The Section VI Class B football championship came down to one play. And Depew stopped it.
Depew stuffed a goal-line run by East Aurora quarterback Scott Drosendahl to win its first sectional football championship, 21-14, Friday before an estimated 1,500 at Ralph Wilson Stadium.
"It feels amazing -- we're now going to be known as 'that team,' " said 6-foot-5 Depew senior lineman Kevin Dudkowski. "For future teams, all the coaches are going to refer to us as the hardest-working team. It just feels great."
Depew had a 21-7 lead after the first quarter, but EA had some major momentum late in the game. After scoring a touchdown with 5:30 left, the Blue Devils put together a potentially game-tying or game-winning drive in the final minutes.
The strong-armed Drosendahl was outstanding in the late stages, firing passes to move East Aurora downfield, ultimately advancing 2 yards from the end zone with the clock stopped with six seconds left. The junior kept the ball on a run up the middle. Depew stacked him up as if it knew what was coming, and later it sounded like they did.
"Everybody in the huddle said, 'Watch the QB's feet,' " said senior Greg Osika, who ran for two touchdowns on offense and was part of the final goal-line stand. "He's a big kid, 6-3, and they've got a great line up there. We knew they had to pound it in."
Depew (9-1), ranked second among small schools in The News' poll, will play the Section V champion in the Far West Regionals at 3 p.m. next Saturday at downtown Rochester's Paetec Park.
No. 3 small school EA (7-3) spent much of the game in a 21-7 hole but Drosendahl hit an open Karl Stern with a nice soft pass to the right side for a 9-yard touchdown. Ryan Sweet's extra-point kick brought EA to within one score. EA forced a three-and-out and took over at its own 28 with 3:40 to go.
Drosendahl (13 for 26, 195 yards) was 6 for 11 on the final drive, which ended on its 16th play.
"We were just looking for a little push up the middle," said Drosendahl. "They just pushed us back. They have a little more power than us. . . . We played them like no other B team played them."
Depew duped EA often in the first half with its running game, in which quarterback Joe Christiano would masterfully pull handoffs away from the first back and then tuck it into the hands of the second man through. Depew ran 38 times for 340 yards behind a huge line with Matt Strychalski running for 153 yards and a touchdown on 14 carries, Osika running eight times for 84 yards and Dan Gorski running seven times for 58 yards.
The game had the looks of a shootout early on as the teams exchanged scores on three straight possessions.
A 17-yard scoring run by Strychalski was answered by a 5-yard run by Dan Dechert (10 carries, 65 yards) after a four-play EA drive. Four plays later, Osika ran for a 40-yard TD.
Depew took a 21-7 lead after a Brad Barth interception set Depew up with a short field at the EA 14. Osika ran it in on the next play.