ENDICOTT, NY – If Zach Arnone was unknown before Friday, he’s definitely known now.
The West Seneca East senior came up with game-winning two-point conversion catch and broke up a potential game-tying two-point pass on the following drive as the Trojans defeated Section III’s Indian River Warriors, 50-42, in the NYSPHSAA Class A Football West Semifinal Friday night.
A few plays before, Arnone made a leaping 32-yard grab inside the five-yard line which set up a Shaun Dolac go-ahead touchdown with 4:34 left.
But the Warriors came roaring back once more as Guillermo Rosario-Acosta scored from two-yards out to bring his team within two. That’s when Arnone broke a pass to Navin Turner along the sideline of the endzone to seal the victory with 2:09 left.
West Seneca East advances to next Friday’s Class A state championship game at the Carrier Dome in Syracuse where they will face Section IX’s Cornwall Central at 3 p.m.
The Indian River team showed off their running game immediately bruising their way on a drive that was capped off by a Kwazsi Gadis five-yard scoring run. Gadis was called upon on for the conversion finding Tanner to give the Warriors the 8-0 lead with 5:39 left in the first.
However on the next drive, the Trojans offense began to move the ball before Dolac took it in from three yards out and ran in the two-point try to tie the game at the end of the opening quarter.
Rosario-Acosta jump-started the ensuing drive with a long run deep into Trojan territory and later capped it off with an eight-yard scoring run. Jayden Henhawk ran in the conversion attempt to take the 16-8 lead early in the fourth.
But the two-point attempt cost the Warriors more then they gained as they took a pair of personal fouls pushing the kickoff back to the Indian River 10-yard line.
West Seneca East took advantage as Devare Mathis went 29 yards for the score. Dolac was stopped short on the two-point try as Indian Hill kept a 16-14 lead with under 10 minutes left in the second.
Despite taking three penalties after getting inside the 10-yard line, Indian River still managed to find the endzone as Rosario-Acosta converted the fourth and goal from the 22-yard line. The Trojans’ defense stopped the two-point conversion holding the Warriors to a 22-14 lead at the half.
The game broke open for West Seneca East on the first possession of the second half as quarterback Bobby Alexander fumbled the ball and Cam Cacciotti was in the right place at the right time, picking it up and going 20 yards for the touchdown. Arnone tied the game running in the two-point try with 9:42 left in the third.
The Warriors later rebounded with a big run from Gadis which was helped by a Trojan personal foul at the end of the play. A few plays later, Gadis gave his team back the lead with a 38-yard with 6:27 left in the third.
After missing on two long throws on their previous drive, the Trojans went back to the passing game. Dolac found Jessie Pfeiffer on back-to-back plays setting up West Seneca East inside the 20. Dolac later capped off the drive with a seven-yard touchdown run and the ensuing extra point by Matt Sztaba put the Trojans ahead 29-28 going into the final stanza.
Indian Hill answered right back as Henhawk went 45 yards for the score and ran in the two-point try to give his team the 36-29 with 11:13 left.
On the ensuing drive, Dolac had a long thrashing run through the middle setting up West Seneca East at the Warrior 30-yard line. Dolac forced his way into the endzone on a fourth and goal from inside the one-yard line to tie the game at 36 with 7:33 left.
After Arnone’s heroic pass break up, the Warriors fumbled the ball away and Dolac took advantage with a 50-yard touchdown run with 1:19 left.
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