McAuley's kick sends Salamanca to 23-21 win at Maple Grove

BEMUS POINT — Hunter McAuley got a chance to show his field-goal kicking ability for the first time at the most dramatic moment Friday night.

McAuley, a senior on Salamanca’s boys soccer and football teams, kicked extra points and kickoffs for coach Paul Haley’s Warriors this fall. But with the last game of the regular season on the line, Haley gave McAuley his first chance at a field goal. So with five seconds to play, McAuley made a 27-yard field goal to give the Warriors a 23-21 victory over Maple Grove in a preview of next week’s Section 6 Class D semifinals.

"That's his first attempt at a field goal ever,” said Haley, the fourth-year head coach. He's been making 40-yarders pretty consistently in practice and we had it in our heads that we had to get to the 23-yard line to give him a legitimate shot at it. Tristen Gillette had a huge run, Xavier (Taylor) had a nice run and we got down, spiked it, kicked it and let it rip."

Maple Grove won 49-22 at Salamanca in Week 3 and both teams knew they would face each other for a third time before Friday’s regular season finale. While the Warriors (4-4 overall) and Red Dragons (5-3) both finished 3-3 in league play, Maple Grove earned the No. 2 seed behind unbeaten Clymer/Sherman/Panama based on adjusted point differential.

While Salamanca played to win, Haley hopes the Warriors have more to show in the semifinals as they return to Bemus Point.

"We didn't want to show too much and I think we did a fairly good job of that. But that being said, our success comes from just lining up and powering the football so I think that's how our team operates best, lining up and going and getting it and playing good defense. We did that today.”

Maple Grove took a 14-0 lead before Tyler Hedlund put Salamanca on the board just before halftime with a 30-yard touchdown catch from Lucas McKenna. Tristen Gillette (74 total rushing yards) scored a pair of 1-yard rushing touchdowns in the second half, the latter cutting Maple Grove’s lead to 21-20 in the fourth quarter. Haley called a two-point conversion to try to take the lead, but the run ended up “about a foot short,” he said. Still, he didn’t regret the decision.

“Our defense played really great,” Haley said. “That's why I didn't hesitate to go for a 2 on that. The way our defense has been playing, if we get up by one point, I like our chances, we like our chances."

Hedlund caught four passes for 94 yards and had an interception at safety. Taylor added 74 rushing yards and Ira John ran for 71 yards.