Tip drill is difference
Hedlund TD grab lifts Warriors past F/CV/MG
FALCONER — Hayden Hoag says the Salamanca Warriors have a joke: throw the ball up to his brother, Harley Hoag, and he’ll catch it.
After Tuesday night, the Hoags might have to amend the punchline.
Somebody will catch it.
Hayden’s third-and-11 throw into the end zone went off Harley’s fingertips and into the waiting hands of teammate Cole Hedlund for a 31-yard touchdown with 4:44 remaining, sending Salamanca to a 16-13 Class C South victory over Falconer/Cassadaga Valley/Maple Grove at Bill Race Field.
“(Harley) beat his man deep. It was a scramble drill,” Hayden Hoag said postgame. “He tipped it and Cole always hustles. It was incredible how he caught that.”
The Warriors improved to 5-1 overall with the win and, more importantly, 3-1 in the league with games at Chautauqua Lake/Westfield/Brocton and Gowanda/Pine Valley remaining.
“I’m on cloud nine right now,” Hayden Hoag said.
The Golden Cougars, meanwhile, fell to 3-2 overall and suffered their first league loss in three tries. They finish up with road games against Fredonia and Southwestern.
“They proved they can play with the top teams in the league,” F/CV/MG head coach Dan Greco said of his players. “Salamanca is a top team. If we just make a play when it’s there, we’d be sitting in a different spot right now.”
Things weren’t pretty early Tuesday as F/CV/MG led 6-3 at halftime on Dalton Caldwell’s 2-yard touchdown run with 27 seconds left in the second quarter. That score was set up by the Golden Cougars’ longest play of the night, a 38-yard connection from Jackson Gowan to Matt Welsh.
The hosts’ lead grew to 13-3 midway through the third quarter. Gowan ran for 34 yards on first-and-10 from the 39-yard line and a penalty moved the ball to the 14-yard line. After Caldwell ran for 7 yards, Gowan scored on a 7-yard run of his own.
Two drives later, the Warriors went to work, driving 61 yards in 11 plays. On fourth-and-goal from the 8-yard line, Hayden Hoag connected with his brother in the back of the end zone for a touchdown to make it 13-9.
“Cole and Harley run across each other. Last week, they bit on Harley. This week they bit on Cole because he scored twice last week,” Hayden Hoag said. “Harley was wide open. That’s the brother-to-brother connection right there.”
Salamanca then forced a three-and-out, and F/CV/MG’s punt from the 19-yard line only went 21 yards.
“It’s football. They’re kids. You’d like to say you coached the perfect game, but it just didn’t go according to plan,” Salamanca head coach Chad Bartoszek said. “We just weren’t executing early. It was not pretty. Most times when that happens it means the defense is doing something right.”
Jesse Stahlman, who finished with 152 yards on 26 carries, ran for 10 yards on first down, but on second-and-10 from the 30-yard line he was stopped for a 1-yard loss and injured on the play.
With his workhorse running back out of the game, Bartoszek elected to go back to the air, looking to convert and Hoag lofted a high pass into the end zone that eventually found Hedlund for the go-ahead score.
“The fans will be like ‘great play,'” Bartoszek said. “It just happened.”
“We had two of our kids make a mistake allowing the play to be extended. We had him, they were in coverage, it got tipped and fell into his lap,” Greco said. “They were very good, they were very tough; they also got lucky.”
Hedlund then intercepted a Gowan pass on third-and-1 with 3:39 remaining.
Stahlman ran out the clock with five carries for 42 yards, carrying Golden Cougars defenders on first-down runs of 18 and 13 yards in the final minutes.
“I told him, ‘You realize how important you are to this team?’ He’s the heart and soul. He does everything for us,” Bartoszek said. “He looked like he was a little dog tired. … He fought through a lot of that. Jesse is just such a huge part of what we do.”
NOTES: Stahlman ran 16 times for 106 yards in the second half. … Hayden Hoag finished 9 of 14 for 90 yards and two touchdowns through the air. … Falconer/Cassadaga Valley/Maple Grove ran just 14 plays in the second half. … Gowan finished as the Golden Cougars’ leading rusher with 55 yards on 10 carries.
Salamanca 0 3 0 13 — 16
Falconer/Cassadaga Valley/Maple Grove 0 6 7 0 — 13
Sal–Newark 27 field goal
F/CV/MG–Caldwell 2 run (kick failed)
F/CV/MG–Gowan 7 run (Paladino kick)
Sal–HarHoag 8 pass from HayHoag (kick failed)
Sal–Hedlund 31 pass from HayHoag (Newark kick)