ROCHESTER — Depew scored on its first drive of the Class B state football semifinal Saturday afternoon. It also scored in the final minute of the game.
In between, two-time defending state champion Maine-Endwell showed why its winning streak is now at 37 games. The Spartans smash-mouthed their way to a 35-13 victory over Depew to earn the program’s third straight trip to the Carrier Dome in Syracuse.
Maine-Endwell (12-0) will meet another team that rolled to the Dome when it faces Section II champion Schalmont. The Albany region team rolled to a 66-0 win over Marlboro of Section IX (Dutchess, Orange, Sullivan, Ulster counties).
Darnel Woolfolk ran for 192 yards and two touchdowns on 17 carries for Maine-Endwell, which outgained Depew, 379-153, and had 20 first downs to Depew’s eight.
“They’re a darn good football team,” Depew coach Brian Wilson said of Maine-Endwell. “We didn’t help ourselves out. We had some inopportune penalties and turnovers and missed tackles, and you can’t do that against a championship caliber football team.”
Depew (9-3) started the game as if it was ready to shock the New York State football world. Maine-Endwell fumbled on its opening drive, and Depew sophomore Mebrok Elbanna recovered to set the Wildcats up at the Spartans’ 48 1:17 into the game.
Six plays later, which included two effective runs from junior running back Rodney Turner (10 carries, 45 yards) and one from senior Dan Golba (7-21), sophomore quarterback Dylan Sekuterski (9 of 14, 62 yards) rolled right and hit senior Cody Penner for a 15-yard touchdown pass and a 7-0 lead.
“We did exactly what we thought we could do against them, we executed and it came out good,” said Wilson. “It was a little bit tougher from that point on.”
Maine-Endwell answered almost as soon as it could. On its next play from scrimmage, Woolfolk ran for a splendid 62-yard touchdown. The 5-foot-10, 220-pound senior received good lead blocks that helped him gain the left side, then he patiently took on a few would-be tacklers, juking as some of them slid past in the snow, before running down the left sideline for the game-tying score just 23 seconds after Depew had taken the lead.
“I was super-proud of our guys for responding to that,” M-E coach Matt Gallagher said of Depew’s opening score. “They came out and took it to us on the first drive, but our guys did a great job of responding and getting the job done.”
The Spartans, who also dominated Alden in the first half of a 49-14 victory in last year’s state semifinal, then forced a Depew three-and-out before going on an impressive – but much longer – scoring drive. M-E went 80 yards in 13 plays, finishing the drive on a 2-yard run by senior Colin Lasalle on which he shook off a tackler behind the line of scrimmage before getting to the left pylon for a 14-7 lead with 51 seconds left in the opening quarter.
“Our offensive line did a fantastic job and got some good angles on those big guys and get us up the field,” said Gallagher. “And when Darnell, or Colin, and Trevor or Kyle, whoever has the ball, they do a great job running the ball.”
M-E added two scores in the second quarter to gain firm control of the game by halftime, 28-7. Two of Gallagher’s three sons who play for him connected on the next touchdown as senior quarterback Kyle Gallagher hit younger brother Adam, a junior, for a 19-yard pass with 4:46 left in the half.
Senior defensive back Alec Wisniewski recorded a couple of his high-impact plays on the afternoon for M-E when he halted a Turner run up the middle with a thunderous hit. On the next play, a third-and-1, Wisniewski intercepted Sekuterski on the left side of the field to set up Maine-Endwell at the Depew 26. Four plays later, Lasalle went in from 12 yards out for the 21-point lead at halftime.
Wisniewski finished with seven tackles, including a guided-missile-like tracking of a fourth-quarter fake punt attempt by Depew in which he locked on to senior Jacob Coburn and brought him down with a hard, diving tackle.
Woolfolk’s second touchdown of the game was a 21-yarder in the third quarter that put M-E up, 35-7.
Depew didn’t score again until there were 51 seconds left as Sekuterski ran in from 2 yards out.
Sekuterski was one of several Wildcats who stepped into roles this season after injuries affected the team.
He took over after senior quarterback Anthony Buono was injured. Turner was outstanding during the season but was hurt late, which led to players like Golba and Nick Perrine (who was out injured Saturday) making an impact running the ball for Depew. They helped avenge a regular-season loss to Alden by beating the three-time defending champion Bulldogs in the Section VI final. Depew also lost to Lancaster in its Week Seven rivalry game.
“This is a great accomplishment for these guys – I’m so proud of them,” Wilson said. “They battled back. I think people left us for dead after that first Alden loss, and then the bump we had against Lancaster, I think they did again. They’re resilient and they kept battling back and they did a great job. I’m real proud of them.”