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Sunday, Nov. 22, 2015: Saratoga, Aquinas reach Class AA football final

   Leading off today: Both NYSPHSAA Class AA football semifinals came down to kicks Saturday, with Saratoga and Aquinas surviving to earn berths in next weekend's championship games at the Carrier Dome.

   New Rochelle senior Omar Pulido's 27-yarder to tie Saratoga appeared good, only to be waved off because the Streaks called a timeout barely ahead of the snap. On the do-over, the ball sailed just wide to the right to preserve Saratoga's 32-29 win.

   "If he had missed that first one after I called the timeout, I don't know what I would have done," Saratoga coach Terry Jones said. "I would have crawled underneath the turf, but we had to. The game was obviously going to end on that play. There was 30-something seconds left, so if he makes it we're going to overtime, if he misses it (we win)."

   New Rochelle sophomore Jared Baron scored from the 1 to give the Huguenots their first lead of the second half, 29-25. Saratoga responded by driving 55 yards to the game-winning score, a Brian Williams 6-yard throw to senior running back Robert Haughton.

   The big play of the drive was a 51-yard pass play from Williams to Ryan Manlapaz down the right sideline.

   In the other semi, Aquinas edged Liverpool 17-16 after Earnest Edwards blew up a Warriors extra-point kick with 3:53 to play. Edwards, a terror all season long coming off the edge on kick attempts, broke in so cleanly that he nearly ran past the hold and kick. The ball grazed his stomach and caused the kick to fall short of the uprights.

   Aquinas QB Jake Zembiec was 19 of 28 for 266 yards with two touchdowns and an interception as the Little Irish pulled within one win of their seventh New York State Public High School Athletic Association championship.

   More semifinal highlights: Dylan Studer and L.J. Watson scored two TDs apiece, and Tony Silvanic threw a pair of TD passes in Chenango Forks' 44-22 Class C win over Bath.

   Studer's 14-yard scoring run up the middle gave Forks 1 16-0 lead with 9:59 left in the first half.

   "They were just really strong and then when their running backs got outside, we couldn't tackle them," Bath's Michael Rice said. "They just outplayed us at the point of attack, that's for sure."

   Forks' opponent on Friday in its bid for a threepeat will be Greenwich, a 47-13 winner over Liberty in the other semifinal.

   "We have something in the Dome that's ours and we don't like it when people try to take it away from us," Studer said after gaining 120 yards in 14 carries.

   Watson gained 99 rushing yards and 39 receiving.

   In Class B, Cazenovia dominated Cheektowaga 55-18 by rattling off 41 consecutive points.


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  •    Paul McLaughlin caught four first-half passes for 94 yards and a two TDs and intercepted another pass on defense to help the Lakers to a 28-12 lead at halftime. Jake Shaffner ran for three TDs and passed for three more, and Kevin Frega ran for 140 yards and two TDs.

       The Lakers will play Schuylerville for the title Sunday in a matchup of unbeatens.

       Stepinac to CHSAA final: Archbishop Stepinac defended its CHSFL Class AAA championship with a 20-12 win over Cardinal Hayes, though senior QB Tyquell Fields limped off the field at the end of the first quarter with a right ankle injury.

       Fields returned, but with limited mobility.

       "It really made the playbook smaller," coach Mike O'Donnell told The Journal News. "Tyquell did a great job of hanging in there. We had to coach on the go tonight because we had a number of kids get banged up."

       Stepinac heads to Grand Island next weekend to play St. Francis for the state CHSAA championship.

       Stepinac's T.J. Morrison made a pair of interceptions to set up two scores by returning the picks 46 and 68 yards.

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