RANDOLPH - As the Randolph football team made its way to the locker room following its Section 6 Class D semifinal Friday night, one voice could be heard above all the others.
"We're going to The Ralph, baby!" someone shouted from the throng of teammates.
Indeed, the Cardinals' sixth straight victory, a 35-14 win over Silver Creek, earned them a berth in the sectional finals at Ralph Wilson Stadium. Randolph will take on familiar foe Maple Grove, which defeated Portville, 36-15, in the other semifinal, at 6pm on Friday.
OBSERVER?Photo by Lisa Monacelli
Silver Creek’s Zeddie Williams (44) takes the handoff from quarterback Nick Iskra (10) during Friday’s Section 6 Class D?high school football semifinal game.
"It should be fun," Randolph coach Pat Slater said.
The Cardinals seem to be having a lot of fun on the football field over the past six weeks. During their winning streak, they have outscored their opponents, 251-46, and have not scored less than 35 points in any game or allowed more than 14.
Their steady improvement since a 27-14 loss to Maple Grove in Week Three can be measured by their two games against Silver Creek. In Week Two, Randolph needed a fumble by the Black Knights as they were trying to run out the clock to come up with a late score for a narrow 13-12 victory. On Friday night, the Cardinals were in control for most of the game and after scoring on their first possession of the second half to open up a three-touchdown lead, they were never really threatened.
"We've gotten better but we've got to continue to get better," Slater said. "Every team you play now is a winner and you've got to come to play."
Jordan Dowiasz carried the ball 17 times for 169 yards and four touchdowns for Randolph, and that was more than enough the way its defense played. The Cardinals limited Silver Creek to minus-6 rushing yards for the game, with Dylan Faust leading the way with 12 tackles and four sacks.
See SILVER?CREEK, Page?B4
"They beat us up a little bit up front and pushed us around and that's the game," Silver Creek coach Sean Helmer said. "We were able to move the ball a little bit but not consistently. They're playing great. They had a great defensive scheme for us and I didn't adjust well enough."
Standout running back Zeddie Williams was limited to just 12 yards on 12 carries in his final game for Silver Creek.
Randolph lost its first chance at a score when it drove the ball to Silver Creek's 1 yard line on its opening drive but then fumbled the ball away.
The Cardinals didn't have to wait too long to get into the end zone, however. Dowiasz took an outside toss and ran 45 yards for a touchdown with 2:17 remaining in the first quarter. Micah Kehoe added the first of his five extra points for a 7-0 lead.
Randolph made a second miscue early in the second quarter, when it muffed a punt inside its own 5 yard line and Silver Creek recovered, taking possession at the 4. Three straight runs by Williams backed the Black Knights up to the 6 and on fourth down, quarterback Nick Iskra misfired on a pass to the end zone, turning the ball over on downs.
"Huge defensive stand," Helmer said. "We sputtered and we sputtered at the wrong time. You punch one in there and it might be a different game but it's a game of emotion and momentum and all those things and we kind of let that opportunity slip away."
The teams put together three straight touchdown drives to close out the second quarter.
First, Randolph drove 82 yards on just two plays with Dowiasz picking up 32 yards to put the ball at midfield and Chris Doubek running it into the end zone from there to put Randolph on top, 14-0, midway through the second quarter.
Silver Creek responded by going to the air. Iskra completed 4 of 5 passes and accounted for all the yards on a 75-yard drive that was capped by a 44-yard scoring completion to Tyler Bain. Nate Serio hit the first of two extra points to reduce the deficit to 14-7.
The Cardinals immediately answered with a touchdown drive of their own, with Mitchell Maycock keying the drive. The junior quarterback connected on 4 of 5 passes for 71 yards on the drive and hit tight end Nathan Beaver for a 10-yard touchdown and a 21-7 lead with 29 seconds remaining in the first half.
Randolph added another touchdown on its opening drive of the second half, with Dowiasz scoring on an option play from 20 yards out. Dowiasz accounted for all but one yard of the 54-yard drive.
Both teams found the end zone in the fourth quarter, with Iskra again hitting Bain for a 7-yard touchdown and Dowiasz carrying the ball in from 7 yards out.
Both quarterbacks played well, with Iskra completing 15 of 27 passes for 206 yards and two touchdowns and Maycock going 5-for-7 for 84 yards and one touchdown.
Lucas Brown had 11 tackles and a sack for Randolph and Jeff Andrews and Cody Oldro each added nine tackles.
Now, for Randolph, it's on to Ralph Wilson Stadium.
"That's what you come to play for," Slater said. "When the season starts, let's get to The Ralph and everything after that is whatever. Let's get to The Ralph and let's go play."