BUFFALO, N.Y.-Orchard Park survived a late scare from Aquinas to hold on for the 14-7 win in the Class AA Far West Regional from All High Stadium.
Aquinas had a chance to tie in the final minute of the game, getting the ball down to the Quaker 25 yard line, but a fourth down pass attempt into the end-zone was batted down by # 8 Austin Goltz to seal the win for Orchard Park.
In the battle of the big name running backs both Orchard Park's #5 Mitch Wilson and Aquinas' #44 Billy Lombardi were held in check for the most part by the opposing defenses.
In the fourth quarter though Wilson would have the big play to give Orchard Park the game winning touchdown with a 24-yard scamper toput them up 14-7 with 3:03 left.
Wilson finished the game with 84 yards on20 carries and the game-winning touchdown. Lombardi ended the day with 76 yards on 21 carries and a touchdown.
"Our defensive coach had a great game-plan and our kids executed it perfectly," says Orchard Park Head Coach Gene Tundo.
The Quakers controlled the ball for most of the first half but had two drives in Li'l Irish territory stall after not converting on fourth down. The goose-egg was finally broken when Orchard Park quarterback #2 Benjamin Holmes ran it himself from 19 yards out with 1:09 to go in the second quarter. That score would hold true until halftime.
After a scoreless third quarter #21 Ishmael Cox returned a punt 69 yards down to the three yard line for the Li'l Irish. Lombardi punched it in from three yards out to tie the game at 7 with 11:32 left in the fourth quarter.
"I'm proud of our team, our community and our school," says coach Tundo. "We want to keep playing."
Orchard Park goes to 10-1 on the season and keeps their quest to repeat as Class AA champions alive. They will play in the state semifinals next weekend at Sahlen's Stadium in Rochester against the winner of the Binghamton/Christian Brothers Academy game. Aquinas finishes at 7-4 after moving up to Class AA this season.