FULTON Carthage coach Sam Millich called it one of the guttiest victories hes ever been a part of. And with good reason.
Millichs Comets scored the go-ahead touchdown on a Bailey Wilkinson 19-yard run with just over a minute left. Then Dylan James and Nicholas Clary knocked down a potential winning touchdown pass for East Syracuse-Minoa on the final play to preserve a wild 43-36 Section 3 Class A semifinal victory Friday night.
The win moves No. 3 seed Carthage (8-1 overall) into the Class A title game at 6 p.m. Saturday in the Carrier Dome where it will play No. 1 Indian River, the only team to beat the Comets this season.
Wilkinson rushed 31 times for 230 yards and also had touchdown runs of 9, 22 and 1 yard. Josh Capers ran for 192 yards on 24 carries, including touchdown runs of 10 and 16 yards.
We just kept coming off the mat and making plays, Millich said. With so many kids getting hurt, our depth really was a factor. The next man up was always ready to contribute.
James held ES-Ms Pat Bryant, who came into the game with 40 receptions for nearly 900 yards, to just three catches for 14 yards. Quarterback Sean Richardson of East Syracuse-Minoa (7-2) completed 15 of 27 passes for 234 yards, and Jose Sanchez rushed for 208 yards and four scores for the Spartans.
Carthages Denzel Dixon had a key interception for the Comets defense.
The resiliency of these kids is amazing, Millich said. We played with so much heart tonight.
SANDY CREEK 24, DOLGEVILLE 12
Tyler Swarthout scored three touchdowns as the fifth-seeded Comets defeated the No. 8 Blue Devils in a Section 3 Class D semifinal at Rome Free Academy.
Sandy Creek (8-1), the defending Class D champion, will face No. 3 Herkimer for the title at noon Saturday at the Carrier Dome. The Magicians defeated second-seeded Westmoreland 29-20 in the other semifinal at Utica Proctor.
Swarthout ran the ball 13 times for 55 yards and had a pair of touchdowns, scoring on a 1-yard scoring run and a 15-yard TD run. Zach Brown added a 47-yard score in the fourth quarter and also chipped in on the defensive end with 11 tackles, an interception and a blocked kick.
Kyle Fayette ran 13 times for 71 yards and Cameron Hall contributed 69 yards on 13 carries for the Comets.
Devin Coonradt scored on a 12-yard touchdown pass from Reid Johnson and Jason Nastovski added a 2-yard run for Dolgeville (7-2).