Cards Display Championship Pedigree In Win Over Titans

Randolph’s Jaiden Huntington catches a 9-yard touchdown pass during the first quarter against Franklinville/Ellicottville on Friday night in Franklinville. P-J photo by Tim Frank

FRANKLINVILLE — After losing just three seniors from last season’s Section VI Class D championship team, Randolph is widely considered the favorite to repeat as league champion.

Clymer/Sherman/Panama and Franklinville/Ellicottville would like to have something to say about that.

But just three weeks into the 2022 season, the Cardinals already have a leg up on both of their rivals.

Xander Hind ran 35 times for 275 yards and two touchdowns as Randolph followed up last week’s 35-18 victory over Clymer/Sherman/Panama with a 28-12 defeat of Franklinville/Ellicottville on Friday night.

“The bottom line is if you want to be the best, you have to beat the best. They are the ones we have to beat,” Titans head coach Jason Marsh said. “We know a lot of this goes through them. There are a lot of good teams in our league. C/S/P is a good football team. Portville is a good football team. Randolph is one of the best.”

Randolph’s Xander Hind avoids a tackle from Franklinville/Ellicottville’s Ben Brol during Friday’s Class D football game in Franklinville. P-J photo by Tim Frank

In all, the Cardinals (3-0, 2-0) ran 49 times for 339 yards and never had to punt. They turned the ball over on a trick-play interception to end the first half and then fumbled the ball to the Titans (2-1, 1-1) to open the third quarter — but not until they had already run nearly nine minutes off the second-half clock.

“This puts us in a really good spot,” Randolph head coach Brent Brown said of beating the Wolfpack and Titans. “We don’t have Portville until the end of the season, but I think they have C/S/P and F/E back to back. It’s definitely good to get F/E and C/S/P out of the way.”

After Tristan Farnham sacked Titans quarterback Gian Nuzzo to end the opening drive of the game, the Randolph offense went to work. Hind and Payton Slade combined for nine carries and 44 yards to set up a first-and-goal from the F/E 9-yard line. After running the ball exclusively to open the game, Brown had quarterback Carson Conley drop back to pass and the senior found senior tight end Jaiden Huntington wide open for a 9-yard touchdown that made it 8-0 after Conley ran for the 2-point conversion.

“We had a blown coverage. It was frustrating because we blew the coverage,” Marsh said. “We talked about it plenty during the week and we still blew the coverage.”

“That forced them to put their safety over there the rest of the game,” Brown said of the passing play, “and that opened some things up.”

On their next drive, facing a fourth-and-7 from the Randolph 11-yard line to open the second quarter, Nuzzo scrambled and reached the goal line before he was hit and crossed the plane to make it 8-6, but the 2-point conversion pass fell incomplete.

The Cardinals quickly answered — and it was all Hind. The senior, who is up to 747 yards and six touchdowns on the season, ran for 7 yards on first down before sprinting down the Randolph sideline for a 55-yard touchdown. Hind also added the 2-point conversion to make it 16-6.

Franklinville/Ellicottville went three-and-out on its next drive and the Titans were officially in danger of falling out of the game. Starting at their own 22-yard line with 9:12 left in the first half, the Cardinals drove 78 yards in 14 plays, capped by a 3-yard touchdown run by Hind that made it 22-6.

“In the first half, we made a few mistakes and gave up that one long run. We made them work for it most of the night,” Marsh said. ” … That’s a good football team and you have to play a perfect game against them. We didn’t quite do that tonight.”

After another Titans punt, Randolph actually had a chance to score again before halftime as Huntington ran 16 yards on a reverse and another 15 yards was added on due to a penalty. With 6 seconds to go in the second quarter, Brown called the “Philly Special,” but the double-reverse pass was intercepted by Beau Bielecki at the goal line.

The Cardinals fumbled away their first possession of the third quarter, but Franklinville/Ellicottville was unable to capitalize.

Tristan Farnham tacked on a 1-yard touchdown run for Randolph with 9:44 to go to essentially put the game away before Hunter Smith scored for the Titans with 1:47 remaining.

“We have to execute better on offense. I loved our last drive, we executed a lot better there,” Marsh said. “We need to be able to play perfect. … It only takes one mistake against a team like that to ruin your whole drive.”

Randolph will host Frewsburg next Friday while the Titans will host Portville that same night in Ellicottville.

“You get into some of those games and kids have a tendency to not play full speed. That’s when somebody gets hurt,” Brown said. “You still have to play the games.”

NOTES: Smith led Franklinville/Ellicottville with nine tackles while Owen Chudy and Ben Brol each had seven. Smith also ran for 57 yards.

Randolph 8 14 0 6 — 28

Franklinville/Ellicottville 0 6 0 6 — 12

Ran–Huntington 9 pass from Conley (Conley run)

F/E–Nuzzo 11 run (pass failed)

Ran–Hind 55 run (Hind run)

Ran–Hind 3 run (run failed)

Ran–Farnham 1 run (run failed)

F/E–Smith 1 run (run failed)


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