North Tonawanda rushed for 473 yards Friday night to beat Tonawanda, 45-21, for its 13th straight win in the century-old cross-canal rivalry.
Nehemiah Stone totaled 161 yards of offense and scored three touchdowns to lead the Lumberjacks in a comeback win before a bipartisan overflow crowd at North Tonawanda’s George J. Vetter Stadium.
“It’s really emotional,” said Stone, a junior tailback who wore a large brace protecting a partially torn anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee. “We did what we had to do. We played as a team.”
Senior running back Christian Mahoe rushed for 148 of his 151 yards in the first half and had two scoring runs for North Tonawanda (4-3).
“He just did an amazing job,” coach Tony Truilizio said. “Very proud of him, as a senior, he came to play and he’ll have this the rest of his life.”
Chris Woodard completed 7 of 14 passes for 105 yards and touchdown passes to Stone and Jacob Ferry (four receptions, 80 yards).
After a back-and-forth first half, North Tonawanda built a two-score lead early in the third quarter and controlled the rest of the game.
“What I love is the fact that we maintained our cool throughout the whole game,” Truilizio said. “Second half, we made some good adjustments offensively and defensively, and from that standpoint, then it opened up for us.”
Tonawanda threatened midway through the third quarter when Tristan Boling scored on a 9-yard bootleg run and connected with tight end Connor Pumm for a two-point conversion to make it 24-21.
North Tonawanda responded right away and Mahoe barreled through a couple of defenders on a 13-yard touchdown run that made it 31-21 just before the end of the quarter.
The Lumberjacks put the game away on their next possession when Stone took a short pass from Woodard and scampered 45 yards to give NT a 38-21 lead with 9:36 remaining.
Less than two minutes later, Tonawanda turned the ball over on downs and Woodard threw a 37-yard touchdown pass to Jacob Ferry on the very next play.
Stone’s second touchdown of the night, on a 15-yard run, gave North Tonawanda a 24-13 lead four minutes into the second half. Tyjier Brandy’s 40-yard run put the Lumberjacks in the red zone.
Mahoe’s 16-yard touchdown run gave the Lumberjacks an 18-13 lead just before halftime.
North Tonawanda turned the ball over twice in the red zone in the first half, the second time on a quarterback sneak at the goal line. But the Warriors could only get out to their own 6-yard line on the ensuing drive, and a low snap forced punter Tim Barnard to take a safety, cutting Tonawanda’s lead to 13-12 midway through the second quarter.
Frye hauled in a 24-yard pass from Boling for his second touchdown of the game to put Tonawanda in front, 13-10, at the eight-minute mark of the second quarter.
The Lumberjacks scored on consecutive drives to take a 10-7 lead early in the second quarter. David Eirchorst kicked a 32-yard field goal and Stone scored from 11 yards out one play after Mahoe broke off a 50-yard run.
Frye returned an interception 90 yards for a touchdown to thwart North Tonawanda’s opening drive and put Tonawanda ahead, 7-0, in the opening minutes.
Tonawanda (3-4) will enter the Section VI Class C North playoffs as the No. 4 seed and play at Fredonia in a quarterfinal next weekend. North Tonawanda did not qualify for the Class A North playoffs.
North Tonawanda leads the all-time series 64-31-9. Next year’s T-NT game will be the first at the Warriors’ new Clinton Small Stadium.