By PAUL CIFONELLI
BROCKPORT, N.Y. – Looking to continue its undefeated season, there were points on Saturday, when a trip to the state semifinals seemed unlikely for McQuaid. However, just as they have done all season, the Knights managed to pull out a win to keep the train moving.
After falling behind 7-0, senior Casey Howlett ran the ensuing kickoff 82 yards to the house. Junior Nick Wood kicked an extra point to knot the game at seven.
Lancaster answered with another touchdown at the end of the first quarter and another in the second to take a commanding 20-7 lead. McQuaid’s offense was not clicking in the half and provided little pressure on Lancaster’s defense. Near the end of the half, junior Joe Cairns found senior Andrew Passero for a 19-yard touchdown to cut into the deficit.
One of the main problems in the first half for McQuaid was dropped passes. Despite multiple drives being halted because of drops, Cairns did not let it get to his head and he continued to believe in his teammates.
“I just trust these guys so much,” Cairns said. “They’re my teammates. I practice with them every day and I know that no matter the mistakes they make, they’re going to keep grinding out there. Trusting my team helped me keep my head up.”
Once the second half rolled around, McQuaid head coach Bobby Bates knew his team needed a spark. He called for an onside kick to open the half, which was recovered by the Knights.
“We needed to find a way to get the ball and get another possession,” Bates said. “We had to try to steal a possession away and we were successful and able to do it.”
McQuaid converted that extra possession into a field goal to make it 20-17, Lancaster. Senior Shawn Davis responded for the Legends with a 56-yard punt return for a score. Davis ran in a two-point conversion to give Lancaster a 28-17 lead.
Cairns closed out the third quarter with a QB sneak for a score for McQuaid. He capped off a nine-play, 51-yard drive to bring the Knights within three.
After forcing a fumble early in the fourth quarter on its own 15, McQuaid made a drive to win the game. Cairns connected with Passero for a 50-yard gain to switch around field position. Passero finished off the drive with a nine-yard touchdown run.
The Knights’ defense locked down Lancaster for three plays to get the offense back. McQuaid then ran out the clock to secure the 32-28, come-from-behind victory.
For Passero, moving on to the state final four in his last season is special because every game has felt the same.
“It’s great. This year is kind of different because it’s win-or-go-home every single game,” Passero said. “If we don’t win today, it’s my last game in high school football.”
With the win, McQuaid moves on to face Cicero-North Syracuse in the state semifinals. The game will played t Cicero-North Syracuse High School on Saturday, Nov. 23 at 6 p.m.