Cardinals Knock Off Aggies 42-26 In Far West Regional Rematch
BROCKPORT — A year ago, Randolph was three wins away from a state championship when it was shut out in the second half of a Class D Far West Regional loss to Oakfield-Alabama/Elba at Strider Field in Jamestown.
Xander Hind and the other returning Cardinals made it their mission to not let it happen again.
On Monday evening, Randolph’s senior running back put his team on his back.
Hind ran 48 times for 281 yards and five touchdowns as the Cardinals avenged that loss from a year ago with a 42-26 victory over those same Aggies at SUNY Brockport’s Eunice Kennedy Shriver Stadium.
“Last year, when we lost, it was heartbreaking. We really remember how that felt,” Hind said postgame. “We kept a chip on our shoulder the whole year, and worked hard in practice just to get back to this game. We got back and took care of business.”
The win sends Coach Brent Brown’s team into their first New York State Public High School Athletic Association semifinal since 2014 on Friday evening at Union-Endicott High School.
“It definitely feels good. I think after last year, we kind of felt like we let them get away with one. I think everybody did,” Brown said. “Tonight, we gave them a taste of Cardinal football.”
In suburban Binghamton, with just three days of rest, Randolph will meet defending state champion Tioga, the Section IV representative that is ranked No. 1 in the state by the New York State Sportswriters Association and is coming off a 42-6 defeat of Dolgeville in their regional Friday night at Cicero-North Syracuse High School.
“They played on Friday so we already have them broken down in case we were in this situation,” Brown said. ” … At the end of Wednesday’s practice, we need to be where we would be at the end of a Wednesday practice. It might take us all day. We’re not going to stop until we get to that point.”
Randolph scored on four of its five first-half drives Monday, the only time it was stopped was on an interception deep in Oakfield-Alabama/Elba territory.
Payton Slade set up the first score with a 41-yard run down to the 2-yard line that only became Hind’s first touchdown when Slade tripped just short of the end zone.
“We had that trap to the back side and he popped it,” Hind said. “The turf monster tackled him around the 1-yard line, but that was awesome.”
After forcing the Aggies’ second punt of the first quarter, the Cardinals drove 96 yards in 11 plays. They went up 14-0 on the first play of the second quarter when quarterback Carson Conley found tight end Jaiden Huntington open down the middle of the field for a 44-yard touchdown. Huntington initially bobbled the ball around the 5-yard line, but was able to corral it as he crossed the goal line.
Oakfield-Alabama/Elba got on the scoreboard two drives later after Kyle Porter’s interception got the ball back for the Aggies. Four plays later, Noah Currier ran around the left end of his offensive line and looked like he was going to be tackled or forced out of bounds after a 15-yard gain, but somehow the senior came out of a pile of defenders and raced down the sideline for a 71-yard score.
“I turned my back because I thought the play was over,” Brown said. ” … He’s really good and their quarterback is really good too.”
Unfazed, Randolph went 60 yards in seven plays, including a fourth-down conversion, before Hind scored on a 17-yard run with 5:16 to go in the second quarter.
“He’s strong. … and he’s fast,” Brown said of Hind. “This year, he’s not afraid to put his head down and get everything after contact as well. When you can do that, 10 yards isn’t that far.”
The Aggies then fumbled the ball into Randolph junior Tristan Farnham’s hands on the ensuing kickoff and five plays later, Hind scored his third TD of the game on an 8-yard run.
Oakfield-Alabama/Elba marched 70 yards in eight plays and scored on a 33-yard play when Porter picked up a fumble by his own quarterback and raced to the end zone with 37 seconds left in the first half.
Just like they did a year ago, the Aggies recovered an onside kick to open the second half and nine plays later, Bodie Hyde scored on a 2-yard run to make it 28-20 after the Cardinals’ Sterling Skye blocked the point-after kick.
“We practiced it. We talked about it for 15 minutes (at halftime). We came out and talked about it again,” Brown said of the kickoff. “We did the right thing, it just bounced, hit him in the facemask and they got it. It’s unbelievable. It started to bring back deja vu all over again, but they couldn’t stop us.”
Armed with just a one-score lead, Randolph’s offensive line went back to work in front of Hind. The Cardinals drove 65 yards in 16 plays – 15 of them runs by Hind – and on the third play of the fourth quarter, Hind scored on a 10-yard run.
“The line was outstanding tonight,” Hind said. “This was really their breakout game. They were phenomenal.”
After Oakfield-Alabama/Elba threw incomplete on fourth down, Hind put the game away with a 9-yard TD with 4:16 remaining.
“He wants the ball,” Brown said of Hind, the program’s all-time leading rusher. “When we got the ball back before our last touchdown he said ‘keep feeding me.'”
In the closing minutes, Randolph finally recovered an onside kick against the Aggies, and after the Cardinals turned the ball over on downs, Huntington intercepted a pass to set off a wild celebration.
The last time Randolph won a regional, it was at the end of a three-year run of state championships.
NOTES: Slade ran seven times for 66 yards. … Currier ran 14 times for 157 yards and a TD; Connor Scott had five carries for 43 yards and a TD; and Hyde ran 12 times for 21 yards and a TD for the Aggies.
Randolph 8 20 0 14 – 42
Oakfield-Alabama/Elba 0 14 6 6 – 26
Ran-Hind 2 run (Hind run)
Ran-Huntington 44 pass from Conley (run failed)
O-A/E-Currier 71 run (Watterson kick)
Ran-Hind 17 run (Hind run)
Ran-Hind 8 run (run failed)
O-A/E-Porter 20 fumble recovery (Watterson kick)
O-A/E-Hyde 2 run (Watterson kick)
Ran-Hind 10 run (GNelson kick)
Ran-Hind 9 run (GNelson kick)
O-A/E-Scott 15 run (kick failed)