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Randolph runs to Class D title

Two years ago, Blake Morrison was part of one of Section VI's best teams in recent years, the Randolph football team that went on to win a Class D state championship. Morrison and this year's Cardinals are again sectional champions, and who would have thought it after Randolph began the year 0-2?

"We were here my sophomore year, but this feels 10 times better," Morrison said after Randolph's 30-0 domination of Portville in Thursday evening's Section VI Class D championship game at Ralph Wilson Stadium. "Just being a senior and winning here, and going through the road we took. Everybody thought we were the underdogs here, and we came out here and proved them wrong. It's great."

A crowd of about 1,000 watched Morrison engineer an option running attack that racked up 331 yards on 45 attempts. Randolph never attempted a pass.

"I'll tell you, I was impressed watching it myself," said a smiling Pat Slater, Randolph's 28th-year coach. "I'm thinking, 'I need to throw it,' and then I go, 'No! I'm crazy!' We're running the ball good here."

With Randolph holding a 23-0 lead at halftime, Morrison (10 carries, 129 yards) sat out the second half due to a hamstring injury. He and Slater expected he would be back next week.

"He kind of tweaked a hamstring a little bit," Slater said, "hopefully we've got a week here that he can get that thing better."

Randolph (8-2) moves on to play the Section V champion in the Far West Regionals on Nov. 9 at Rochester's Paetec Park.

Randolph lost to Portville in its opener and fell to Maple Grove in Week Two. But the Cardinals knocked off highly regarded Maple Grove in last week's semifinals and dominated from the start Thursday.

Randolph repeatedly marched downfield on its way to the big halftime lead. The first drive included two Morrison first-down runs and was capped by a nifty option pitch from Morrison to Matt Hettenbaugh (17 carries, 51 yards) for a 13-yard TD.

The Cardinals' next score was a 1-yard run by Morrison that concluded an 11-play, 80-yard drive. A 43-yard run by Travis Terry (16 carries, 146 yards) set up a first-and-goal on Randolph's next drive, which ended with Hettenbaugh taking another nice option pitch for a 6-yard touchdown and a 20-0 lead with 3:41 left in the first half.

Randolph tacked on three points on David Pihlblad's 31-yard field goal one second before halftime.

e-mail: kmcshea@buffnews.com

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