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McKinley wins in OT Down but never out, Macks complete a three-peat

McKinley hasn't had to come from behind to win a lot of games this season, but in Thursday's Harvard Cup Championship, Riverside left it with no choice.

The Macks (11-0) ran their winning streak to 21 games after they rallied to beat the Frontiers, 22-14, in overtime at All High Stadium. The title was McKinley's third straight and retired the Harvard Cup.

Junior running back Troy Williams, filling in for the injured Arvin Bell, scored for McKinley in overtime on a 10-yard inside trap play. The game came to a dramatic end when McKinley linebacker A.J. Harmon intercepted a pass to end Riverside's overtime possession.

Bell was relegated to defense after trying to run the ball in the first half on a sore ankle. Williams made the most of his opportunity, finishing with 66 yards and a two-point conversion.

"Everybody told me, 'Troy, you're going in, you're the second-string starter and if Arvin gets hurt it's your time to step up.' I stepped it up," said Williams, who began the school year at St. Joe's before transferring. "I think I'm going to have a home with these boys. I came in and they accepted me. I found a new home. We put in a lot of work this season and we came too far to lose."

The Macks fell behind 14-0 before storming back. Quarterback Tamere Shannon threw touchdown passes to Willie Burnett and Kevin Chillies to tie the game at 14-all and force OT. Shannon threw for 83 yards to finish the season with 995.

"We knew Riverside studied us very good and they were going to come out real hard," said Shannon, named the game's MVP. "We knew we were going to be up for a big challenge. When they first came out and scored I wasn't really concerned. I just knew we were going to make the adjustments we needed to get back in the game."

McKinley's defense, led by Harmon's 13 tackles, held Riverside scoreless in the second half after making adjustments to stop Riverside's double-wing counter attack, which chewed up the Macks in the first quarter.

Riverside took the opening kickoff and drove 79 yards on 10 plays, scoring on Davon's Rollins' 16-yard run. After a McKinley three-and-out, Riverside drove 54 yards in six plays, taking a 12-0 lead on a 1-yard sneak by Ajay Hopson.

Justin Stokes blocked a McKinley punt that resulted in a safety and the Frontiers were up, 14-0. But McKinley showed why it's the class of the league by scoring 22 unanswered points.

Shannon found Chillies for a 10-yard touchdown pass in the second quarter to bring the Macks within 14-8. In the third quarter, Shannon connected with Burnett, who was able to bring in a tipped pass from 29 yards out to tie it at 14.

McKinley's defense, which looked confused in the early going, allowed Riverside to get no deeper than its 32-yard line in the second half.

"We knew they had success against Grover [Cleveland] running the counter so we had to try and mix up the defense and go from a five-man front to a four-man front," McKinley assistant coach James Daye said. "I really didn't want to blitz a lot in the first half. One thing I got tipped off on that we changed is when they send their man in motion, they started running back to the side where he came from, and we started closing down those gaps."

Riverside's Rollins led all rushers with 110 yards on 11 carries. Trent Alls had 11 tackles and Jordan Smith added nine for the Frontiers (7-4).

"McKinley made some nice adjustments, we made some nice adjustments. It was a good chess match," Riverside coach Tony Truilizio said. "I think the wind and field position played a major part. We anticipated overtime. Someone has to lose. Today it was us."

e-mail: mmonnin@buffnews.com

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