Tanner Catches 6 TDs As Maple Grove Rolls
Maple Grove football coach Justin Hanft gathered his players at the 40-yard line for a postgame chat Monday night.
Among the highlights of his brief remarks was the awarding of the game ball.
As he flipped the pigskin in the direction of Easton Tanner, the ball was deflected and it fell to the ground.
Ironically, it seemed like the only time all evening that the talented senior wasn’t able to make the play.
All told, the 5-foot-9, 165-pound wide receiver/running back scored seven touchdowns, including six on passes from quarterback Carson Crist to set a state record, as the Red Dragons rolled to a 54-24 Class D victory over Cattaraugus-Little Valley on Dutch Hollow Road.
“I’m so lucky to have him as a receiver,” Crist said.
“He’s just a natural at everything he does,” added Hanft.
The beauty of it all is that Tanner made it look so easy.
Not only did he catch touchdown passes of 22, 17, 55, 22, 65 and 30 yards — he was the beneficiary of a brilliant performance by Crist (12 completions on 14 attempts for 301 yards) — but he also carried the ball nine times for 69 yards, including a 37-yarder to paydirt.
“I was just doing my job, catching the balls, making plays,” Tanner said. “Our line did a great job tonight and Carson threw some great balls.”
The previous state record for touchdown receptions in a single game, according to the New York State Sportswriters Association, was five held by 13 players. The seven touchdowns in a single game — equaled by many — is good for fourth in state annals. The last area player to accomplish that feat was Fredonia’s Mike McCarthy in 2013.
“Carson and Easton had just a rhythm all night,” Hanft said. “We had plays called that were designed to go to some other kids and it just so happened the play kind of broke down, but they have such a good relationship. It just goes to show the amount of work those two put in in the offseason together, and it worked out for us.”
The win raised Maple Grove’s record to 3-1 overall and 2-1 in the division, while the Timberwolves — despite a heroic effort from senior running back Sam Grey (199 rushing yards and three touchdowns in addition to a 69-yard pass reception from quarterback Jake Harris for another TD) — fell to 1-3 and 0-3.
“We just wanted to come out … and start fast and we did,” Hanft said.
That was due in large measure to the Crist-to-Tanner combination as they teamed up for two touchdown passes in the first quarter, three in the second and one more in the third. By halftime, the Red Dragons led 40-6.
“We just didn’t pay enough attention to (Tanner), believe it or not,” Cattaraugus-Little Valley coach Tim Miller said. “Our kids didn’t show up to play in the first half … We came back a little bit stronger in the second half, but it was too little, too late.”
The Timberwolves did score three times after intermission on Grey runs of 78, 40 and 73 yards, while Maple Grove tallied twice, courtesy of a 30-yard Crist-to-Tanner strike and a 1-yard plunge by David Brown.
“(Grey) had a career night,” Miller said. “I’d be real surprised if he’s not at the top of some people’s lists as an all-star at the end of the year, because he plays hard on defense, too.”
But in a game in which Tanner and Crist were in a zone, there was little the Timberwolves could do to stop the Red Dragon duo.
“It’s one of those things that you’ll remember when you’re older,” Crist said.
“It was incredible,” Hanft said.
As for Tanner’s drop in the postgame meeting?
“I probably didn’t have as good a spiral as Carson does,” Hanft said with a laugh.
NOTES: The game was rescheduled after a power outage on Friday forced a postponement. …. Taige Jones rushed for 88 yards on 16 carries; Zach Hendrick had three receptions for 47 yards, and was successful on five extra-point kicks for Maple Grove. … The Red Dragons were led defensively by Jake Tomlinson with two tackles and 11 assists; Caleb Roller had four tackles, eight assists, one sack and one quarterback hit; and Kyle Trim added three solo tackles, five assists and one sack. … Ayden Reagle, Brendan Russo and Trim each recovered a fumble.
CATTARAUGUS-LITTLE VALLEY 6 0 12 6 — 24
MAPLE GROVE 20 20 7 7 — 54
MG–Tanner 22 pass from Crist (Hendrick kick)
MG–Tanner 17 pass from Crist (Hendrick kick)
MG–Tanner 37 run (kick failed)
C-LV–Grey 69 pass from Jake Harris (pass failed)
MG–Tanner 55 pass from Crist (kick failed)
MG–Tanner 22 pass from Crist (Hendrick kick)
MG–Tanner 65 pass from Crist (Hendrick kick)
C-LV–Grey 78 run (pass failed)
MG–Tanner 30 pass from Crist (Hendrick kick)
C-LV–Grey 40 run (pass failed)
MG–Brown 1 run (Crist kick)
C-LV–Grey 73 run (run failed)