Indian River senior linebacker Devin Kincaid summed up what the Warriors defensive unit faced on the ultra-fast turf at Watertown High School on Friday night.
That team had some awesome athletes, Kincaid said of the Nottingham Bulldogs. I had a lot of dreams this week of trying to catch them. Unfortunately, not many of them came true.
Third-seeded Nottingham used its quick-strike ability to score seven touchdowns on just 28 plays from scrimmage, and that was more than enough to post a 48-26 Section 3 Class A semifinal win over No. 2 Indian River.
Sensational senior quarterback Marty Clanton threw for three touchdowns, scored another on a 55-yard run and accumulated 222 total yards as Nottingham (7-2) advanced to play top-seeded Jamesville-DeWitt, 7-6 winner over Whitesboro, in the Class A final Friday night in the Carrier Dome.
Syracuse University-bound tailback Derrick Gore rushed for 239 yards and three touchdowns as the Bulldogs raced out to a 21-6 halftime lead.
But it wasnt like the Bulldogs slowed down the high-powered Warriors (7-2). They just forced head coach Cory Marsells team to take longer to score despite rolling up 497 yards on the ground.
They did exactly what we wanted to do, score quickly, said Marsell, who watched as Nottingham averaged 25.4 yards per touchdown. We knew we had to stop their run, and make them pass. But they hurt us both ways.
Senior running back Darrius Bryant capped off a superb career with a 232-yard rushing performance for Indian River, including a 10-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter. But Bryant said hed give every yard back for a win.
We needed to answer every one of their touchdowns, and we couldnt, Bryant said. I think we left three or four scores on the field tonight.
Clanton, at just 5-foot-8, 170-pounds, showed the Warriors exactly what they were getting into on the Bulldogs first possession of the game. On a third-and-6 from his own 45, Clanton went back to pass, couldnt find an open receiver and dashed 55 yards straight up the field for Nottinghams first points.
Indian River answered quickly, moving 47 yards in eight plays with Jason Smith going the final yard for the score.
Clanton was back at it on Nottinghams second drive, hitting Tyquon Rolon on a 17-yard TD strike. He finished 10-for-14 through the air for 149 yards.
Martys been so consistent this season, Nottingham coach Nick Patterson said. When we need him to make a play, he does it with his arm, his feet or his brain.
The Warriors wasted a golden scoring opportunity late in the first half when Bryant broke off a 62-yard run before being hauled down deep in Nottingham territory. But Indian River could not push in a score from inside the Nottingham 10.
The Bulldogs then moved 95 yards in just seven plays for a score as TyQuon Hightower caught a short pass from Clanton and turned it into a 24-yard touchdown.
We needed to finish off a couple of those early drives to stay in the game, Marsell said. Thats a team you dont watch to play catch up against.
The Warriors took the kickoff and drove 74 yards in nine plays. Quarterback Kody Smith ran 2 yards for the score, and Jason Smith added the conversion run to cut the deficit to 21-14.
But Nottingham needed less than two minutes to score twice more. Gore sprinted 41 yards for one touchdown. And, after a fumble recovery, Clanton and Hightower combined for a 10-yard TD.
If that team isnt state championship caliber, I dont know who is, Kincaid said. Theyve got so many kids to make plays.
Gore added scoring runs of 26 and 3 yards in the fourth quarter.
Densel Barnes went 74 yards for the third Indian River touchdown, and Bryant scored his 15th touchdown of the year later in the fourth quarter.
If you asked me at the beginning of the year if wed go 7-2, I would have laughed, Kincaid said. But the underclassmen really stepped up and gave us a lift.
Said Marsell: The kids did what the coaches asked of them, and laid it all on the field tonight. Im so proud of them.
SANDY CREEK 28, WEEDSPORT 7
Mason McNitt scored four touchdowns and the top-seeded Comets went to 9-0 for the first time in school history by knocking off the No. 4 Warriors in the Section 3 Class D semifinals at Fulton.
Sandy Creek will face No. 6 Westmoreland at 5 p.m. Friday in the Carrier Dome for the championship. The Comets beat the Bulldogs 21-19 on Oct. 5 at Sandy Creek.
McNitt ran 19 times for 135 yards and scored on runs of 4, 11 and a pair of 23-yard runs for Sandy Creek. John Shirley also had 114 yards on 16 carries.
Jake Benedict paced the defense with 12 tackles, while McNitt, Zach Akey and Kyle Finch each added nine stops and Mitchell Garvin had two interceptions.
Matt Pelc returned the opening kickoff 84 yards for the only score for Weedsport (7-2).