By PAUL GOTHAM
WILLIAMSVILLE, N.Y. — Maddox Isaac found Payton Bradley in the end zone with less than 10 seconds remaining in the game as Section VI champion Salamanca defeated Le Roy, 21-13 in the New York State Class C Far West Regional, Saturday at Williamsville South High School.
With the win, Salamanca advances to the state semifinals next Saturday.
The loss ends the season for Le Roy (11-1).
“Obviously, you want to keep going,” said first-year Le Roy head coach Mike Humphrey. “There’s only one team in the entire state that’s going to end its season with a win. Unfortunately, that’s not us. That’s a helluva team, obviously very well-coached.”
The final margin represented Salamanca’s only lead in the game.
Le Roy used a 13-play, 62-yard drive to open the scoring late in the first quarter. Andrew Strollo ran it in from two yards out, and the Oatkan Knights led 7-0.
Strollo scored from four yards out to cap a seven-play, 39-yard drive and give Le Roy a 13-7 lead with 7:07 to go in the third quarter.
“They stopped what we did best which was run off-tackle,” Humphrey said. “We played them pretty tough. A couple big plays here and there.”
Le Roy’s defense held Salamanca three-and-out on the ensuing drive, but the Oatkan Knights could not add to their lead.
Isaac rushed for a 33-yard touchdown late in the third quarter to tie the score at 33.
The winning drive started at the Le Roy 47-yard line.
“They’re a very-balanced team,” Humphrey said. “I couldn’t be any more proud of my guys. I feel bad for the seniors, a very senior-led team. For a lot of them, it’s the last football game they’re ever going to play. There are a lot of positives to take from this season.”
Strollo and Tony Piazza, both seniors, combined for 145 yards on the ground. Piazza rushed for 77 yards on 19 carries while Strollo was 19 for 68 yards.
The regional appearance was the first for Le Roy since 2007.
“Obviously you want to get to the next game and the state championship,” Humphrey said. “A sectional championship is something to be proud of. The fact that we made it to this regional game and had a chance to win means a whole lot to these guys, the community and myself.”
The state quarterfinal trip was the 13th in program history for Le Roy and the fifth time the Oatkan Knights have faced Salamanca in the regional. The Warriors are 3-2 all-time in those head-to-head matchups.
Isaac connected with Arlen Newark on fourth down for the first Salamanca touchdown.
Salamanca will face either Adirondack (III) or Waverly (IV) in next Saturday. A noon kickoff is scheduled at Cicero-North Syracuse.