Just Out Of Reach

Early Deficit Too Much To Overcome, Randolph Falls To Tioga

Randolph’s Jaiden Huntington, right, makes a fingertip catch during the New York State Public High School Athletic Association Class D semifinal game against Tioga at Union-Endicott High School on Friday night. In pursuit are the Tigers’ Rossi Valentino (15) and Caden Bellis (18). Photo by Mike Frame

ENDICOTT — Battered and bruised — nearly broken — Xander Hind emerged from the Randolph locker room Friday evening at Union-Endicott High School.

Randolph’s star running back was about a half-hour removed from becoming Section VI’s all-time single-season rushing record holder, but that was the last thing on his mind.

Hind and his Cardinals teammates needed a moment to collect themselves after their dream season had just come to an end.

Section IV champion Tioga scored on three first-half drives and three-second half drives, and forced three timely turnovers en route to a 41-34 victory over Randolph in the New York State Public High School Athletic Association Class D semifinal at Ty Cobb Stadium.

“They were just an all-around solid team. We just beat ourselves in the beginning and got down early,” Hind said postgame. “It was just too much of a hole to get out of.”

Randolph’s Xander Hind looks for running room against Tioga. He finished with 249 yards on 40 attempts. Photo by Mike Frame

Next up for the Tigers, the defending Class D state champions, is a noon date with Cambridge/Salem next Saturday at the JMA Wireless Dome in Syracuse. The Section II champs beat Moriah 47-22 in Friday’s other semifinal.

“I just feel bad for the seniors,” Randolph head coach Brent Brown said. “They’ve been around for four years as starters, some of those guys, and now it’s the end of the road. It’s tough to take.”

The Western semifinal in suburban Binghamton turned in a three-minute span midway through the fourth quarter.

Facing a fourth-and-1 at the Randolph 32-yard line, Tioga’s Ousmane Duncanson broke through the line of scrimmage for a touchdown that made it 35-26 after Gavin Fisher’s last of five successful point-after kicks.

Hind returned the ensuing kickoff to near midfield, but a 15-yard sideline penalty pushed the start of the drive back to the 34-yard line.

“(The referee) said he ran into somebody on the sidelines. … (A coach) might’ve been standing (close). … That’s an issue I get all the time … everybody is supposed to be back behind the white,” Brown said of the penalty. ” … But, oh man, to make that call right there when you bump into somebody at that point, in this part of the season? That’s a tough one to take.”

The penalty would prove costly.

On the next play, Hind ran 16 yards to break fellow Randolph graduate Chris Doubek’s nine-year-old Section VI record of 2,536 single-season yards, which was set in the Cardinals’ 2013 state championship season.

“I’m happy,” said Hind, who finished with 249 yards on 40 attempts on the night, “but it’s going to take a while for me to really celebrate that goal that I had.”

On first down from the 50-yard line, quarterback Carson Conley connected with Payton Slade for a 40-yard gain, but a Tioga defender stripped the ball around the 10-yard line and the Tigers recovered.

“Fifteen yards farther, (Slade) doesn’t get caught,” Brown said, referencing the earlier penalty. ” … He’s in the end zone and we’re down a score.”

Four plays later, Tioga junior quarterback Caden Bellis ran for an 80-yard touchdown to give the Tigers a 41-26 lead with 6:03 remaining.

“He was really good. That whole team is good. You have to give them credit, that probably is the best Tioga team that we’ve played against,” Brown said. “We had him bottled up, we just couldn’t finish him a couple of times. He was in the pile and there he goes. Down at the goal line, the same thing. He was good.”

Randolph did not go quietly.

On fourth-and-goal from the 1-yard line, Hind scored his fourth touchdown of the game to make it a seven-point game with 2:06 remaining. That run, which would end up being the final one of Hind’s career, gave him 2,577 for the season and 4,870 for his career.

“He’s a great kid on top of being a good football player,” Brown said of Hind, who dislocated his right thumb early in the game. “I hate that it ends this way.”

The Cardinals spent two timeouts while forcing a three-and-out, but had just 18.8 seconds remaining on the clock when they took over at their own 28-yard line following Tioga’s only punt of the game.

On first down, Conley rolled to his right, but was chased down by the Tigers’ Karson Sindoni, who forced a game-ending fumble to send his team back to Syracuse for a chance to defend their title.

“We had a couple of plays set up,” Hind said, “we just turned the ball over again and killed ourselves.”

Tioga went up 21-0 less than 14 minutes into the game on a 6-yard touchdown run by Drew Macumber and a pair of TD passes from Bellis.

“In the beginning of the game they threw a couple of touchdown passes,” Hind said. “That can’t happen.”

Randolph battled back as Hind scored on TD runs of 2 and 10 yards in the second quarter before a 4-yard score with 8:14 left in the third quarter made it 21-20.

“A lot of things happened. We turned the ball over on our first drive and got in a big hole. You can’t do that against a team like that. We fumbled again on our next drive and it ended up stopping a drive. You just can’t make those mistakes,” Brown said. “If we don’t turn the ball over, it’s whoever gets it last wins.”

The teams then traded late third-quarter TDs to set up the decisive fourth quarter.

“Somebody has to win and somebody has to lose,” Brown said. “You have to hand it to Tioga, they beat us.”

NOTES: Bellis ran 21 times for 202 yards and two scores while completing four passes for 92 yards and two scores. … Conley completed four passes for 103 yards and a touchdown.

Randolph 0 14 12 8 – 34

Tioga 14 7 7 13 – 41

Tio-Macumber 6 run (Fisher kick)

Tio-Sindoni 12 pass from Bellis (Fisher kick)

Tio-Rossi 61 pass from Bellis (Fisher kick)

Ran-Hind 2 run (Hind run)

Ran-Hind 10 run (run failed)

Ran-Hind 4 run (run failed)

Tio-Bellis 5 run (Fisher kick)

Ran-Slade 9 pass from Conley (pass failed)

Tio-Duncanson 32 run (Fisher kick)

Tio-Bellis 80 run (kick failed)

Ran-Hind 1 run (Hind run)


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