It’s a little early to play that team of destiny card, but Kenmore West looked the part Saturday afternoon.
The Blue Devils recovered from a terrible start, made a defensive stand for the books and then watched as star player Terrell Ford ran for three fourth-quarter touchdowns as Ken West defeated Lancaster, 44-21, in a Section VI Class AA semifinal game.
With the win, the Blue Devils secured their first trip to Ralph Wilson Stadium since 1996. They will face Ralph regular Orchard Park for the championship Friday night at the home of the Buffalo Bills. OP advanced to its 20th final by beating Niagara Falls on Friday.
Play of the game: Ken West wasted little time going for the win after halftime. Nursing a 16-14 lead, the Blue Devils got the ball in the hands of Ford. On the third play of the quarter, quarterback DeAngelo Walker-Johnson threw about a 12-yard pass down the sideline on Ford’s inside shoulder. Ford made a nice adjustment and catch and once he beat his coverage man was off to the house on a 65-yard TD.
Player of the game: Ford, who went off during the second half. He scored four touchdowns total, adding rushing scores of 44, 1 and 72 yards as the Blue Devils won a semifinal game for the first time under longtime coach Rich Harris. Ford finished with 183 yards on 22 rushes and caught three passes for 98 yards.
Key moment: After Lancaster’s Alex Heist blocked a Ken West punt at the Blue Devils’ 1, it seemed as if the door creaked open for the Legends to pull within two with momentum on their side. However, a Ken West defensive unit that gave up a 57-yard touchdown run to Zach Samborski on the game’s opening offensive play slammed the door shut emphatically. The unit led by Charlie Milks stuffed three runs for minus-2 yards and then forced an incompletion on fourth down with more than 8 minutes left in the third quarter.
Running man: Zach Samborski needed 64 yards to set the single-season Lancaster rushing records and finished with 88 on 17 carries. He collected 57 yards on his first carry, a touchdown on the game’s first offensive play to give the Legends a 6-0 lead.
Final stats: Ken West finished with 420 yards, while Lancaster had 301. Walker-Johnson completed 6-of-10 passes for 181 yards for the Blue Devils. Charlie Milks and Mark Taylor and Jayson Taylor led a defense that at one point in the game stuffed five straight run plays from its 1 before Dan Speyer broke through for a 1-yard TD to trim Ken West’s lead to 23-21 with 11:29 left in the game.
Halftime stats: Lancaster 192 yards, Ken West 189.
Records: Kenmore West 8-1, Lancaster 6-3.
Next: Section VI Class AA final Friday At Ralph Wilson Stadium.