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Saturday, Nov. 8, 2014: Cheektowaga pulls off wild comeback for championship

   Leading off today: Stephan Parker's 40-yard scoring catch with five seconds to play capped a 33-point fourth quarter and completed Cheektowaga's 40-34 win Friday over Buffalo Bennett for the Section 6 Class B football championship at Ralph Wilson Stadium.

   Parker made a twisting catch of Zak Ciezki's throw and extended his arms inside the pylon before being driven out of bounds by a pair of defenders. It was his only catch of the game.

   "I just knew my team needed me," Parker told The Buffalo News. "Zak threw a great ball. I just had to go up there and get it. ... The team put the game in our hands, I had to come through with the win. This is a game I'll never forget."

   Cheektowaga struck first on a Marshawn Gibson touchdown, but Bennett's Alex Dildy took back the ensuing kickoff 81 yards for a score and Isaiah McDuffie ran in the conversion. McDuffie's 1-yard TD in the second quarter gave Bennett a 14-7 lead, and the Tigers tacked on 14 more points in the third quarter on two Andrew White runs.

   Ciezki (9-for-23, 224 yards) sparked the wild fourth-quarter rally, beginning with a 9-yard run :09 into the period. He then connected with Tyron Lawson on a 66-yard touchdown pass with 8:12 left and -- two plays after a Justin Williams fumble recovery deep inside Bennett territory -- scored on a 5-yard keeper with 5:15 to go.

   Cheektowaga went ahead on Ciezki's 1-yard run with 1:16 left, but the Tigers' Anthony Mendrysa hit Brandon Brown in stride for 90 yards, a TD and a 34-34 tie.

   Aloi sets Section 9 mark: Chester quarterback Vinny Aloi set the Section 9 record for TD passes in a season with three during a 55-0 win over Livingston Manor in the Class D final.

   Aloi has thrown for 32 TDs, one more than Warwick's Rian White (2009). Aloi has thrown just two interceptions this season.

   Aloi's record-setter was a 3-yarder to Brandon Sadlier, who has 15 touchdown receptions this fall.

   Nice recovery: Hoosick Falls claimed its record sixth consecutive Section 2 championship by scoring the only 24 points of the second half to beat Fonda-Fultonville 31-14 in the Class C championship.

   The Panthers went to an up-tempo style to open the second half, rattling off plays as quickly as possible. Hoosick Falls took the kickoff and marched 80 yards on 10 plays and Colby Davendonis carried the ball on seven of those plays en route to tying the game on a 2-yard run.

   "We knew that they were tired, and we just wanted to tire them out some more and just took over the game," Davendonis told The Times Union.

   Hoosick Falls took the lead when Damon Dubois kicked a 25-yard field goal with :34 remaining in the third quarter. Jacob Bakaitis blocked a punt to start the possession.

   Just 3-6 but still alive: Tahjae Napoleon returned the opening kickoff for a touchdown and also blocked a punt to set up a score as Union-Endicott beat Vestal 28-7 in the Section 4 Class A final.

   U-E (3-6), which had only 107 yards of offense, will meet unbeaten Indian River in the NYSPHSAA quarterfinals.

   "This team showed a lot of character," U-E coach Tom Baleno told the Press & Sun-Bulletin. "They always worked hard throughout the season, and they always stayed positive, which I couldn't believe sometimes. Hats off to them."

   Long Island openers: Only 13 of the 20 higher seeds won their quarterfinals as Sections 8 and 11 began their

  

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  • quarterfinals. Two No. 7 seeds were among the winners as Massapequa upset Farmingdale 20-14 in Nassau Conference I and Patchogue-Medford downed Connetquot 29-28 in Suffolk Division I.

       Massapequa prevailed when middle linebacker Paul Dilena ripped the ball loose from a Farmingdale player and Chris Bacotti recovered in the end zone with :49 left.

       In other Nassau Conference I action, William Hogan hit Michael Elardo for a 20-yard touchdown pass in overtime to give No. 6 seed Syosset a 27-21 win vs. MacArthur. It was Hogan's fourth TD pass of the game.

       Farewell tour: Most if not all sports seasons have at least one good ongoing story in the form of a veteran coach's swan song. In one such case this fall, Brian Moran announced his pending retirement from LeRoy football early in the year, notched win No. 200 during the season and has the Oatkan Knights heading back to the state quarterfinals next weekend.

       Howard Owens of TheBatavian.com did the definitive Moran profile this week, recalling how Moran inherited a strong team for his debut as coach in 1989 -- winning the first of his 14 Section 5 titles -- and then weathered back-to-mark marks of 1-7 and 4-4.

       "That third year (1991), I thought we had a great football team," Moran recalled. "If they had let eight teams in (to the playoffs), that team would have won it all. That's how good we got by the end of the season."

       As if to prove it, the Knights went 7-1-2 the following fall for Moran's second sectional title. From 1995 through 2008, LeRoy went 136-20 with no losing seasons.

       How much of Moran's life is consumed by football during the season?

       "All day, every day," Moran said, "just ask my wife. I'm constantly watching film early in the week, trying to watch teams a week ahead. Then I start thinking about what we're going to do offensively and defensively. Constantly. It's not like I'm sitting down constantly and writing things down, and I'm not watching film constantly, but it's a thorough process that really takes up your time. You really have to think to be successful."

       Scoreboard: The Week 10 list of scores from around the state has been posted.


      
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