A touchdown is worth six points, but Mike Watson of the Jamestown Red Raiders scored one that was worth 14 points on Friday night.
Late in the third quarter, the host Red Raiders were leading a Section 6 Class AA semifinal game over the Frontier Falcons, 21-14. But Frontier had a fourth-and-goal play at the Jamestown 7-yard line with a chance to tie the score.
Instead of tying the score, Watson intercepted a pass and returned it 93 yards for touchdown and a 28-14 Red Raiders lead with 11:38 left in the game. Then Jamestown went on to score two more touchdowns for a 42-14 victory.
Above, Jamestown’s Da’Quan Hollingsworth takes off for some of his 193 yards gained in a Section 6 Class AA?semifinal win over Frontier on Friday night. Below, Red Raiders’ quarterback Jake Sisson is also on the loose and he rushed for 102 yards. See additional photos at cu.post-journal.com.
P-J photos by Jim Riggs
''We've been preaching all week that we have to work hard on defense,'' Watson said. ''That was going to be our game winner if we could just finish on defense and I had that on my mind. I knew what I had to do and I got the pick and brought it back. Nothing was going to stop me.''
He added, ''There was nothing in front of me but green. It was a great feeling. There's no better feeling than knowing I had just iced the game.''
Jamestown coach Tom Langworthy said, ''Obviously, the play of the game. He got the ball, he broke away and when I saw Steve Carlson step in front of the closest player chasing him I knew he was going to score. I was delighted, to say the least.''
And with the victory, Jamestown (8-1) will make a return trip to Ralph Wilson Stadium for the Class AA championship game next Saturday at 7 p.m. The Red Raiders will face either Lockport or Orchard Park, who play today at 2 p.m. at Lockport.
Last year, Orchard Park defeated Jamestown in the title game.
''I just can't say enough about the whole team,'' Langworthy said. ''Mentally, they are so tough. They fight back all the time and they just keep a level head about them. No one has given us anything, we deserve to be where we're at.''
Jamestown came out passing on its first possession, but the first time running back Da'Quan Hollingsworth touched the ball he raced 48 yards up the middle for a touchdown and Zach Panebianco kicked the extra point for a 7-0 lead after 2:47 of play.
''I hit that hole and I was out,'' said Hollingsworth, who finished with 193 yards on 20 carries. ''I can't do it without my line.''
On the Red Raiders' next possession, Hollingsworth thought he had another touchdown on a 57-yard run, but it was called back on a holding penalty. That possession eventually ended when Frontier's Alexander Licata intercepted a Jake Sisson pass. But two plays later, Panebianco picked off a Ben Koch pass at the Falcons' 8-yard line.
From there, Hollingsworth carried for 3 yards and then for 5 into the end zone. Panebianco again kicked the extra point for a 14-0 lead with 4:05 left in the first quarter.
However, Frontier bounced right back and scored after the ensuing kickoff. On a third-and-12 play, Koch hit a wide-open Cameron Coon in the right flat for a 45-yard touchdown play. But Joe Mistretta blocked Adrian Cannon's extra-point kick to keep the Jamestown lead at 14-6 with a second left in the first quarter.
Late in the half, Frontier's Ryan Harver intercepted a Sisson pass at the Red Raiders' 25. From there the Falcons converted on a third-and-three and a third-and-two. Then Coon scored from 2 yards out and Koch ran around left end for the two-point conversion to tie the game at 14-14.
''We came back before with them,'' Frontier coach Tim Myslinski said, referring to a 35-28 win over the Red Raiders last month.
''I thought if we could get one more (touchdown to make it 21-0), that would really get them desperate,'' Langworthy said. ''But they came back and they were able to get those two, but we kept grinding.''
Frontier squibbed the second half kickoff and Conner Anderson grabbed the short kick and made a short return to the Jamestown 42. The Red Raiders attempted a run up the middle with Hollingsworth, but it was good for only 1 yard. They came back with the same play and Hollingsworth broke loose for a 57-yard touchdown run and Panebianco kicked the extra point for a 21-14 lead less than a minute into the second half.
''I looked at the end zone and I knew we had to get it in so I put my mind to it and got into the end zone,'' Hollingsworth said. ''
Then Frontier produced its chance to tie when Licata blocked a Panebianco punt and Brandon Wilczeski returned it about 80 yards to the Jamestown 7 where Anderson knocked him out of bounds. But on a fourth-and-goal play at the 7, Watson picked off a Koch pass and returned it 93 yards for a touchdown. Panebianco kicked the extra point and instead of the Falcons possible tying the game, the Red Raiders were in front 28-14 with 11:38 left in the fourth quarter.
''We had to get out of our comfort zone,'' Myslinski said. ''We were running option and we were successful. It was probably not the best play by me. There was another play I wanted to call, but I didn't. But kids make plays and the wrong-colored jersey made the play on that one.''
Then he smiled and said, ''I hate red.''
After the kickoff, Frontier managed to drive within the Red Raiders' 40 where they faced a fourth-and-nine play. Koch completed a screen pass to Bertrand Cuthbert, who had plenty of blockers. But Justin Capuano slipped through for a tackle that held the play to a 5-yard gain and Jamestown took over at its own 33.
The Red Raiders eventually faced a third-and-five at their own 41 when Hollingsworth took off on what appeared to be a short gain. But he broke tackle after tackle by twisting and turning and was eventually brought down at the 7, 34 yards later.
''I couldn't do it without Cortland Haines on that one,'' Hollingsworth said. ''I was going to get free and I saw this one dude come up and Cortland just took him off his feet and that just helped me. I got open and more guys started to grab onto me and I just said I'm not going down.''
From there, Sisson carried for 3 and then Haines rumbled 4 yards for the touchdown and Panebianco's kick upped the Jamestown lead to 35-14 with 4:09 left to play.
After the kickoff, Frontier fumbled its first play and Haines recovered the ball at the ball 24 yards to the Falcons' 1. At 15-yard penalty moved the Red Raiders back, but they eventually got in the end zone again when Haines scored from 2 yards out on a direct snap.
Did the lineman ever think he would score back-to-back touchdowns?
''I never thought that,'' Haines said. ''It felt great to step up and do something great for my team.''
When he wasn't scoring touchdowns, Haines recorded 11 tackles, as did John Czech. Capuano was the leader with 17 and Watson had nine.
Sisson finished with 10 rushes for 102 yards and he complete 3 of 11 passes for 54 yards.
''We have three season goals,'' Langworthy said. ''One is to go undefeated at home and we did that tonight, that's done. Two is make it back to the Ralph and we're going back. And three is to earn a Section 6 title and we're going to be in the game to do that next week.''
And the opponent will be decided this afternoon.
Frontier6 8 0 0 - 14
Jamestown 14 0 7 21 - 42
Jam-Hollingsworth 48 run (Panebianco kick)
Jam-Hollingsworth 2 run (Panebianco kick)
Fro-Coon 45 pass from Koch (kick failed)
Fro-Coon 2 run (Koch run)
Jam-Hollingsworth 57 run (Panebianco kick)
Jam-Watson 93 interception return (Panebianco kick)
Jam-Haines 4 run (Panebianco kick)
Jam-Haines 2 run (Panebianco kick)