The premier running back in Western New York might play for Lockport, but North Tonawanda has the better running game.
The Lumberjacks used their ground game to run over the Lions, 28-0, Friday night to win a battle of top 10 large schools and take firm control of the Class AA North race. North Tonawanda (4-0, 3-0 AA North) is ranked fourth in The News large school poll while Lockport (2-2, 1-1), which took Orchard Park to double-overtime before losing on the season's opening night, is ranked ninth.
Lockport fans hoped the Lions, behind standout senior running back David Fluellen, would be able to score the school's first victory over NT in a decade. But NT sent waves of tacklers after the 6-foot, 200-pound back while it executed excellently on offense.
"On defense we stepped up today -- on offense we started a little slow, but then we got some momentum and we kept pushing and pushing," said North Tonawanda senior quarterback Mike Tuzzo. "It's our Lumberjack tradition: We work all offseason so we can get ready for these type of games. We play all four quarters because you never know what's going to happen."
Aaron Davis scored one touchdown and kicked four extra points to become NT's all-time leading scorer with 208 points.
After a hard-hitting, back-and-forth but scoreless first quarter, NT took a 7-0 lead to halftime and opened things up by dominating play in a 14-0 third.
Senior running back Tom Sell opened the scoring for NT with a 4-yard touchdown run by with 4:56 left in the second quarter. Sell bulled up the middle on first-and-goal on a possession set up by a very nice up-the-middle, 30-yard run by senior quarterback Mike Tuzzo (10 rushes, 107 yards). The Lion defense had trouble locating the ball carrier out of NT's vaunted option attack and Tuzzo made some nifty moves.
Tuzzo also connected in the passing game (3 for 7, 72 yards), notably on the first series of the third quarter. NT established the tone of the second half by scoring on its opening drive. On a well-designed, well-timed play, Tuzzo went play-action and was back to pass with a Lockport defender freed to blitz him, but he had enough time to loft a pretty pass to junior Travis Charsley, who was without a defender near him on the right sideline. It became a 45-yard score.
Senior Steve Kijowski had a monster game, including an 18-yard touchdown run with 6:31 left in the third quarter to give NT a 21-0 lead. Kijowski ran for 109 yards on 16 carries of seriously strong-legged running while he had 14 tackles on defense as NT limited Fluellen to 74 yards on 30 carries.
Davis added a 2-yard touchdown run with 5:26 left in the game.
Lockport's Luke Rankie had 14 tackles.
For more on North Tonawanda's victory, including video highlights and interviews, go to buffalonews.com/highschool and the Prep Talk blog at buffalonews.com/blogs.