It seemed like karma was on Jamestown’s side one more time.
When diminutive defensive back Zacc Kinsey met Niagara Falls running back Tyvhon Woods in the backfield for a stuffing tackle that resulted not just in lost yardage, but a strip and fumble recovery, one couldn’t help but believe the Red Raiders received the golden opportunity it needed to once again leave the Niagara Falls Athletic Complex with a comeback win.
Except, the football gods proved to be unkind to Jamestown one final time on a frustrating Saturday afternoon. While driving for the go-ahead score, a bad snap on third down from Falls’ 10 was recovered by blitzing Wolverines safety Michael Stachowski with two minutes left.
No comeback victory. No prolonged postseason march. No back-to-back championships season for Jamestown. The defending state Class AA champions’ reign came to an end on a rainy, windy day in the Cataract City as the Wolverines earned a 14-12 victory to advance to the Section VI semifinals next Friday at Orchard Park.
Even coach Tom Langworthy thought they were going to win when Kinsey (7 tackles), who helped the program win two Section VI titles during his three seasons on varsity, made one heck of a defensive play when he single-handedly forced the Wolverines’ fourth turnover of the game with 6:19 left af Falls’ 44.
The Red Raiders killed more than four minutes off the clock while running exclusively Wildcat formation plays with Devan Jackson toting the ball each time for decent gains. Facing third-and-10 from the Wolverines’ 11 it was no secret who was going to get to call again, except this time the snap was a little high, bouncing off Jackson hand and to the ground in the direction of the on-rushing Stachowski who simply fell on the ball to end the Raiders’ final threat. Jackson, a junior and returnee from last season, rushed for 22 times for 126 yards and two touchdowns.
“It hurts that they lost today,” said Langworthy, noting Jamestown will play a ninth game and have a chance to send off its 15 seniors, including Kinsey, on a winning note. “We got off to a slow start which hurt. Turned the ball over. Those things you can’t do in the playoffs.”
Jamestown got away with playing a sloppy game here in Week One when it rallied for a 34-33 win. It wasn’t so lucky Saturday as each time it forced a turnover, it gave it back. Nikk Holland was intercepted twice but even Jackson lost the ball during the first half, getting stripped after a 56-yard reception to end another empty possession.
Defensively, the Red Raiders played well enough to win, holding Falls to just 254 yards. But the turnovers, coupled with Jaquan Hudson’s 95-yard kick return for a score just proved to be too much to overcome.
The Red Raiders still gave it a shot, which one would expect from a Langworthy team.
A victory just wasn’t in the card, which means there will be a new state champion next month at the conclusion of the public schools’ postseason tournament.