It was going to take two great halves of football for Ellicottville to beat Oakfield-Alabama on Friday night. It came up one half short.
After dominating the first half statistically, the Eagles couldn't sustain the momentum and fell, 20-0, in the Class D Far West Regional played before a paid crowd of 1,506 in Ralph Wilson Stadium.
"They must have come out more fired (up) than we were," said running back Chris Moore, who led the Eagles with 79 yards. "They ran right up through us on defense, and I guess when they run past us, they score."
Ellicottville, making its fourth appearance in the regional round of the state playoffs, finished 9-2. It was the first time the Eagles had been shut out since the finale of the 2001 season, a span of 29 games.
In the first half, Ellicottville held the Hornets to one first down, 26 yards offense and owned the time of possession, 16:48 to 7:12. Meanwhile, the Eagles had 101 yards of offense and seven first downs. It didn't translate into any points.
"We needed to put some points on the board that first half," said Ellicottville coach Tim Bergan. "We controlled the tempo, we controlled the clock. When we didn't put any points on, that certainly gave them more life."
A pair of costly interceptions prevented the Eagles from scoring.
The first one ended an 11-play, game-opening drive that saw Ellicottville turn over the ball at the 5-yard line. The second came on fourth-and-goal from the 2-yard line when a quick pass over the middle was picked off.
Oakfield-Alabama woke from its first-half hibernation to score on its first three possessions of the second half. On its first drive, O-A marched 75 yards on 14 plays, capped by Matt Ware's 4-yard run up the middle.
After the Eagles went four-and-out, Oakfield-Alabama made it 14-0 on Ed Davis' 13-yard run. The Hornets tacked on their third score on the first play of the fourth quarter when Davis plunged in from 2 yards. Davis led all rushers with 92 yards on 21 carries. Ware, coming off games of 175 and 141 yards, had 37 yards on nine attempts.
The Hornets did their job on defense as well, holding the Eagles to just 43 yards offense in the second half.
"Their size finally wore us down. We gave up a whole lot of pounds out there," said Bergan. "They came out (in the second half) throwing the ball, and they got a couple first downs and just started moving it. But our kids kept their noses in there. They played until the last play."
Aaron Koller led Ellicottville with 11 tackles, while Jacob Clark added 10. Jamal Elom and Mandela Elom had seven each.
The Hornets (10-1) advance to the state semifinals against today's winner between Hancock of Section IV and Weedsport of Section III.
Oakfield-Alabama was ranked No. 2 in the New York State Sportswriter's poll while Ellicottville was No. 4.