An undefeated season died on South Buffalo’s Fitzpatrick Field last week.
Canisius did not let that happen to its perfect year.
The No. 1 large school Crusaders came up very big in the closing moments to win at No. 6 Bishop Timon-St. Jude, 26-14, Friday night before an estimated 2,000.
Junior Qadree Ollison ran for three touchdowns and 206 yards on 26 carries as Canisius (8-0, 4-0 Monsignor Martin Association) won on the same field where Timon (5-3, 3-1) had handed St. Joe’s its first defeat last Friday.
“This is a big win for us,” said Canisius coach Rich Robbins. “We got off to a bit of a slow start, came out and played a second half that was a lot better, and Qadree Ollison was a beast running the ball tonight.”
Timon took a 7-6 halftime lead. Canisius used a 13-0 third quarter to go up, 19-7, and the Crusaders made big plays to close out the win when Timon had a chance to go ahead.
Timon made it a 19-14 game on a 5-yard screen pass touchdown from senior quarterback Ryan Dougherty to junior running back Adam DiMillo on fourth-and-goal with 6:53 left. The Timon defense then stopped Canisius to give the Tigers the ball as it took over at their 45 with 3:51 to play.
But Canisius stopped Timon on four straight plays, halting two DiMillo runs, containing a screen pass to senior JD Recor and then senior Kyle Abernathy broke up a Dougherty pass on fourth-and-9.
On the next play, Ollison sliced through a pile and sprinted the rest of the way to the right side for a 46-yard touchdown to all but seal things with 1:57 to play.
“It’s a great atmosphere, Friday night lights, it’s what high school football is all about,” said Ollison, a 6-foot-1, 205-pounder. “It’s a tough place to play. I like the way we came out and fought through it and came through with the win.
“We all knew that Timon was a big, physical team. They showed that last week against St. Joe’s. We all knew it was going to be the 4 yards, 5 yards [plays] and the big plays will come, as they did.”
Canisius got two interceptions from sophomore Josh Huffman and one from Kyle Abernathy.
Canisius obtained its 19-7 lead thanks to two Ollison runs in the third quarter, a 5-yarder that finished the Crusaders’ first drive of the second half, and a 15-yarder in which he sped to the wide left side, got the corner and bolted down the left sideline for the score.
Timon’s 7-6 lead at halftime came thanks to a touchdown that came on its lengthy, excellent opening drive. The Tigers converted a fourth down on a steady march that ended with senior Jackson Brown’s 1-yard run up the middle. The extra point was good by senior Tommy Gioia, who beat St. Joe’s with a fourth-quarter field goal last week.
Canisius cut the lead to 7-6 in unique fashion. On fourth-and-goal at the 2, it called timeout, then came out in a “muddle huddle” formation (also known as the “swinging gate”) in which a center hikes the ball to a quarterback with most other players lined up well away down the left side.
Junior quarterback Tyler Mascio (8-13, 67 yards; 6 carries, 58 yards) quickly threw to junior Ryan Richards for the touchdown. Canisius’ extra point was no good and Timon kept its one-point lead.
The Buffalo Bills’ Stevie Johnson — who asked his Twitter followers which high school game was worth checking out Friday night — was in attendance, watching from the Timon sideline.
Next week is the final week of the Monsignor Martin regular season, and Canisius’ game is one that Western New York has been looking forward to all season. The Crusaders are at rival St. Joe’s at 2 p.m. Saturday. Timon concludes its MMA season at St. Francis at 7 p.m. Friday.