the all-out win. Flyers coach Jeff Buccieri took stock of his squad and decided that their best chance to win was to go for it right there, and even with how the conversion attempt played out, he really doesn’t think he would do things differently, if given the chance.

“Going all the way back to the third quarter, they were starting to bleed us defensively,” Buccieri said. “We felt the tide of game was turning and that their size was starting to get the better of us to where we felt we couldn’t sustain going toe-to-toe with them anymore defensively. So, on the spur of the moment, I felt if we were going to win, we needed to go for it. It is what it is, but it hurts.

“When you’re playing a team that won two of the last three championship games played at the stadium, you can’t play tentatively,” Buccieri continued. “They had the momentum after scoring first, and they were taking it to us. I just felt if it went to another overtime that we couldn’t hang with them, so we needed to go for it then. It was our best opportunity to win at that time, and we didn’t go to finish second. It didn’t materialize for us this time, but we’ll use it as motivation for the future.”


Maryvale’s Ray Blackwell focuses on the ball while bringing in a 31-yard touchdown pass during Saturday’s 28-27 overtime loss to crosstown rival Cheektowaga in the Class B title game at New Era Field. Blackwell finished his only season of varsity football with program single-season receiving records for yards (845), catches (35) and touchdowns (11). 
Photo by Jason NadolinskiPurchase color photos at www.BeeNews.com Maryvale’s Ray Blackwell focuses on the ball while bringing in a 31-yard touchdown pass during Saturday’s 28-27 overtime loss to crosstown rival Cheektowaga in the Class B title game at New Era Field. Blackwell finished his only season of varsity football with program single-season receiving records for yards (845), catches (35) and touchdowns (11). Photo by Jason NadolinskiPurchase color photos at www.BeeNews.com Cheektowaga, which last scored with 48 seconds to play in the third quarter on KeShone Beal’s 4-yard run, made the most of its chance when it got the ball to start the extra session. Beal, who finished the game with 154 yards and three touchdowns on 23 carries, closed out the Warriors’ scoring efforts on the day with his 2-yard plunge into the end zone.

“KeShone is just a good player, an even-keeled kid who everybody else looks at to make plays when they need to be made,” Central coach Mike Fatta said. “We scored pretty quickly on three straight runs and then were feeling pretty good about our defensive effort on Maryvale’s possession until they broke that long run on third down to score pretty quickly. Their choice to go for two was also pretty sudden and didn’t leave us with a lot of time to think. We had a timeout we could use, depending on how they came out, but when we saw how they lined up, we decided to just let it ride. Fortunately, we were able to make the play we needed to in order to get the win.

“It was just an exciting game and something that we’ll definitely remember for years to come with how it went to overtime and it was against Maryvale,” Fatta continued. “Those factors made it a bit more of a unique matchup compared with some of our other title runs.”

As has been the case any time these teams have met in the recent past, the game played out in a back-and-forth slugfest type of style. Maryvale set the tone halfway through the first quarter on a 12-yard run by Jay Henley, but the Warriors responded just two minutes into the second quarter on Jaquan Bush’s 1-yard run that knotted the score at 7-7.

The third quarter was by far the most active on the scoreboard for both squads, with Central taking its first lead of the day, 14-7, on a 24-yard run by Beal about halfway through the frame. Ray Blackwell knotted the score at 14-14 not even two minutes later on a 31-yard reception from Desiderio that capped a five-play, 80-yard drive, but the Warriors were still able to get one final score before the end of the stanza on Beal’s second scoring run of the game.

Dylan Casey’s 27-yard reception from Desiderio just a minute and a half into the fourth quarter once again put the score in a deadlock, 21-21, that neither team was able to break throughout the rest of regulation, despite both teams having chances.

“We felt like they really handled us in the week seven game, but this time it was both teams exchanging blows, going back and forth, and it came down to who would have final momentum to seal the deal,” Buccieri said. “Last time we met, they made it their mission to take away Ray [Blackwell] and keep a really close watch on Dylan, but this game they had all the attention on Rashad and that opened things up for Dylan, Jay and Ray to have big games and make plays for us. Our line did a much better job of pass protecting too, and Connor had a great game throwing the ball for us too. When we can give him time, he can put the ball in a nice window for our receivers.

“We definitely are very proud of these young men who left it all on the field,” Buccieri continued. “We challenged them in December after last year’s first-round loss to take our program to the next level, and these guys definitely did that. We haven’t won two playoff games in the same year since 2006, but we did — along with winning our first home playoff game since 2006 — to get to the stadium for the first time in 11 years. Coming out of the tunnel and being on that field, hearing the crowd roar, that’s something none of us will ever forget.”

Beal, who now has a combined 2,492 yards of passing and rushing yards on the year, as well as 38 total touchdowns, completed 8-of-16 passes for 83 yards. Bush chipped in with 71 yards on 13 carries, while Tommy Zolnowski had two catches for 43 yards. Jaquan Pugh caught four passes for 34 yards for the Warriors.

Defensively, Kasean Anthony had 12 total tackles (6 solo; 4 for loss) and a sack, while Javaughn William added 10 total tackles (5 solo). Caleb Graves had six total tackles (2 solo; 2 for loss), a sack and a fumble recovery, while Terrance Bass had two tackles for losses among his eight total stops for the Warriors, who will face Hornell at 4 p.m. Saturday in the Class B Far West Regional contest at Brockport State College.

Hornell, which has fluctuated between Class B and C for the better part of a decade, defeated Cheektowaga in the Warriors’ first trip to the regional round in 2009.

“They were definitely a pretty powerful program in the past, but they took a dip a bit when their old coach left — but they’re back on the rise,” Fatta said of Hornell. “They seem like they’re a power running team and just one of the biggest teams we’ll see actually, so we’ll have to be ready to defend what they try to do on the ground. We’re really just focusing on how if we want to reach our potential we have to do everything we can to continue to improve this week. We need to make sure we’re focusing on us and being the best team we can be. We can’t be satisfied with where we are currently.”

Maryvale, meanwhile, saw Desiderio finish with 240 yards through the air on 10-of-15 passing. Blackwell snagged four of those passes for 100 yards, while Casey had three catches for 80 yards to go along with 51 yards on 11 carries. Law caught two passes for 49 yards to go along with his 43 yards on 16 carries. Henley led Maryvale’s ground game with 60 yards on nine carries.

Defensively, Nick Costanzo had 14 total tackles (8 solo) to lead the Flyers’ cause, while Montell Ferguson added 11 total tackles (8 solo). Blackwell and Synceir Middlebrooks each chipped in with 11 total tackles (7 solo each), while Chad Beyer finished with seven total tackles (5 solo) and a sack. Casey (6 tackles, 4 solo) and Henley each added an interception, while Austin Majewski had a sack for the Flyers, who finished the season 8-2 overall and will lose a handful of seniors to graduation.

“I just think that I couldn’t be more proud of these guys for taking us to the next level,” Buccieri said. “We’ve been flirting with getting to the stadium in the recent past, and it’s been a tough process to get to where we were this year, but they’ve laid a nice blueprint for future teams to follow. The guys we have coming back from this team just need to dust themselves off and rise up, continue the work that they’ve done this year and keep moving in the right direction to do even better things.”

email: jnadolinski@beenews.com

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