Warriors hold off Cardinals, clinch No. 3 seed
Lucus Brown’s week began with a selection to the Big 30 Basketball All-Star First Team. It ended with a standout two-way performance, collecting two touchdown catches and two interceptions to pace the Salamanca football team past Randolph Friday night.
The Warriors won a back-and-forth game with the Cardinals in a Section 6 Class D regular season finale, holding off Randolph 25-20.
After falling behind 13-0 in the first quarter, Randolph answered with two scores in the second quarter to lead 14-13. Salamanca retook the lead with a 58-yard strike from quarterback Lucas McKenna to Brown before halftime, and scored on a short field in the third quarter after Brown’s first of two interceptions.
Brown, a freshman in his second year of varsity football, had 84 receiving yards on his two catches, both touchdowns.
“We’ve made efforts to utilize him more and more over the course of the last several weeks,” Salamanca coach Chad Bartoszek said. “Passing is all about timing and he’s finally getting in sync with Lucas (McKenna). He’s a gifted athlete who is going to be special as he improves his wide receiver technique and learns exactly how to maximize his talent. (I’m) super proud of the way he played and helped us win tonight.”
McKenna, the Warriors’ senior quarterback, had 96 passing yards and 93 rushing, including a 14-yard run to score the game’s first touchdown on the opening drive.
Junior lineman Tre Turner also sparked a pair of turnovers for the Warriors with two fumble recoveries.
“We came out in the second half and kind of shot ourself in the foot on that very first possession and gave them a short field,” Cardinals coach Brent Brown said. “Then they capitalized on it. That's when it changed right there.”
Salamanca (3-2, 2-2) clinched the No. 3 seed in the Section 6 Class D playoffs with the win. Randolph (2-3, 2-2) could still make the playoffs at the fourth seed, needing Franklinville/Ellicottville to defeat Silver Creek/Forestville today.
“Very similar teams, both were physical, tough, flying to the ball,” Bartoszek said of the matchup with Randolph. “We expected a battle. I was real proud of the way we started. We came out and really took it to them. They're just, like they showed, they're a play away and they showed a little bit of that explosiveness they have.”
Both teams sustained multiple injuries that Bartoszek admitted but a damper on the game. Salamanca lost two of its lineman, Kody Shinners and Jarod White (the latter in the last minute of the game), and Randolph had two tailbacks, Xander Hind and Isaac Hind, leave the game.
“I think both teams are probably a little down right now because of injuries,” Bartoszek said. “I think it's hard to celebrate. They had a couple major ones and we've got some ankle injuries and things. We're excited, happy, but just a little injury bug that's putting a cloud over it.”
Both Hinds, Xander and Isaac, scored rushing touchdowns for the Cardinals in the second quarter. Xander Hind flashed his speed on a 44-yard run for the Cardinals’ first score, Isaac Hind punched in a 4-yard run on a fourth down later in the quarter.
Trailing 25-14, Randolph strung together a 10-play, 61-yard drive in the final two minutes, but could only score on the final play of regulation, an Ashton Bushey pass to Josh Bush.
Salamanca’s running game slowed down after Shinner’s injury in the first half. But the Warriors took back the lead on a deep pass to Brown in the second quarter. Then, in the third quarter, finished off a 28-yard drive after Brown’s first pick as Jessie Stahlman leapt over the pile at the goal line on a two-yard run.
“Losing Kody was tough. He's been on fire. He's been playing like a beast,” Bartoszek said. “The short field was huge for us, (it's huge) for any team. But getting that short field and then of course they had a couple injuries that really affected them offensively. Hopefully everything's all good.”
If F/E wins on Saturday, Salamanca would visit No. 2 Portville in the Class D semifinals. The Warriors played a strong first half in Portville last week, April 23, trailing 13-6, but fell apart in the second half of a 54-14 loss. Portville could not play this week due to a COVID pause, but hopes to have clearance to play by next weekend.
“We're expecting Portville up there,” Bartoszek said. “They're on pause, so we'll take a little time there. We're just going to get in the pool tomorrow and try to rehab. We've got to get healthy, we've got to be ready to roll because we could play a first half again (like last week), turn that into a full game, we've got a shot for sure.”
Randolph 0 14 0 6 — 20
Salamanca 13 6 6 0 — 25
Salamanca — Lucas McKenna 14 run (6 plays, 58 yards); Jarrett Pond kick, 7-0
Salamanca — Lucus Brown 25 pass from McKenna (7 plays, 41 yards); pass failed, 13-0
Randolph — Xander Hind 44 run (6 plays, 64 yards); Ethan Shields kick, 13-7
Randolph — Isaac Hind 4 run (6 plays, 63 yards); Shields kick, 13-14
Salamanca — Brown 58 pass from McKenna (5 plays, 58 yards); pass failed, 19-14
Salamanca — Jessie Stahlman 2 run (6 plays, 28 yards after Brown interception); run failed, 25-14
Randolph — Luke Pagett 12 pass from Ashton Bushey (10 plays, 61 yards); kick failed, 25-20
First Downs 18 14
Rushes-Yards 40-145 31-160
Passing Yards 77 96
Comp-Att-Int 5-11-2 4-11-0
Total Offense 222 256
Fumbles-Lost 3-2 0-0
Penalties-Yards 6-30 9-55
Punts-Avg 2-15 3-29
Total Plays 51 42
Sam Wilson, Salamanca Press