Salamanca pulls out late stunner over Southwestern

On a night when Salamanca football honored its past, the Warriors of the present delivered a thrilling victory in front of their Veterans Memorial Park fans.

The Warriors played Southwestern to a scoreless first half before trading second-half touchdowns with the Trojans. Salamanca fell behind twice, but both times had touchdown drives to answer. The last score, a 4-yard Jesse Stahlman run followed by a two-point conversion pass from freshman backup quarterback Maddox Isaac to Zaron Tucker, put the Warriors ahead for the first time with 13 seconds left en route to a 14-13 victory.

Salamanca lost its senior quarterback, Hayden Hoag, for the rest of the game in the third quarter on an apparent knee injury he sustained on defense. The Warriors mostly tried to get by without a quarterback, instead utilizing Stahlman — their lead tailback — as a direct snap runner. But Stahlman went 1-for-1 as a passer, hitting Cole Hedlund for a 15-yard score in the first quarter to tie Southwestern at 6-6.

But Salamanca lost a fumble on its next drive and stalled out on the following possession before a go-ahead Southwestern score with 2:48 to play, so coach Chad Bartoszek turned to the freshman Isaac, who dressed but he planned to hold out for the junior varsity game the next day.

“Senior leader, captain goes down with a knee late, so you run whatever you've got,” Bartoszek said. “We don't really have a backup, that was a freshman that led us on that drive, did not want to put him in. He's ready, you could see, but just kind of a self principle (I) don't like playing a freshman, but it was time. We wanted to get to overtime. We could have ran Jesse every play, but once they scored, we had to open it up. “

Isaac answered the call, leading a 70-yard touchdown drive with 2-for-3 passing for 58 yards, including a 50-yard pass to Hedlund that set up Stahlman’s touchdown run.

“It was a modified season, but he led an undefeated modified season last year,” Bartoszek said of Isaac. “Everyone knows who he is in our program. He's fantastic, a great athlete, good kid. I'm always thinking about the health and wellness of our boys, but he was physically ready and our coaches just kept telling me ‘you've got to put him in.’ We were actually going to run that play (a waggle to Tucker for the two-point conversion) the first time we scored. That's just part of me maybe protecting these guys, but he's ready. He just did that against a premiere program in the Cs right now.”

Stahlman finished the night with 28 carries for 128 yards with a rushing and passing touchdown.