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Bennett dethrones Lancaster to win Class AA championship

There’s a new king in Section VI Class AA, and the crown is heading to Main Street. Timely defensive stops and a big day from Dominac Allen led the Bennett Tigers to a 14-10 victory over Lancaster for the Tigers’ first sectional title since 2016, when they were in Class A, on Saturday night at Highmark Stadium. The Legends had won the Class AA title the past five seasons. “It feels good to have the crown,” Bennett head coach Steven McDuffie said. “We always tell our kids, ‘At the time of adversity, you really find out who you are,’ and they really showed that today.” Edgar Key III scored the game-winning touchdown with 10:05 to play in the fourth quarter on a four-yard rush to put the Tigers up 14-10. The Legends had a chance to respond on the ensuing drive, but after getting into the Bennett redzone, the drive faltered as Noah Kimble couldn’t connect with Jack Harrington in the endzone on fourth-and-7. “That was the greatest feeling ever,” said Key on his game-winning score. “Not expecting it, getting in there in a championship game … just battling through everything, it was just good.” The Legends jumped out to a 3-0 lead to cap off an impressive opening drive in the first quarter, as Dylan Bucciferro knocked in a 21-yard field goal just over halfway through the first quarter. It was a first half of missed opportunities for Bennett, as they had multiple drives reach the Lancaster redzone that stalled out. In an attempt to answer Lancaster’s field goal in the first quarter, they reached the Legends 2-yard line on a deep ball from Antonio Davis III to Dominic Howard, but penalties backed them up and the drive ended in a turnover on downs. The breakthrough came in a big way, however, as Allen broke a run to the outside and sprinted 92 yards down the sideline to put the Tigers in front, 6-3 with 9:49 to play in the second quarter, and Bennett would hang onto that lead into halftime. “He’s phenomenal, he shows up to play every down,” McDuffie said of Allen. “He’s worked very, very hard for us … I think his efforts showed today.” Allen finished the day with an astounding 332 yards and a touchdown to carry much of the offensive load for the Tigers. “It’s my first championship game, I knew I had to come out and play,” Allen said. “The team did a good job blocking and we stayed contained, and we came out and got the win.” Despite some Bennett drives stalling, their defense ensured that the Legends were unable to capitalize on their falters. It was this resiliency and defensive integrity that wound up securing the Tigers a championship. “I’m really proud of the defense, the defense did an outstanding job,” McDuffie said. “I think it was an all-around defensive effort … I tell [the team] all the time, ‘adversity don’t build character, it reveals character’ … and I think they showed that today.” The Legends pulled ahead late in the third quarter after Micah Harry finished off a drive with a four-yard run touchdown to give Lancaster a 10-6 advantage. Harry finished the day with 177 rushing yards. Unfortunately for Lancaster, their final drive was just not enough to secure them a score and their sixth straight title. “I am proud of what we accomplished,” Lancaster head coach Eric Rupp. “When we took over six years ago, the program had two sectional championships and had not won one since 1999. I am very proud of all the hard work of the players and coaches.” The Tigers will play in the NYSPHSAA regional game at Williamsville South next week, where they’ll play McQuaid. The matchup is set for a 6:30 p.m. on Nov. 20.

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