St. Francis coach Jerry Smith thought Connor Miller’s dropped interception would come back to haunt the Red Raiders.
Down, 29-26, St. Joe’s was driving at the St. Francis 15-yard line for the go-ahead score or at the very least a tying field goal attempt.
Instead, it turned out to be just a warmup.
Two plays later, the senior safety stepped in front of a Maruaders receiver at the 1-yard line and picked off a pass to give the Red Raiders possession with 30 seconds left on the clock. St. Francis kneeled on the next play to seal the three-point win.
“Earlier in year he might not have made that play,” Smith said. “But he’s been playing with confidence and stepped right in front and picked it off.”
Miller (eight tackles), along with Jaron Alexander (eight tackles, sack, interception) and David Hayes (blocked punt, fumble recovery) were part of a defense that limited St. Joe’s high-scoring offense that burned the Red Raiders on outside runs in the first half to just six points after the break.
“We basically switched our personnel up, put guys in different positions,” Smith said. “We played one defense but kept subbing in to keep guys fresh. ... Our kids responded to doing things within their capabilities as an athlete but not what they were originally aligned to do.”
Offensively, QB Dawson Tyger ran for two 1-yard scores, and Cole O’Connor carried the ball 16 times for 60 yards and a TD.
Sophomore call-up Xavier Janczylik made an impact in his first varsity game, rushing eight times for 44 yards and a 9-yard touchdown and catching two passes for 27 yards.
“One was Odell Beckham-like, falling backwards and snagging it with his hand behind his head,” Smith said. “It was amazing.”
Retsen Daley had a 49-yard run where he reversed field a couple of times to set up O’Connor’s 1-yard TD run in the fourth quarter that gave St. Francis a 29-26 lead, its first of the afternoon.
It was the first league game for St. Francis (2-4, 1-0), which finishes up against Cardinal O’Hara, Canisius and Bishop Timon-St. Jude.
St. Joe’s QB Casey Kelly ran for 1- and 2-yard touchdowns and also threw for a 32-yard score. Ronald McCarly ran for a 54-yard touchdown. The Marauders (2-4, 1-2) look to snap a four-game losing streak at Rochester’s University Prep next Saturday.
Niagara Falls 43, Lockport 0: The Wolverines (2-4, 2-3) ran for all six of their touchdowns to pick up a win on Senior Day. Sophomore Willie McDougald scored three, Syveon Ralands had two, and Jermani Justus one.
Newfane 27, Roy-Hart/Barker 18: The Panthers are headed to sectionals for the first time since 1993, when head coach Chuck Nagel was a senior at Newfane (5-1, 4-1).
QB Brandon Gross ran the ball 12 times for 158 yards and two scores of 10 and 6 yards. He completed 6 of 15 passes for 105 yards, including a 27-yard toss to Shayne Harrington (67 yards rushing, 69 yards receiving, 15 tackles).
Julian Nixon had 81 yards on the ground, a 20-yard TD run and made 12 tackles on defense. Chad Dunbar added 11 tackles, while Ty Casinelli had a sack and a fumble recovery.
Class C South
Falconer/Cassadaga Valley 16, Allegany-Limestone 14: Junior QB Connor Crabtree ran for a 5-yard TD and threw an 8-yard pass to Nick Saeger for the go-ahead score. Robbie Penhollow also made a 23-yard field goal for the Golden Cougars (4-2, 2-1).
Bennett 6, Burgard 0: A 12-yard run by sophomore QB Aaron Smith was the lone touchdown in this defensive slugfest between old Harvard Cup rivals. Christopher Pettiway was the star on defense with 11 tackles, four sacks, a forced fumble and two pass deflections, as the Tigers (4-2) held the Bulldogs (2-4) to less than 150 yards on offense.
Burgard had the ball on Bennett’s 1-yard line with about 5 minutes left, but DT Anthony Tedesco burst through the line and tackled the QB for a 6-yard loss. On fourth down, the QB picked up a bobbled snap and was taken down for an 8-yard loss.