Leading off today:
For the first time in five seasons, Maine-Endwell's football season did not end well.
The four-time defending NYSPHSAA football champions committed seven turnovers and could not hold back a resilient Buffalo South Park, which rallied to a 43-26 victory in the Class A semifinals at Cicero-North Syracuse on Friday.
The Sparks snapped the Spartans' state-record 62-game winning streak. The Spartans had last lost in 2010 to Whitesboro in the state quarterfinals.
Two South Park takeaways resulted in touchdowns. Tyree Brown rushed for 103 yards and two touchdowns, threw for 203 yards and a TD and also pulled down two interceptions to break Maine-Endwell's unprecedented run of success.
Maine-Endwell lost four fumbles and Balmer was intercepted three times.
"It's a little overwhelming at the moment but exciting just the same," Sparks coach Tim Delaney told The Buffalo News. "I'm so excited for our kids and everyone involved in the program and everyone that supports us."
Maine-Endwell roared to a 14-0 lead in the first 6:26 before Fred Foster strip-sacked Kyle Balmer on his first pass attempt. David Thomas scooped up the ball for a 68-yard touchdown return. Brown then hit Daryl Moore for the 2-point conversion to make it 14-8 and tied the game with :05 left in the half on a 4-yard run.
Brown scored on a 9-yard run midway through the third quarter, Balmer countered with a 65-yard scoring carry and Brown struck again in the form of a 70-yard pass play to Thomas came with 1:43 left in the third quarter. Thomas split two defenders to make the catch at the 35 and continued in virtually unchallenged.
Then, 44 seconds into the fourth quarter, Moore stripped the ball loose during a sack and scooped up the fumble for a 47-yard TD to make it a two-touchdown game.
No school from the Buffalo district had ever so much as won a Section 6 championship before this year. Now, South Park goes to the Carrier Dome to play Our Lady of Lourdes for a championship.
"We're just all excited," Delaney said. "It's just a great feeling knowing everyone's hard work has gotten us to this point. We get to play one more game, for the state championship."
Our Lady of Lourdes is another first-time finalist after defeating Amsterdam 47-27 at Dietz Stadium. Dean Rotger threw three touchdown passes and ran for another score, and Joe Scaglione rushed for three touchdowns to lead the Warriors.
Rotger's 15-yard throw to Billy Wagner put Lourdes up 35-21 with 1:02 left in the third quarter.
"My whole life I've wanted to do this," Rotger told The Poughkeepsie Journal. "And to be able to say I'm going to the Carrier Dome for the state championship is a tremendous feeling."
Class D semifinals: Jesse Manuel rushed for 302 yards and five touchdowns, and Tioga qualified for the Class D state football title game for the first time by beating Bishop Kearney 38-36.
The Tigers had bowed out in the semifinals the previous four years.
Senior Adam Zwierlein rushed for 141 yards and made a crucial tackle for the winners.
"We've been working at this for four years for our seniors," Zwierlein told the Press & Sun-Bulletin. "To have all that work pay off is amazing."
Manuel's fifth TD of the night gave Tioga a 38-20 lead in the opening moments of the fourth quarter, but Kearney rallied behind QB Todd LaRocca, who finished with 276 yards and two TDs through the air.
Two Kings TDs and a recovered onside kick left Kearney inside the Tioga 35 and poised to win. On fourth-and-7 with under 3:00 left, though, Zwierlein tripped up a scrambling LaRocca for a 5-yard loss and a turnover on downs.
"I reacted," Zwierlein said. "I knew if I missed it -- game over."
Said Tioga coach Nick Aiello: "We got the one tackle we needed on him and that's all the matters."