For the remainder of the first half and throughout the second half, the game turned into a defensive battle with neither team able to find the endzone. The Lockport field turned to soup as well, as it does even after a minor rainfall, which contributed to the remaining see-saw possession game.
“I thought that defensively, we answered the call,” said Lions senior lineman Marshall Taylor. “The score didn’t match how our defense played. It should have only been around 9-0, but we were stuck in some tough spots at times.”
Added Lions’ sophomore linebacker D’Andre Jenkins, “We didn’t play as well in the first half as we did in the second half, but as the game went on we got more aggressive and did a good job defensively.”
Next up, the Lions return to AA action with a game at Niagara Falls at 2 p.m. Saturday, while Frontier plays at West Seneca West in its fourth straight AA contest.
Tonawanda 17, Newfane 7
NEWFANE — Two storied local football programs with identical divisional and overall records slugged it out in a persistent rain.
The Tonawanda Warriors held the Newfane Panthers to just six rushing yards in first half and 68 for the whole game, earning a 17-7 Section VI Class C North victory on Saturday afternoon.
With the win, head coach Rob Gross’ Warriors improved to 2-1 in C North and are 2-1 overall. Head coach Chuck Nagel’s Panthers fell to 1-2 in C North and are 1-2 overall.
Tonawanda’s defense caused five turnovers in the contest (3 interceptions, 2 fumbles). Connor Pumm, Corbin Snyder and Jordan Cifarelli had the picks and Tim Barnard had the fumble recoveries.
“It was a great team win today. Our defense dominated and our offense controlled the clock in the second half. We caused five turnovers and we didn’t have any,” Gross said.
“We have a swarming defense and a team mentality. We’re getting multiple helmets to the ball. If the opposing offense has success, guys don’t hang their heads, they make a play on the next down. I’m extremely happy with our defensive attitude. We’re playing 11-man defense.”
The visiting Warriors opened the contest with a 27-yard field goal from Pumm on a slick field. Pumm wasn’t through yet in the first quarter, intercepting a Josh Kneeland pass moments later and returning it 23 yards to pay dirt. Pumm’s extra point gave the Warriors a 10-0 lead after one quarter — a lead that held up to halftime.
Tonawanda upped its lead to 17-0 in the third quarter when Cifarelli hauled in a 26-yard TD pass from quarterback Chris Mara (7 for 10 passing, 91 yards, TD), who was making his first varsity start.
“We’re improving every week and getting better in all phases of the game,” Gross said. “I’m excited, too. We have to have a short memory and get even better this week. I’m proud of the way we’ve played. We have been physical and they’ve been great teammates. It’s fun to be the coach of this team.”
The Panthers avoided the shutout when junior running back Kyle Burdick (9 carries, 30 yards, TD) scored on a four-yard run. Panthers junior Kyle Guerriera’s extra pont rounded out the scoring.
“The weather neutralized us today,” Nagel said. “We had balls sliding all over the place and slipping out of our receivers’ hands. But we’ll be okay.”
Tim Barnard topped the Warriors with 106 yards on 28 carries. Defensively for Tonawanda, Paul Palladino recorded 9 tackles and Will Galley added 6 tackles, including 2 sacks.
For Newfane, their senior QB Kneeland finished 8-for-24 passing for 121 yards and 3 INTs. Kneeland also carried the ball nine times for 25 yards. Defensively, senior Nathan Auernhamer had 7 tackles, including a sack, while super sophomore Jake Kubala added 6 stops for the Panthers.