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Cleve Hill runs away from Southwestern to repeat as Class C football champion

It's kind of fitting that Cleveland Hill came out to Ric Flair's theme music during its team introduction Saturday afternoon.

That's because in order to be the man you must beat the man, and the Golden Eagles showed they definitely still are the man in Class C among Section VI football teams.

Cleveland Hill rode the momentum of a huge goal-line stand and a record-setting 99-yard touchdown run by Ryan Majerowski to turn what had been a close game into a convincing 42-16 triumph over Southwestern at New Era Field.

An estimated 1,000 saw the defending champions win the rematch of last year's final in which Cleve Hill rushed for a section final record 478 yards.

The Golden Eagles didn't break that record – churning out 392 on the ground, but another rushing mark fell as their vaunted running game once again overwhelmed a Trojans crew that hoped this would be its year.

The record for longest touchdown run in a Section VI final now belongs to Majerowski, a fullback who may be more accustomed to opening holes than running through them but has shown the ability to burn teams when Eagles coaches have called his number.

Majerowski came in averaging 8.2 yards per carry but increased that number after having a day in which he rushed seven times for a game-high 207 yards and two touchdowns.

"So many people do focus on our tailbacks, Ryan as a fullback is a heck of a weapon," longtime Cleve Hill coach Glen Graham said. "He's had that capability the whole year. He's just been really unselfish. He's been blocking for the other guys behind him. It's great to see him have the kind of day he had today. It's fantastic."

Majerowski also scored on a 76-yard run and made six tackles, as Cleve Hill won its ninth straight game and secured a berth into next Saturday's Far West Regional at SUNY Brockport. The Golden Eagles face the Section V champion at noon for the right to advance to the New York State Public High School Athletic Association semifinals.

After Cleve Hill's James Purpura (seven tackles) and Aaron Wahler (seven tackles) combined to stuff a fourth-down run play at its 1, Majerowski took an inside handoff 99 yards and raced pretty much untouched to increase the Eagles' 8-7 lead early in the second quarter.

"It felt amazing," Majerowski said of the TD run. "Everyone did their job right. We had Jalyn Parker doing his (job as lead blocker). If he didn't do his job it would've been nothing. Everything was on him right there."

"Those were two big plays in a sequence of big plays," Graham said. "The guys just did a great job."

It took one more big play before halftime for the Golden Eagles to feel slightly comfortable. With Southwestern driving for a score, Chris Diem was in the right spot at the right time. He intercepted a tipped pass and returned it 63 yards with 1 minute, 14 seconds left to make it 20-10.

Wahler and Javon Thomas (eight carries, 98 yards) scored on runs of 1 and 53 yards, respectively, in the third quarter before Majerowski's second TD dash.

Alex Card, who booted a 26-yard field goal, scored on a 47-yard run on the last play of the game for Southwestern (7-3).

The Trojans, who dropped a regular-season meeting at Cleve Hill 12-0, scored first on their second drive. On a possession that began in Cleve Hill territory after a poor punt, the 40-yard march ended with Cole Snyder's first completion of the game being a 15-yard TD strike to Derek Miller.

The Golden Eagles wasted little time responding with a scoring drive of their own. After a nice kick return by Thomas to midfield, they ran six times with the final one reaching the end zone – a 22-yard run by Wahler. Brett Kochanski ran in the conversion to make it 8-7.

The Trojans came oh so close to responding with a TD of their own, but close doesn't count on the scoreboard. They got stopped at the 1.

Majerowski followed with a run for the books.

Cleve Hill ran away with its fourth championship in six years.

"It feels good," Thomas said.

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