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Valley Sports Report
VESTAL - Tioga's offensive success this season has been predicated on the big play, and Friday night's 50-12 win over previously-unbeaten Dolgeville in the quarterfinals of the New York State Class D playoffs was no exception.

The Tigers, now 10-0 and ranked No. 1 in the state, scored on plays of 57, 44, 1, 73, and 60 yards in the first half to take a 33-12 into the halftime locker room, then added scoring plays of 31 and 40 yards in the first four minutes of the second half.

Tioga coach Nick Aiello has taken pride this season in a diversified offense, but Friday night senior tailback Emmett Wood was the workhorse, racking up 322 yards and four TDs on just 16 carries as the Tigers piled 427 rushing yards on 36 carries. Senior fullback Gavin Godfrey had just four carries for 33 yards, and sophomore QB Caden Bellis did not have a rushing attempt.

"It was mostly due to what Dolgeville was doing," said Aiello. "We didn't come in with the intent to pound Emmett, it was more like "˜let's see what's there.'

"We busted some long plays, but with all the penalties we went with plays that cut the distance in half," added Aiello. "And, we never really got in a rhythm of setting things up, and a lot of times that's what we use Gavin (Godfrey) for."

Aiello praised his senior-led offensive line.

"The line did a great job, especially the three seniors, starting with center Josh Snell, then right guard Chris Walsh, and right tackle Matt Watson," said Aiello. "They take so much pride in what they do.

"They just do a great job of getting the job done, and communicating," noted Aiello. "They also set the tone for the guys on the other side (of the offensive line) (sophomore Karson) Sindoini and (freshman) Tate (MaCawley).

"And, (line coach Adam) MaCawley does a great job, and the kids just love playing for him," added Aiello. "It's a great group."

Walsh says Wood makes the line's job a lot easier.

"We take a lot of pride in doing what we do, but you still have to give Emmett a lot of the credit," he said. "Give us a little credit, but Emmett is a beast. He's running for all the yards, we're just making the blocks."

Bellis completed 4 of 10 passes for 115 yards, including TD passes 44 and 60 yards to sophomore Valentino Rossi. Tioga amassed 542 yards in total offense.

Dolgeville opened the game with the ball, and picked up a pair of first downs before turning the ball over on downs at the Tioga 36.

Two plays later, Wood broke free around left end and raced 57 yards for a TD. Sophomore Gavin Fisher's PAT kick made it 7-0 with 7:04 remaining in the first half.

"In terms of play-calling, we got a good feeling we were going to be able to move the ball after that run," said Aiello. "We were able to relax a little bit in terms of the intensity of searching for what's going to work.

"At the same time, it's strap-it-up and play some defense, and hopefully you can keep moving the ball like we did on the first drive," he added.

After an exchange of punts,, the Blue Devils lit up the scoreboard on a 43-yard TD pass from Greg Gonyea to Kamryn Comstock. Their run for conversion failed, leaving Tioga ahead 7-6 with 2:07 remaining in the first quarter.

Wood fumbled the ensuing kickoff to give Dolgeville great field position at the Tioga 29, but four plays later senior Justin Hopkins sacked Gonyea to give the Tigers the ball back at their 33.

After a 23-yard run by Wood, Bellis and Rossi hooked up on their first TD pass, a 44-yard strike to make it 13-6 with 48 seconds remaining in the first quarter.

Dolgeville's next possession ended in three plays, and a short punt gave the Tigers the ball at their own 41.

Senior fullback Gavin Godfrey ripped off a 20-yard run to start the possession, and Wood broke loose on a 24-yard run to the Dolgrville 8 later in the drive. Senior Isaac Peterson finished off the six-playing scoring drive with a 7-yard run, and a 1-yard TD plunge with 9:22 remaining in the first half to make it 19-6.

The Blue Devils pounced on the ensuing squib kick at their own 40, but three plays later sophomore Drew Macumber picked off a Gonyea pass at the Tiger 13.

After a 14-yard run by sophomore Ousmane Duncanson, Wood hit the corner around right end, and raced 73 yards for a score. He tacked on the two-point conversion to give the Tigers a 27-6 lead with 7:51 remaining in the half.

Dolgeville recovered an onside kick at its 47 moments later, and drove 53 yards on seven plays, taking advantage of a personal-foul penalty against Tigoa to cut into the deficit.

The key plays in the drive were a 23-yard run by Gonyea on third-and-10, and a 10-yard run by Jared Blinksi, who capped the possession with a 3-yard TD run with 5:26 left in the half to trim the deficit to 27-12.

Tioga's next possession was littered with penalty flags. Wood had a 60-yard TD run nullified, and later had a pair of third-and-long runs that would have picked up first downs erased by holding calls. The Tigers were penalized 10 times for 105 yards in the game, including five holding calls.

Tioga eventually turned the ball over on downs at its 41, but forced Dolgeville into a three-and-out, and got the ball back at its 8-yard line with 1:24 remaining in the half.

Wood ripped off a quick 14-yard run, and followed it up with another long run that was called back by a holding penalty.

Wood picked up 9 yards on a third-and-2, then had back-to-back runs of 5 yards to move the ball to the 40. On third-and-five, Bellis dropped a perfectly-thrown pass over Rossi's left shoulder down the home sidelines for a 60-yard TD pass with 15 seconds left in the half to give Tioga a 33-12 lead at the break.

"We understand teams are going to load the box up on us to stop the run, so this is a threat we want," said Aiello. "If teams are going to go one-on-one on the outside, and only play one high safety, we can take advantage of that with Caden's arm.

"Tonight, it was a one-on-one match-up we liked, and that's why we were going deep," noted Aiello.

"That's what's made this year special, we've been able to take advantage of whatever the defense is doing, rather than trying to pound our head against the wall," he added.

Wood returned the second-half kickoff 44 yards to the Dolgeville 26 to set the Tigers up in great field position. After a delay of game call against the Tigers, Wood scored on a 31-yard TD run. Fisher's PAT kick made it 40-12 just 17 seconds into the second half.

After forcing Dolgeville into a three-and-out, Tioga took over at its 41. Two plays later, following yet another holding call against the Tigers, Wood busted loose on a 40-yard TD run. Fisher's kick made it 47-12 with 8:19 remaining in the third quarter.

Sophomore Evan Sickler's interception put an end to Dolgeville's next possession, and Tioga subbed freely for the remainder of the game.

Fisher tacked on a 33-yard field goal with 1:56 remaining in the game to provide the final margin.
Dolgeville entered the game averaging nearly 300 rushing yards per game. Blinski led the Blue Devils with a hard-earned 128 yards on 30 carries as part of 190 rushing yards as a team.

Aiello said the key was employing a seldom-used 5-man front.

"Our game plan was to bottle up their big back and I thought we did a good job - he's a hell of a back," said Aiello.

"We played a defensive front we don't play a lot, but we felt we had to get an extra guy down to not allow their line to get a push," he added. "We were able to free up some people and bottle up (Blinski) a little bit."

Snell said the Tigers benefited from a quickness advantage.

"We may be under-sized compared to (Dolgeville's) linemen, and for the rest of the playoffs we will be, but we're some of the fastest linemen in the state," he said. "We just have to punch it to them, get in the backfield, and make plays."

Tioga's senior linemen said the win is "another step" toward their ultimate goal.

"It's another step closer to the state championship game we've been working toward for four years now," said Watson.

"The coaches have talked about this - about taking it one game at a time," said Snell. "We've been working very hard for our goals, but we just take what's in front of us when it's there."

"It's just one step," said Walsh. "Coach has been calling it "˜the last dance' ... we've been working to get to the state championship game, and win it."

Tioga will face Section V's Oakfield-Alabama-Elba, ranked third in the state, in the state semifinals Friday at 3 p.m. at Cicero-North Syracuse High School. OAE upended second-ranked Randolph, 28-22, Friday night in a quarter-final matchup.

"Honestly, I would have loved to play Randolph, but Oakfield won, so they must be a hell of a team," said Aiello.

"It's the state semifinals, it's about preparation, and taking the approach you build up all year long to get these kids ready so when they get to a moment you want them to excel, they're ready to go," he added.



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