Bennett won on Lancaster’s storied Foyle-Kling Field for the first time in program in October but that win was taken away by Section VI. The Tigers aren’t giving this one back.
!(https://wnyathletics.com/files/2022/11/st_game-5-2.jpg) Photo by Shawn Turri
Antonio Davis and Jayden Lewis connected for three touchdowns and Bennett repeated as the Class AA sectional champion with a 36-10 win over the Legends on Friday night at Highmark Field.
“It motivated us way more,” Lewis said. “We didn’t even look into it, we just realized “Hey, this happened that happened but we still have a chance to play.”
!(https://wnyathletics.com/files/2022/11/st_game-5-3.jpg) Photo by Shawn Turri
That they did with a dominating win over the top-seeded Lancaster, making its seventh straight appearance in the title game.
Bennett was forced to forfeit its first six games for using a player that had played junior varsity at another school last season. Proper paperwork was not filed.
That meant the Tigers needed to win their final two games of the regular season to sew up a playoff spot and then beat Orchard Park on the road just to get back to Highmark.
!(https://wnyathletics.com/files/2022/11/st_game-5-4.jpg) Photo by Shawn Turri
That didn’t faze the Tigers and neither did wearing their road white jerseys on Friday.
“That definitely motivated us,” Davis said. “That took our games higher and forced us to go harder. It feels great and now I just want to focus on moving on to the next level next week,” Davis said.
The Tigers (officially now 4-6) will take on McQuaid Jesuit (9-2) in the Far West Regionals at 7 p.m. next Saturday at the University of Rochester’s Edwin Fauver Stadium. The Knights beat upstart Pittsford 37- 14 on Friday night in the Section V title game at SUNY Brockport. Bennett beat McQuaid, 26-14, in last year’s regional game. “I know they’re going to come back harder,” Lewis said. “They’re a good team, they know we’re a good team so we just have to go get ’em.” Lancaster’s Micah Harry returned the opening kickoff 93 yards for a score. Bennett responded with an impressive 10-play drive, capped by a 1-yard TD run by Darell Hamilton. Davis and Lewis connected on a 63-yard TD pass later in the quarter and the Tigers had the lead for good.
!(https://wnyathletics.com/files/2022/11/st_game-5-5.jpg) Photo by Shawn Turri
“These kids have been through so much adversity that I didn’t think something like that would shake them,” Bennett coach Steve McDuffie said of the opening kickoff. “These kids are resilient and they’ve proven it over and over and over again. We have kids like them, it’s my privilege and my honor to coach them.”
The pair connected again for a 27-yard score late in the second quarter.
On a fourth and 26 play early in the third, Davis hit Lewis for a 33-yard score. Ja’Meer Thomas added a touchdown run and reception from Lewis later in the game.
Officially, Lancaster has lost six games to Western New York opponents since Rupp and staff took over the program in 2016. Four of those losses are to Bennett.
!(https://wnyathletics.com/files/2022/11/st_game-5-6.jpg) Photo by Shawn Turri
The Legends may have been the top dog in Section VI for five years but that honor belongs to Bennett now. And the Tigers plan on marching all the way to that elusive state title.
“We live to fight another day,” McDuffie said. “Now hopefully we can continue to move on and make Section VI proud of us and we can represent Section VI and Western New York right.”