The Section VI football playoffs officially begin next weekend. They’ve got a lot to live up to.
On Friday night, Jamestown and Orchard Park packed a postseason’s worth of drama into a tremendous game that featured back-and-forth scoring and went right down to the very last seconds.
No. 1 large school Jamestown is still undefeated, and its offense is still racking up points, but its defense came through to stop Orchard Park’s two-point conversion with 27.8 seconds left to earn a 42-41 victory in the teams’ regular-season finale.
Orchard Park sophomore quarterback Kevin Goltz ran the ball to the left side on the conversion, but was swarmed by Jamestown defenders, who soon after sprinted to their sideline to celebrate a classic finish to an unbelievably entertaining contest.
“It was just a great game,” said Jamestown coach Tom Langworthy. “Orchard Park, everyone knows their history and tradition – they’re a great team. … Tonight was special because our kids battled and fought through, and every time we hit some adversity, we just plowed right through it.
“It was a great stop. Football comes down sometimes to a series of plays, but sometimes it comes down to one play. That’s what it was tonight, and we were able to get the better of that play.”
With the teams’ playoff seedings for the Class AA playoffs set regardless of the game’s outcome – Jamestown is first and Orchard Park is third – the Quakers decided to go for two after a 2-yard run by senior Desean Walker (28 carries, 121 yards) brought OP within one.
“Going for two, we didn’t even think twice about it,” said Orchard Park coach Gene Tundo. “We could have won it right there. Playoff-wise we were set, so we said we might as well win it.
“I just thought it was one of the best high school games I’ve seen in 30 years of coaching. It was a great battle, and they just made one more play than we did.”
Jamestown, which had scored at least 50 points in each of its first six games as it ascended to the top spot in The News large school poll, led for most of the night (19-7 at half, 26-14 after the third quarter) before co-No. 6 large school Orchard Park (5-2) rallied with a 27-point fourth quarter.
Jamestown senior quarterback Jake Sisson completed 26 of 39 passes for 423 yards and three touchdowns, with many of his passes going to 6-foot-4 junior receiver Stephen Carlson (11 catches, 202 yards, one touchdown).
For the Quakers, Goltz was outstanding in the second half, helping move the team via passing (14-24, 243 yards, two touchdowns, no interceptions) or running (22-152, two touchdowns).
OP took its first and only lead of the night, 35-34 with 3:33 to play, on a 65-yard pass play from Goltz to senior wide receiver Christopher Murphy (five catches, 130 yards) but that left Jamestown’s high-powered offense enough time to answer.
The Red Raiders responded with a quick drive that included two third-and-10 conversions, before a 6-yard run by Sisson and his conversion pass to senior Brian Park put them ahead, 42-35, with 2:55 left. OP came right back with a 65-yard drive to put it in position to try to win it with the two-point conversion. After it failed, OP’s onsides kick was recovered by Jamestown.
Orchard Park has beaten Jamestown in the last two Section VI Class AA championship games at Ralph Wilson Stadium. Jamestown won the teams’ regular-season meeting in Jamestown last year.
Both teams will have home games next week in the Section VI Class AA quarterfinals. Orchard Park will host Clarence while Jamestown’s opponent will be determined today.
“It feels so good to win such a close game, especially on the road, a make-a-statement game, win the league championship, all this stuff fits together to make for a perfect night,” Sisson said.
As for the conversion attempt, Sisson said, “It was real nerve wracking, we all locked arms and everything. We saw it was short, and we were like, ‘Let’s get this onsides kick, take a knee and go home champs.’ ”