ROCHESTER – Running back Jordan Dowiasz said his Randolph teammates played the game of their lives. For their sake, it would be nice if he were off by a week.
Randolph’s season was extended in a big way on Friday night after it defeated Tioga of Section IV, 7-6, in the Class D state semifinal played before an estimated 1,000 at Sahlen’s Stadium. The matchup featured the top-two ranked teams in the state.
The Cardinals (10-2) will play for the state title next Friday at noon at the Syracuse Carrier Dome. They will face Tuckahoe (7-2-1), a 14-12 winner Friday night over Rensselaer. Randolph will make its third trip to the title game in eight years.
Randolph’s defense made sure it would have the chance to add to its state titles from 2005 and 2009.
Linebacker Cody Oldro was in on 10 tackles, none bigger than the initial hit he made when Tioga made the gutsy call to go for two points after finally scoring with 6:10 left in the game. Oldro was quickly joined by fellow linebacker Chris Doubek on the stop.
“We watched film over and over again and we knew they were going to run that play,” Oldro said. “All we did was stuff them in the hole.”
Tioga’s touchdown came on a 35-yard run by Tyler Spires. He finished with 105 yards on 20 attempts. Jesse Manuel led the ground game with 109 yards on nine carries.
Oldro carried a defense that saw Tioga go 0 for 8 on third down conversions and 0 for 4 on fourth down.
“[Oldro] better [make tackles], that’s his job, it’s all designed for him to make tackles,” Randolph coach Pat Slater said. “Those kids up front try to keep everyone off him so that he can make tackles.”
Dowiasz rushed for 101 tough yards on 28 carries. He came up big on the other side of the ball as well. At defensive back he made a touchdown-saving tackle in the open field in the second quarter and he knocked down a pass over the middle in the third quarter that had six points written all over it. Manuel covered 63 yards before Dowiasz got him around the ankles, dropping him at the Randolph 30.
“On the one where I chased the guy down, I didn’t know I was the last guy there. [On the pass] I just got a fingertip on it actually,” he said. “I feel like my teammates all came through … they came out and played the game of their lives.”
Randolph looked poised for a big first half when it scored on its first possession. Tight end Nate Beaver caught a 16-yard pass from quarterback Mitchell Maycock on a play-action pass down the right sideline on a fourth-and-4 play. Micah Kehoe’s extra point kick seemed routine at the time, but would eventually prove to be the game-winning point. “
It was just a quick pop pass,” Beaver said. “I was trying to get the first down, but when I saw the linebacker rolled up, and no safety over the top, I just kept running it out.
“I didn’t even know I was in the end zone.”
Tioga ends its season 10-2. It was the Tigers’ second straight trip to the final four. Last year they lost to eventual state champion Letchworth.