Coming into the Section VI Class C title game, Medina quarterback Xander Payne had 185 total rushing yards on the season. On the cold, windy, snow-filled tundra that was Highmark Stadium on Saturday afternoon, the senior doubled that total to help lead his team to a championship.

The Mustangs downed Fredonia 58-6 to repeat as the Class C champions thanks in large part to Payne’s 192 rushing yards and three first half touchdowns.

While both the Hillbillies and Mustangs possess capable passing attacks, the weather in Orchard Park limited both dramatically, as the two sides combined for just one completion in a snowy first half. That didn’t stop Medina from pounding Fredonia on the ground, however, as they ended the day with three 100-plus yard rushers, and 590 rushing yards.

“For us to run the ball in those conditions was huge,” Medina head coach Eric Valley said. “[The linemen] got their feet underneath them, and once there’s any sort of seam in those conditions, our kids were able to pop some long ones.”

After a scoreless first quarter, Medina got on the board just over a minute into the second stanza, as Payne was pushed by his line into the endzone from five yards out for his first score of the day. His 71-yard scamper that featured a nifty spin move to get him into the open field set the Mustangs up in the redzone a few plays earlier.

Later in the quarter, the senior faked a pitch and went 28 yards for a score to make it 16-0 with 7:34 to play, which was followed by a 31-yard rushing touchdown from Greg Thompson. A 54-yard scoring rush in the second quarter in which Payne outran the Hillbilly defense down the sideline tacked on to the Mustang lead, making it 32-0 with 2:34 left in the second.

It was a first half and a game to remember for the senior quarterback.

“I usually don’t [run the ball], we were trying to stay away from it earlier in the season,” Payne said. “It was obviously crappy conditions for throwing earlier in the game, so we just took what we were given … We’ve got an opportunity that no Medina team has ever had and we hope to take advantage of it.”

Fredonia’s Nick Whitfield got the Hillbillies on the board with 37 seconds to play in the first half, as the quarterback had a lengthy rushing score of his own, going 62 yards. It was a spark Fredonia needed going into halftime, but they were unable to build anything off it in the second half.

“Their line just totally outplayed ours,” Fredonia head coach Greg Sherlock said. “They were a lot more physical … We just got to go back to the drawing board, get in the weight room, and we as coaches have to get better.”

Noah Skinner, who finished with 115 yards, added to the Medina lead with a 39-yard rush early in the third quarter, but the fourth quarter belonged to Thompson.

The senior, who transferred in from Albion this year, scored on rushing touchdowns of 44, 82, and 45 yards to build the Mustang advantage in the final frame. He finished the day with 262 yards and four total scores.

“For a senior, he’s still really green with us, learning our system,” said Valley on Thompson. “He just did a phenomenal job, he’s got another gear and he showed it there.”

Defensively, other than Whitfield’s long score, the Mustangs were stout in the tough conditions. The Medina defense has allowed just over eight points per game to opposing offenses this season, and they lowered that average on Saturday.

“The conditions took a lot away from [Fredonia],” Valley said. “Their quarterback has been able to sling it around all year … They had to try and rely on their run a little bit more and our kids played great up front against them. Made them uncomfortable.”

The Mustangs advance to the NYSPHSAA regional game next week at Williamsville South, where they’ll play the winner of the Section V title game between Haverling and East Rochester-Gananda. The regional is slated for noon on Nov. 20.

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