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Monday, Dec. 2, 2013: M-E, Aquinas, Forks end on winning notes

   Leading off today: It took nearly the full 48 minutes, but the irresistable force finally overcame the immovable object.

   Maine-Endwell earned its third straight New York State Public High School Athletic Association championship Sunday, scoring a TD and 2-point conversion with :04 to play and beating Schalmont 22-21 in the Class B final at the Carrier Dome.

   Maine-Endwell extended its winning streak to 38 games as Kyle Gallagher threw a 5-yard touchdown pass to Jake Sinicki in the closing seconds and then threw the conversion pass to Darnell Woolfork.

   "This is pretty awesome," Gallagher, who completed five of six passes for 59 yards on the winning drive, told the Press & Sun-Bulletin. "If there's something better that happens the rest of my career in sports, it'll be pretty amazing because this is an absolutely amazing feeling."

   Schalmont led 14-0 at halftime, holding M-E to two first downs and just 61 yards of offense and possessing the ball for 15:26.

   M-E clawed its way back into the game, tying the game at 14 midway through the fourth quarter on Trevor Garbelman's 1-yard run with 5:56 to play. But Schalmont's Trevon Perez-Tucker returned a punt 58 yards for a touchdown with 1:20 remaining in the game to give the Sabres the lead again at 21-14.

   After the ensuing kickoff, three Gallagher completions and a Woolfork run put the Spartans at the Schalmont 18. On third-and-1 with :32 to go, Gallagher found Woolfork out on the flat for a first down to the 6.

   On third down, Gallagher completed the 5-yard TD pass to Sinicki to make it 21-20 with :04 showing, and after a timeout opted to play for the win. Gallagher took the snap and found Woolfork open in the end zone.

   Maine-Endwell entered the game having outscored its opponents 559-135 this season, while Schalmont had outscored its opponents by 555-37. But the M-E attack sputtered throughout the first half, during which the Spartans fumbled the ball away three times. They turned the ball over once more in the second half but also outgained Schalmont 271-81 over the final 24 minutes.

   Aquinas wins decisively: Monroe-Woodbury's title hopes in Class AA had a promising start courtesy of junior Brandon Lewis' 80-yard punt return for a TD following the game's opening possession, but little else went right and Aquinas cruised to a 48-13 victory for its sixth NYSPHSAA championship and first in the largest class.

   Sophomore Jake Zembiec threw three first-half touchdown passes to senior Alonzo Turney to pave the way.

   "We were sitting in the locker room and Dan (Pincelli, the offensive coordinator) asks me, 'Well, what do you think?'" Little Irish coach Chris Battaglia told the Democrat and Chronicle. "I said, 'Let the dude sling it.' He's the man, a difference-maker."

   Zembiec was selected the game MVP after he finished 13 of 20 passing for 211 yards. The Zembiec/Turney scoring plays were a 53-yard catch-and-run, a 7-yarder that Turney caught before he fell out of the end zone, and a 47-yarder dropped softly into the receiver's hands behind the secondary.

   The Little Irish took a 14-7 lead late in the first quarter as sophomore Earnest Edwards jumped the route on a Kevin Carr pass and returned the interception 60 yards for a touchdown. With M-W already under siege, Carr left with an football site

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ankle injury early in the second quarter and played sparingly afterward. Sophomore Ryan O'Malley threw for 109 yards and rushed for 70 with Carr on the bench.

   "I think it's a different game if Carr doesn't get hurt," Battaglia said. "He's a difference maker.

   Luch Pietropaolo ran 19 times for 86 yards, including a 1-yard run with 6:35 remaining in the third quarter to make it 33-7 and put the game out of reach.

   "They are the fastest, most well-coached, athletic team,'' Carr said. "I don't know how else to say it."

   Forks triumphs: Game MVP Isaiah Zimmer carried 39 times for 175 yards and three touchdowns to lead Chenango Forks to a 28-27 win vs. Rye Neck for the NYSPHSAA Class C crown.

   Chenango Forks previously won championships in 2003 and 2004.

   Zimmer's final score was a 7-yard run with 8:24 remaining. Rye Neck scored on Thomas Pipolo's 9-yard throw to Jake Sevean with 4:02 to go, but Mike Zurenda tackled the Pedro M. Cueto on a 2-point conversion attempt that would have given the lead to Rye Neck.

   The game was tied at 21 at halftime. Forks took a 14-7 lead on a 30-yard touchdown pass from J.C. Sweeney to Andrew Ziegenfus midway through the

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second quarter, but Rye Neck's Ryan Morningstar returned the ensuing kickoff 88 yards to tie the game. L.J. Watson returned the next kickoff into Rye Neck territory, then Zimmer scored on a 7-yard run for a 21-14 lead.

   Rye Neck tied the game with :43 to go in the half on a 10-yard touchdown pass from Pipolo to Jakob Calvini.

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