Orchard Park and Bennett engaged in a battle of wills in the trenches Friday night at All High Stadium.
After the Tigers gashed OP for big gains early on, the Quakers returned the favor with interest during the second half as they spoiled Bennett’s homecoming night with a 14-8 triumph before an estimated 1,500.
After Isaiah McDuffie ran wild during a first quarter in which the Tigers asserted themselves well (except on the scoreboard), OP broke their spirit with a steady diet of senior running back Josh Dahl, who rushed for 109 of his 170 yards during the final 24 minutes as the Quakers bounced back from last week’s shocking loss in the final seconds to Lancaster to foil a Bennett crew that played well in defeat.
Pat Sullivan and a host of Quakers stopped McDuffie for no gain on fourth-and-1 from the OP 20 with 5 minutes, 29 seconds on what wound up as Bennett’s last possession of the game.
“We came back and played a very explosive team, you saw that early,” Quakers coach Gene Tundo said. “Our defensive line and offensive line played awesome. Our running back Josh had a great game. He ran hard, made people miss. It was just a great team victory.”
Player of game: Dahl. With Bennett playing tight coverage on OP receivers, the Quakers countered with the run – specifically Dahl who ran what is believed to be a career-high 30 times. His 1-yard touchdown run with 8:10 left in the third quarter broke an 8-8 tie after the Quakers took over at Bennett’s 31 following a punt. Dahl also caught a two-point conversion pass early in the second quarter as OP finished with 191 yards rushing and just 44 passing.
Play of game: Facing third-and-three at its own 38 on the game’s last possession, OP did what it did often Friday – hand the ball to No. 28. Dahl gained 11 yards for the first down. He followed that with a 13-yard pick up on the next play, enabling the Quakers to run out the clock as Bennett had no timeouts left.
What could have been: McDuffie took it to the house early in the third quarter on an 80-yard run. It got called back due to a hold. If the play had stood, things could have played out differently as Bennett would have had the lead.
Play of the first half: McDuffie’s 61-yard touchdown run on a third-and-3 play on the Tigers’ first possession of the game with 5:03 left in the first half. On his first four carries, McDuffie rushed for gains of 12, 13, 10 and 61 yards.
The retort: Orchard Park tied things at 8-8 with 11:09 left in the second quarter and Dillon Janca connected with Nic Bruce on the 6-yard touchdown along the left sideline. Janca completed the conversion pass to Dahl.
Janca watch: Janca came in needing to pass for 207 yards to pass former Maple Grove star quarterback Randall Secky's total of 5,915 for third all-time in Western New York history. OP opted to run more than it passed by a 2-to-1 margin with Janca completing six passes for 44 yards.
Halftime stats: Bennett outgained the Quakers 179-107, gaining all of its yardage via the rush.
Records: Orchard Park is 4-2, Bennett 4-2.
Next: Orchard Park visits Niagara Falls at 2 p.m. Saturday in a rematch of last year’s Section VI semifinal, won by the Quakers. Bennett returns to Class A South play with a 6:30 p.m. Friday clash at Lake Shore.