Warriors edge T-Wolves again, 14-6, for control of third place
CATTARAUGUS — Gaining its initial first down of the night late in the second quarter, the Salamanca football team started slowly Friday night.
But after falling behind 6-0 to Cattaraugus-Little Valley, it only took two offensive plays for the Warriors to wrestle control of the Section 6 Class D matchup and third place in the division after a 14-6 Salamanca victory. Salamanca controlled the turnover battle, 6-1, with four interceptions, and scored on touchdowns of 46 and 60 yards to put away C-LV for the second time this season.
Salamanca’s (2-3, 2-2) Kawliga Stahlman recovered a fumble at his own 15 to keep it a one-score game in the second quarter. After going three and out, the Warriors stopped C-LV on fourth down leading into a 70-yard touchdown drive on Xavier Taylor’s 46-yard run. With an 8-6 halftime lead following Taylor’s two-point conversion catch from Zariah Armstrong, Salamanca scored again on a 60-yard catch and run by Tyler Hedlund from Armstrong for a 14-6 lead, which it held through the second half.
Warriors coach Paul Haley expressed frustration with the slow start and penalties which continued throughout the night to the tune of 11 flags for 100 yards.
“We started to get a little momentum, we got that fumble (in the second quarter) and they started getting a little fired up,” Haley said. “It's the same thing, we can't seem to start a game fast or if we do, then we get a lull. Penalties killed us tonight. We're starting every drive 1st and 15; it's tough, especially when they're bringing the house on blitzes.
“But we switched some kids around, we had some younger guys really step up for us tonight. We had two freshmen and a sophomore at the guards and center so they really stepped up for us once we got rolling. Ira (John) had a good run called back. The penalties were brutal. We're not a smart football team right now.”
Taylor led the team with six carries for 78 yards and a touchdown and John tallied 16 carries for 53 yards. Hedlund had all three of the Warrior’s catches for 67 yards.
While Armstrong was just 3-of-9 passing, he helped extend drives as a runner including a 13-yard bootleg in the fourth quarter while the Warriors tried to run the clock out.
Despite the penalties and slow start, Haley called it a “gritty performance” with a handful of players suspended for a disciplinary issue while John played through a broken pinkie with a cast on.
“(Ira) never got cleared to do anything until Thursday, midway through practice and of course he's somewhat limited because he's got that cast on so it's tough for him to get pitches and catch passes out of the backfield which we like to do with him,” Haley said. “But he toughed it out for us. Xavier had some real nice runs tonight. Tristen doesn't get a lot of carries but when he does he makes them count. It really helps when he's popping it up the middle, he runs so tough. And then I thought Zariah had some good runs.”
Jarrett McKenna intercepted two passes in the first half while his brother Lucas picked off a pass late in the second, as did Ira John on the next C-LV drive, both on desperate heaves downfield.
C-LV (1-4, 0-4) had 96 total yards, led by Sam Grey’s 30 rushing yards. But Grey, who scored four touchdowns on Monday night against Maple Grove, missed most of the second half with an apparent injury.
Quarterback Jake Harris scored the T-Wolves’ touchdown on a five-yard sneak in the first quarter. A pair of personal foul penalties, including a roughing the passer on a potential fourth-down stop, extended the drive.
In two seasons since Salamanca dropped to Class D, it’s played Cattaraugus-Little Valley four times now including three one-score games, but the Warriors have won all four. In Week 1, Salamanca rallied after a late fumble recovery and last-minute touchdown in a 26-20 win.
That both of Salamanca’s touchdowns came on third-and-long situations (third and 14 in the second quarter, third and 18 in the third) added to Timberwolves coach Tim Miller’s frustration.
“It's so frustrating to play two or three good downs of defense and have them where you want them, in a hole, and then mess it up on the next play,” Miller said. “It's frustrating and it deflates your soul a little bit when you're playing 'We got 'em, we got 'em ... oops, we don't got 'em.' That was kind of the story of the night for us: we play two good downs and then mess it up on the third.”
Now two games behind Salamanca, the T-Wolves are likely to finish last in the four-team Class D division, but still have three weeks to prepare for the playoffs including rematches with first-place Clymer/Sherman/Panama and Maple Grove. Miller wants to see his team eliminate mistakes.
“We're not a good enough team to have to fight two battles on the field, one against the other team and one against our own mistakes,” he said. “We've got to eliminate those. We have to play perfect football to give ourselves a chance and hopefully that means we haven't played our best football yet. We're going to keep digging and keep trying to see if we can get it right.”
Salamanca 0 8 6 0 — 14
Cattaraugus-LV 6 0 0 0 — 6
Cattaraugus-Little Valley - Jake Harris 5 run (8 plays, 46 yards); pass failed, 6-0
Salamanca - Xavier Taylor 46 run (5 plays, 70 yards); Taylor pass from Zariah Armstrong, 6-8
Salamanca - Tyler Hedlund 60 pass from Armstrong (3 plays, 52 yards); pass failed, 6-14
First Downs 10 8
Rushes-Yards 41-152 31-68
Passing Yards 67 28
Comp-Att.-Int. 3-12-0 2-11-4
Total Offense 219 96
Fumbles-Lost 3-1 2-2
Penalties-Yards 11-100 4-40
Punts-Avg. 4-27.3 3-33.3
Total Plays 53 42