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Saturday, Nov. 2, 2019: Auburn stages wild comeback, wins in two overtimes

   Leading off today: The preposterous run to a 2006 NYSPHSAA championship now has a rival on the list of most memorable achievements in the history of 21st-century Auburn football.

   Down 32 points in the third quarter, the Maroons rallied to beat Indian River 61-59 in two overtimes Friday in the Section 3 Class A semifinals. The victory advanced the Maroons to next weekend's sectional final vs. Carthage and also assured them a place in the NYSPHSAA quarterfinals the following weekend.

   Quarterback Troy Churney was 20 of 35 attempts for 246 yards and seven touchdowns in the win, twice hitting paydirt with first-play throws in overtime. He also caught a scoring pass.

   Churney threw a 20-yard TD to Leon Atkins and the 2-point conversion to Dante Herndon (121 receiving yards, three TDs) to forge a 53-53 tie at the end of the first OT, then connected with Herndon for a 20-yard TD of first down and ran in the conversion for a 61-53 lead.

   Indian River, ranked 19th in the state this week by the NYSSWA, responded with a Robert Alexander 15-yard TD pass to Rowan Marsell. Auburn stopped Guillermo Rosario Acosta on the 2-point conversion only to have the play negated by a penalty, but Alexander's pass attempt on the do-over fell incomplete to end the game.

   Auburn's rally started late in the third quarter with the Indian River lead 45-13. Churney threw a 12-yard TD pass to Owen Spearing to begin a wild sequence that included the Maroons twice recovering onside kicks and driving to scores to cut the deficit to 45-37 with 5:54 to play in regulation.

   Auburn stopped Indian River on downs at the Warriors' 39 and Churney hit Herndon for a 27-yard touchdown, then connected with Shaheed Beal for the tying 2-point conversion with 3:30 to go.

   Yorktown advances: Though an upset on paper, almost nothing that happens within the top echelon of Section 1's hyper-competitive Class A division can be regarded as surprising. That includes 14th-ranked Yorktown's 20-7 victory over No. 5 John Jay Cross River in the semifinals.

   Senior Dylan Smith had 34 carries for 200 yards and a pair of touchdowns as Yorktown continued its return to the top on the heels of a 4-5 mark in 2018. Yorktown held JJCR to 136 yards of offense.

   "Everyone doubted us," senior Dean Patierno said. "We didn't get any publicity from anyone. No one thought we could do it, but we've proved everyone wrong."

   The Huskers' opponent in the sectional final will be No. 16 Rye, a 28-20 winner over 16th-ranked Somers.

   Somers built its lead to 20-7 with :35.6 left in the half, but Garnets quarterback Declan Lavelle drove the offense 70 yards in seven plays, hitting Matthew Tepedino with a 30-yard Hail Marry pass as time expired to commence the rally.

   The Garnets allowed just two first downs the rest of the way, and Lavelle (17 of 30, 242 yards) threw third-quarter TD passes to Mark Surhoff and Tepedino.


   More Class A: First-year player Patrick Mootry's 82-yard interception return late in the second quarter stood up as the only touchdown of the game as No. 10 Buffalo McKinley fought off No. 26 West Seneca West 7-0. The senior's key play helped advance the unbeaten Macks to their first Section 6 championship game.

   "It was just a sigh of relief to get some points on the board," first-year coach Brian Davis said. "First-year football player and he stepped up big time. ... He just showed up one day and said he wanted to play football and the rest is history."

   The Macks play unbeaten South Park on Saturday at New Era Field in the first matchup of two Buffalo Public Schools for a Section 6 crown.

   Late heroics for Tottenville: Tottenville resorted to trickery for a late TD as the No. 9 Pirated edged No. 12 Curtis 40-36 in Class AA action in the PSAL.

   Roland Dempster finished with 270 yards rushing on 22 carries and scored four of Tottenville's six touchdowns. His five carries for 24 yards on the game-winning drive helped set the stage for a 5-yard TD pass to left tackle Nick Baggs.


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  •    "We decided to go with a gadget play by using an eligible tackle ... something that Jimmy (Munson) used to use," said Brian Neville, a former assistant to the retired Pirates coach. "We dusted it off and started working on it Wednesday for exactly the situation we were in."

       With Receiver Eric O'Neil in motion to the right, quarterback Anthony Pucciarelli took the snap in shotgun formation and stepped to his right with Dempster leading the way. Baggs, meanwhile, drifted off the line of scrimmage into the middle of the end zone, where Pucciarelli found the 6-foot-5 target with :17 to play.

       The TD negated a big night for Curtis sophomore Sam Martin, who rushed for three scores and also posted TDs on a 73-yard punt return and a 74-yard pass reception. His 10-yard TD run had given the Warriors a 36-33 lead with 10:51 left.

       Shaker KO'd in Section 2: Guilderland running back Brad Igweike scored on a 25-yard carry early in the fourth quarter as Guilderland earned a 14-7 win over previously unbeaten Shaker, ranked sixth in the state in Class AA.

       Oneida stages rally: Down by 15 points in the third quarter, No. 10 Oneida stormed back to edge No. 13 Marcellus 41-34 in the Section 3 Class B semifinals.

       Quarterback Jordan Clark passed for two scores, rushed for another and capped a big day with a 75-yard kickoff return for the go-ahead touchdown with 2:11 to play.

       Down 28-27 to start the fourth quarter, Oneida forced a Mustangs punt after Marcellus had recovered an Oneida punt return fumble. Oneida then drove 75 yards in nine plays, capped by Clark's 1-yard sneak with 7:04 to go. Marcellus answered with an 11-play TD drive to retake the lead, only to have Clark bring the ensuing kickoff all the way to the end zone.

       "Coach moved me up there because he had a feeling they were going to kick there," Clark said. "I saw the outside, broke one tackle and came running down the sideline. Stephen Cafalone made a big block for me on that return. If it wasn't for him, I don't think I would have gotten in the end zone."

       Alexander wins squeaker: Senior QB Dylan Busch scored his first rushing touchdown of the season on a 1-yard sneak in the first quarter and sixth-ranked Alexander held on for an 8-0 win over No. 7 Red Jacket in the Section 5 Class D semifinals.

       Senior tailback Tyrone Woods rushed 22 times for 120 yards and intercepted a pass. Teammate Kameron Lyons' interception on a 3rd-and-goal play from the Alexander 2 ended Red Jacket's best opportunity.

       "Excellent effort tonight," Alexander coach Tim Sawyer said. "We did enough offensively to win the football game. I mean, we'd like it to be more efficient and smoother. We struggled through the offense, but our defense did their job and brought this victory to us."

       Scoreboard: You can check out all of the Week 9 scores here. We've also assembled the rundown of how ranked teams fared this weekend.

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