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T-NT BATTLE IS ALL LUMBERJACKS

Take a dynamite large school football team and a dynamite small school, and you're not necessarily going to get a big explosion.

Despite both North Tonawanda and Tonawanda having exceptional seasons, the highly anticipated 95th T-NT game had more fizzle than sizzle as NT dominated in a 28-14 victory Friday evening. A standing-room-only Clint Small Stadium crowd estimated at more than 5,000 watched Western New York's No. 2 large school, Class AA North champion North Tonawanda (7-1), hand No. 1 small school and Class B North champion Tonawanda (7-1) its first loss.

Senior Bill Cheehan ran for 157 yards and a touchdown on 10 carries and sophomore quarterback Scott Gregson ran for two touchdowns for North Tonawanda, which built a 21-0 lead in third quarter.

"This feels awesome, coming here and beating them," said Cheehan. "Everyone was doing their job. I love my blockers. We knew they were 7-0 and it would be tough, but we came through."

It was the fourth straight win for NT in the T-NT game, making Jacks senior lineman Alex Port the first NT player to beat Tonawanda four years in a row.

Cheehan got the Jacks started with a 62-yard punt return that set up a 1-yard TD run by Steve Julian. Tonawanda has succeeded this season on the ground behind a host of ball carriers, but the Lumberjacks showed they would be tough on whoever was running: Mark Francis, Rob Nyitrai and Garrett Shugg (who average 5-foot-6, 150 pounds) were stuffed on successive runs for a quick end to Tonawanda's second drive.

A lengthy NT possession, which included two 15-yard runs by Cheehan, ended with Gregson running the ball left and reaching across the goal line for a 14-0 lead. Tonawanda never got out of its own half of the field before halftime, and NT made it a 21-0 game early in the third quarter.

Another first-down drive by Cheehan (28 yards) helped NT march to the Tonawanda 5, where Gregson faked a handoff and ran to the right side of the end zone for the touchdown.

Tonawanda got a 6-yard TD run by Nyitrai to cut the lead to 21-6, then got the ball back on an interception by Andy Welkley. But any comeback hopes faded when a halfback option pass from Garrett Shugg to older brother Brad Shugg on fourth-and-5 at the NT 33 just missed connecting.

Cheehan added a 1-yard TD run for a 28-6 lead with 8:18 to play while Nyitrai scored on a 61-yard run with 2:43 left.

Both teams will host Section VI playoff games next weekend, with the opponents still unknown.

e-mail: kmcshea@buffnews.com

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