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Warriors catch Watkins Glen/O-M in final minute

Ira John’s 4-touchdown night lifts Salamanca to 34-28 Homecoming win

Paul Haley said it was about time his offense carried the Salamanca football defense for a change. Ira John’s rushing effort just about carried the whole team Friday night in a thrilling non-league Homecoming win.

John rushed in his fourth touchdown of the night to give the Warriors (with an extra point kick from Austin Reyes) a 34-28 victory as the final horn sounded 22 seconds later. The junior, who started the season at wide receiver but moved to the backfield in Week 3, finished with 24 carries for 218 yards and four touchdowns.

John and coach Paul Haley each credited the offensive line — tackles Lee John and Dylan Jimerson, guards Tristan Gillette and Brandon Rea and center Asa John — for the breakout rushing effort.

“We switched our line around and those guys just... I don't know what it was,” Haley said. “We've been tinkering with those guys all year and we found a chemistry tonight. That team out-sized us down the line, we had to have been out-weighed 50 pounds apiece on the line but we just blew off and took charge. Jeremiah Shoup blocking from the fullback spot, Braden Siebert from the tight end spot, Ira running the ball, our split guys Tyler (Hedlund) and Nick (Johnson) keeping them honest with our passes, it came together. We've been saying for how long that we wanted to play four quarters of football, if that's not four quarters, I don't know what is.”

A visibly exhausted Ira John finished the game despite a handful of injury scares — cramps and a bruised knee — and dedicated the win to his grandfather, Leland John, who he honors with an “LJ” written on his wristband.

“I am drained out, a couple cramps in both calves and my knee's a little bruised, but I wasn't going to come out of this game,” he said. “This is just for everyone that doubted us. Most especially this is for my grandpa... I wish he got to see me (play). Every yard, every carry, every touchdown was for him.

“I just love them to death,” he added of the line. “They did all the work for me.”

John’s go-ahead touchdown was the fourth and final lead change of the fourth quarter after Salamanca (3-2, 2-2) entered the final 12 minutes leading 20-18. Leading 27-26, the Warriors got a fourth-down stop at their own 5-yard line, but three straight negative rushes gave WG/O-M a safety to retake a 28-27 lead.

From there, Hedlund made two game-saving plays, first recovering the safety free kick along Salamanca’s sideline to set up the Warriors with at their 47. Later on the drive, Hedlund pulled down a jump ball pass from Zariah Armstrong at the WG/O-M 1 for a 27-yard gain with 36 seconds left. After a 1-yard loss, John rushed to the his