It’s no secret Cleveland Hill loves to run. So too does Gowanda/Pine Valley.
Something had to give? Matt Eldridge and Tyler Phillips made sure it was the Panthers.
The seniors scored two long touchdowns, with quarterback Phillips’s 62-yard fourth-quarter TD proving to be the back breaker as Cleve Hill defeated Gowanda/PV, 26-6, in a Section VI Class C semifinal Saturday afternoon.
A crowd of an estimated 1,000 at Carl J. Kuras Field watched a Golden Eagles crew that was missing two starters advance to their 11th final by slowing down Section VI rushing leader Kameron Alexander and a Gowanda offense that came in averaging 30.6 points per game.
Player of the game: Eldridge, the 5-foot-9, 230-pound running back, isn’t just a bruiser. He has speed, and he flaunted it on his 74-yard touchdown run that broke a scoreless tie in the second quarter.
Just in case anyone forgot, he turned on the jets again on a 29-yard scoring run around right end during the third quarter. Eldridge, whose older sister is nine-time Section VI track and field champion and Cleve Hill Hall of Famer Taylor, rushed 12 times for a game-high 148 yards. He also made 10 tackles to lead a defense that has yielded only 54 points all season – including 40 during the team’s current eight-game winning streak.
Play of the game: Phillips long TD run up the gut proved to be the punch that deflated a Panthers crew that seconds earlier had just pulled within 12-6 on Alexander’s 18-yard scoring run.
Running man: Alexander came into Saturday’s contest as the area’s leading rusher with 1,450 yards. He added 133 to that total on 31 carries.
More stats: Phillips finished with 66 yards on three rushes for the Golden Eagles, while Ammari Wooten made 10 tackles. Cleve Hill rushed for all of its 261 yards in offense.
Records: Cleveland Hill is 8-1, while the Panthers fall to 6-3.
Next: Cleveland Hill takes on Southwestern for the Section VI Class C championship at noon next Saturday at New Era Field.