Salamanca produces a Senior Night stunner, 24-12, over Olean

SALAMANCA — Paul Haley called it the best win in his four years as head coach for Salamanca football, and it’s easy to see why.

Friday night at Veterans Memorial Park, the Warriors scored one of the most impressive Big 30 upsets of the season on their Senior Night, knocking off Class B Olean, 24-12, in non-league play. The Huskies (3-3) ranked fourth in this week’s Times Herald Big 30 large school rankings while the Warriors (3-3) were fifth among Big 30 small schools.

Senior running back Xavier Taylor marked a career high with 153 rushing yards on 20 carries for the Warriors. Quarterback Zariah Armstrong ran for two touchdowns and running back Ira John (83 total yards) ran for another, all from 1 yard out, while Salamanca built a 24-6 lead early in the fourth quarter after leading 8-6 at halftime.

“I've been telling these kids, 'We're just a couple plays here and there and we've got to clean this up and we've got to do this ...'” Haley said. “Finally this week it just came together. These kids need it. They had a good week of practice. It's just exciting. I'm so happy for especially our seniors, on Senior Night to come out and play a game like this on this field for what could be their last time, it's for them. They deserved it, they earned it and I hope they enjoy it for a long time.”

Salamanca won with two traditional football principles: run the ball and stop the run (the Warriors outgained Olean 252-65 on the ground) and, perhaps just as importantly, take care of the ball. Salamanca feasted on six turnovers, including three interceptions, while turning it over once on a late fumble into the end zone for a touchback.

“All credit goes to Salamanca,” said OHS coach Phil Vecchio. “They played football a lot harder than we did tonight. They took it to us. I was a little disappointed in some things, obviously turnovers happen, you just hope you don't have an avalanche of them like we did tonight. But once again, I thought Salamanca outplayed us and outhustled us all night long.”

Olean lost a fumble on its first drive with a botched shotgun snap, but made a goal-line stand on fourth down at its own 4. However, the Huskies went three-and-out on their next drive before Salamanca scored its first touchdown, a Zariah Armstrong quarterback sneak, and went up 8-0.

The Huskies answered with a 60-yard scoring drive on their next possession, an Alex Weakfall 1-yard sneak, but Olean wouldn’t score again until the game’s final minute, trailing by three touchdowns.