As quite possibly the biggest overtime in program history unfolded, the Cheektowaga High School football team turned to KeShone Beal to find the end zone. Beal then turned to his defensive teammates to seal the deal.
Beal ran for a touchdown in Cheektowaga’s OT possession and then the Warriors stopped Maryvale’s two-point conversion try after its overtime TD and held on for a classic 28-27 win over the Flyers in the Class B Section VI championship game at New Era Field.
“It feels really great,” Beal said. “The defense really bailed us out in the end. I was just thinking: “Defense! Defense all the way. I thought our defense could come up with the stop and they did.”
Cheektowaga got the first offensive possession in overtime and Beal ran the ball all three plays, runs of 12 and 6 yards and then a 2-yard touchdown. Connor Desiderio responded for the Flyers with a 25-yard TD run and Maryvale elected to go for two.
The Warriors defense quickly blew up the inside hand off and linebacker Taivaughn Roach stopped Maryvale’s Rashad Law short of the goal line.
“I tried to do what I could,” Law said. “I tried to run through people … I tried. But give their defense the credit.”
Cheektowaga will face Hornell in the Far West Regional at 3 p.m. Saturday at SUNY Brockport. The Red Raiders beat Livonia 22-20 in Saturday’s Section V championship game.
The sectional championship is the third in four years for the Warriors and erased some of the sting of last year’s loss to Dunkirk.
“It feels really good,” said Cheektowaga running back Jaquan Bush, who scored the Warriors’ other TD. “It was important to bring the championship back home after losing to Dunkirk last year.”
After a 7-7 first half, the teams both showed their big-play capabilities in the second half. Beal gave Cheektowaga the lead with a 24-yard touchdown run and then Maryvale responded with a 31-yard TD pass from Desiderio to Ray Blackwell. Beal scored again from four yards out late in the third but Desiderio responded again, this time with a 27-yard TD throw to Dylan Casey early in the fourth.
Both teams had chances to take another lead in regulation but the game headed to OT at 21-21.
“I was just thinking that we could do it,” Beal said. “Never give up. Just keep at it.”
Beal ran for 188 yards and three scores and also threw for 81 yards for the Warriors. Bush added another 78 yards on the ground and Jacquan Pugh had four catches for 33 yards.
Desiderio threw for 222 yards and two TDs. Law had 32 yards rushing and 42 yards receiving. Blackwell had four catches for 91 yards. Defensively, senior linebacker Nick Constanzo was an absolute beast for the Flyers, collecting a game-high 14 tackles.
Maryvale’s season is over at 8-2 but with just seven seniors, there’s reason to be excited about 2018.
I’m very proud of our guys,” Law said. “Credit goes to our seniors, they played their butts off today. But we have a lot coming back. We’re excited about the future. We’ll be back; we’ll be back.”