Below is my live blog from the instant-classic, 23-20 victory by Grand Island at Williamsville South Friday night.
It includes videos that I added later. Some of my comments -- the ones entirely in bold -- I added later as well.
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Hello from a very, very wet press box and field at Williamsville South, where the Billies host Grand Island in a big-time Section VI quarterfinal in Class A.
6:57 p.m. This will be interesting. I have the laptop on my lap (go figure) because the rain is coming in the front windows of the press box. I need to see out the window, so we'll just deal with it. Not sure how I'll keep notes too. Should be fun :-)
7:04 p.m. We've kicked off and GI takes over at its 33.
7:05 p.m. Will South standout quarterback Joe Licata is warming up on the sideline with two kids nearby drying balls off with towels.
7:07 p.m. After a punt by GI's Joel Klock and a good roll, South takes over at its 20.
7:12 p.m. Grand Island stops Will South on a fourth-and-3 from its 38 as Licata hits Coppola in the left flat but GI swarmed him and takes over at its 36 (below).
7:17 p.m. Grand Island scores a TOUCHDOWN on a huge passing play from quarterback Joel Klock to Pat Gallagher, who ran a crossing route from the left side, receiving the ball over the middle and ran down the right sideline for the score. Two South defenders appeared they may have collided during the pattern. Nate Benoit hits a low, hard extra point up and through and GI has a 7-0 lead.
7:24 p.m. Will South on a nice drive, which started at its 25. Tyler Krempa had a 43-yard run to give South a first-and-goal and it faces a fourth down at the 6.
7:26 p.m. On fourth-and-goal, South initially set up in field goal formation, then spread out and called timeout. South then came out in a normal formation and Licata hit Krempa on the right side for a TOUCHDOWN to cut the Grand Island lead to 7-6. Krempa's extra point attempt was hit well but was apparently wide right.
7:32 p.m. We are at the END OF THE FIRST QUARTER and Grand Island has its 7-6 lead and faces a fourth-and-2 at the Will South 12. GI appeared to fumble the last play and South appeared to come up with the ball, but officials gave the ball to GI. GI came out to run the crucial play but coach Dean Santorio called a timeout.
7:38 p.m. That fourth down play was indeed crucial -- Dillon Gallagher of South reached up and plucked a screen pass for an interception he returned all the way to the GI 11 (below).
South couldn't convert, however, as Licata just missed connecting with Coppola on third down and Stasiak on fourth (below).
7:47 p.m. GI took over on its 10 on the ensuing possession but punted (a good one by Klock); South took over at its own 18 and would punt from its 33; Grand Island takes over at its 30.
7:51 p.m. GI calls a timeout with 3:23 left in the second quarter facing a third-and-4 at the South 42.
8:07 p.m. We are at HALFTIME and Grand Island leads Williamsville South, 7-6.
The last thing we saw was potentially very bad news for South: Licata was down for a good minute or two after the final play of the half -- an incomplete heave by Licata from his own 30 -- and he limped off the field for the halftime break.
An update since the 7:51 posting: GI had to punt but Klock unleashed another nice one to pin South at its own 2; South went three and out and Licata's punt rolled to South's 31. GI couldn't cash in on the possession, as a 34-yard field goal attempt missed badly in the rainy, muddy conditions. South took over and didn't move much in three plays, the last of which might be very painful if Licata is hurt.
8:26 p.m. We're back with the second half -- GI kicked off a grounder that was tricky but reeled in by South. Licata appears to still be limping.
8:28 p.m. South's first drive is a three and out. Licata's punt leaves GI to set up at its own 30. This a one-point game but it doesn't feel like it right now.
8:36 p.m. South takes over at its 12 after Grand Island's possession fizzles -- a big part of that was a big sack by Krempa that put GI in a third-and-18 after a second-and-8.
8:41 p.m. South scores a TOUCHDOWN to take the lead, 12-7. On first down at the Grand Island 40, Krempa took a handoff to the left side, followed some blocks for a nice gain, then did some seriously nice cutbacks as he went the distance for the touchdown. He alternately sped up and put on the brakes on some cutbacks, then sped down the left sideline. Krempa couldn't run it in up the middle on the two-point conversion, however.
8:46 p.m. Grand Island has answered very nicely with a TOUCHDOWN with 57 seconds left in the third quarter. On first-and-goal at the 6, Lalonde bulled and churned his way to the end zone, following his line and then pushing it forward as he worked his way over the goal line (below).
The two-point conversion fails (below) when Michael Lang drags down Lalonde. Grand Island leads, 13-12.
8:49 p.m. South takes a timeout before its first play, a first down at its 34 with 52 seconds left in the third. That could prove costly -- the only good news for South is that GI had to spend a timeout before its conversion attempt.
8:53 p.m. At the END OF THE THIRD QUARTER, Grand Island has a 13-12 lead at Williamsville South.
8:56 p.m. We have quite the game here. Williamsville South now leads, 20-13. Coppola took an end around from the left side and sped to open space on the right, making a sweet cutback inside the 5 to gain the end zone with 11:53 left in the fourth.
9:09 p.m. We have a tie game: Grand Island 20, Williamsville South 20. Lalonde finished off a long, impressive drive with a 2-yard run with 6:47 left in the game -- or should I say regulation.
Here's part of what made the drive impressive -- a third-and-10 pass from Klock to Pat Gallagher.
Here's another -- a 16-yard pass to Gallagher that gave GI a first-and-goal at the 6.
And here's LaLonde's TD run.
And here's Benoit's solid PAT kick to tie the game.
9:26 p.m. What a game. Too much going on for updates. There is 43 seconds left in regulation and GI faces a fourth-and-8 at the Will South 46.
Below is the muffed punt that was recovered by LaLonde to set GI up at the South 48 with 1:25 left. Sorry about the poor audio. I think my hand was covering the microphone.
Below is the outstanding fourth-and-8 pass by Klock to Steve Vitello.
Below is another outstanding throw by Klock, I believe again to Vitello. Play-by-play -- on this and many other plays -- brought to you by WGR's Brian Koziol.
9:30 p.m. Grand Island's Nate Benoit just kicked a 42-yard FIELD GOAL -- in the rain! -- to put Grand Island up, 23-20, with :07 on the clock. Unbelievable.
9:37 p.m. We have a FINAL SCORE: Grand Island 23, Williamsville South 20.
A zany finish which included a penalty after South tried a crazy lateral-filled play on its final play. A flag was thrown on Grand Island for too many men on the field. South got one final play from the Grand Island 31, and Licata got off a heave to an apparently open Coppola in the end zone. Defenders flocked to Coppola, and it appeared that there may have been contact in the end zone -- but there was no flag. South fans and players were protesting in a major way but there was no penalty. The rain picked up and Grand Island celebrated.
Time for a lot of work for me. More to come.
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Below is South's lateral play. You can hear the horn sound early in the play. The official on the right throws the flag after players came off the sideline. I think I counted eight or nine laterals. The video is 55 seconds and the play was nearly as long.
Below is the announcement of the penalty. I edited the video down. It took a while.
Below is the final play of the game, which occurs in the far side of the end zone, but you can certainly hear several people in the South press box react ("interference!") the same way the South sideline reacted, and you see coach Kraig Kurzanski head towards the officials as they walked off the field.
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Klock on the end of the game
An interview with Benoit after the game -- in the rain, by the bus. It's "pretty cool."
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Here's my story on the game, which includes video interviews.