WNY Maritime tops Albion for Class B title
A big second half comeback bid fell short as No. 3 seed Albion dropped a 34-20 decision to top seeded WNY Maritime in the Section VI Class B championship game this evening at New Era Field.
Trailing by 20 at 26-6 early in the third quarter Albion came battling back.
The Purple Eagles first cut the deficit to 26-14 on a 25 yard touchdown pass from quarterback Thomas Furmanski to Kevin Hillman and a two-point conversion run by Brillance Johnson with 7:49 to go in the quarter. A 22 yard kickoff return by Hillman and a 16 yard run by Johnson set up that scoring opportunity.
Maritime then gambled and lost on a fourth down play at midfield giving Albion excellent field position but the Purple Eagles were unable to capitalize.
However, the Albion defense again came up with a huge play, this time on a fumble recovery by Chris Shabazz at the Albion 30 yard line, and this time the Purple Eagles offense did capitalize.
A big fourth down 7 yard pass completion from Furmanski to Shabazz kept what turned out to be a 70 yard scoring drive alive. The march was then capped off by a big 24 yard touchdown run by Deyonci Farley who burst clean up the middle on the play with 6:54 to go in the fourth quarter slicing the deficit to 26-20.
“Our kids kept battling and didn’t give up,” said Albion Coach Adam Krenning. “Our kids have battled like that all season.”
However, the Purple Eagles comeback hopes were dashed seconds later as Maritime’s Reuben Hampton returned the ensuing kickoff some 75 yards down to the Albion 1. On the very next play Hampton plunged over for the touchdown upping the Maritime lead to 12 at 32-20 with just 6:38 remaining, just 16 seconds after the Albion TD.
“That was a dagger to the heart. That took the wind out of our sails,” said Krenning of the big kickoff return. “Their speed is impressive.”
The Purple Eagles got the ball back two more times but could get no closer than the Maritime 45 which was where the first drive was halted on downs.
Another fumble recovery by Shabazz then got the ball right back for the Purple Eagles at the Albion 10 but an errant snap resulted in a safety giving Maritime a 34-20 lead with just 1:38 to go.
Maritme also got off to a quick start grabbing a 12-0 first quarter lead on a 60 yard punt return by Addison Copeland and a 1 yard run by Maurice Vaughn.
Albion did answer back with a 5 yard touchdown run by Farley with 5:29 to go in the second quarter to cut the deficit to 12-6 but the six point margin would be as close as the Purple Eagles would get. Runs of 19 yards by Farley and of 15 and 11 by Johnson highlighted the drive.
Maritime again answered the challenge on a 16 yard touchdown run and two-point conversion carry by John Washington with just 26 seconds to go to take a 20-6 advantage into the half.
Maritime then upped its lead to 26-6 three and a half minutes into the third quarter on a 1 yard touchdown run by Vaughn, a lead which proved to be just too much for Albion to overcome. A 30 yard pass from Washington to Demetrius Potts down to the Albion 1 keyed that drive.
Albion answered back with two scores to again cut the deficit to just 6 at 26-20 but another huge special teams play on the 75 yard kickoff return then keyed Maritime to a clinching touchdown.
“I’m proud of every one of you,” Krenning told his charges afterwards. “You have nothing to hang your heads about. You did yourselves and your community proud. Be proud of this moment.”
Maritime advances to the Far West Regional with a 9-1 record while Albion, which was making its first appearance in the title contest since 2002, finishes the season at 8-2.