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  • Writer's picturetgardner1167

Comeback Kings Believe, Head Back to State Semis

The Bishop Kearney Kings only led for four minutes and 19 seconds on Saturday afternoon. Luckily for the Kings, it was the last four minutes and 19 seconds of the game, as Bishop Kearney of Section V defeated the Cleveland Hill Golden Eagles of Section VI 40-38, to win their second straight Far West Regional Championship.

Bishop Kearney kept fighting their way into the game, after falling behind 16-0 in the first half. The Kings finally broke through and took the lead on a 43-yard drive, that ended on 2-yard touchdown run by senior Dahmir Pross.

“I didn’t want to go home and lose it,” Pross said. “We had to come together as a family and show heart. We came through with the win.”

Pross scored all six of the Kings’ touchdowns. The senior ended the afternoon with 165 yards on 28 carries and two catches for 29 yards as he carried Bishop Kearney on his back.

“(Pross) means everything to this team,” Bishop Kearney Head Coach Eddie Long said. “He’s the captain, we go as he goes.”

Cleve Hill got off to a quick start as the Golden Eagles blocked a Bishop Kearney punt on the first drive of the game. The Golden Eagles took advantage as Matt Eldridge took it 22 yards for the game’s first score. The Golden Eagles then marched 69 yards down the field in five minutes, which was capped off by a Tyler Phillips 3 yard run, giving Cleveland Hill the 16-0 lead.

Pross took the ensuing kickoff 81 yards to put Bishop Kearney on the board.

With less than a minute left in the first half, QB Matt LaRocca found a crossing Pross for a 6-yard touchdown, to cut the Golden Eagle lead to 24-14 at halftime.

LaRocca, a sophomore, was 9-18 for 123 yards for Bishop Kearney.

“I love my team; we’re going to finish off what we started last year,” LaRocca said. “Our team has heart, we kept fighting and we did what we needed to do”.

Cleve Hill made an uncharacteristic mistake as Eldridge fumbled the ball on the first drive of the second half. The Kings took advantage with a 66-yard drive that ended on a 6-yard run by Pross, to bring Bishop Kearney within four.

LaRocca threw an interception late in the third, but his defense bailed him out. LaRocca came back on the next drive and made the same mistake as the tip drill came in handy for Ryan Majerowski. The junior linebacker returned the pick to the Bishop Kearney five and Cleve Hill took advantage as Aaron Walher took it in for 6 yards.

With seven minutes left, Walher ran in the Golden Eagles’ final score of the game, his third of day.

“Aaron (Walher) played so great for us this year. He’s just a sophomore but he really made some plays for us when we needed it,” Cleveland Hill Head Coach Glenn Graham said.

The Kings followed up with two more scores to take the lead. With a dinged-up Eldridge, the Cleve Hill offense had trouble moving the ball in the final minutes of the game.

“It wasn’t for a lack of effort, our guys played their tails off,” Graham said after the game. “That was a heck of a team we played.”

Bishop Kearney now makes their second straight trip to the State-semifinals, this time in Class C. Last year, the Kings defeated Franklinville/Ellicottville for the Far West Regional Class D championship.

“That’s how you play to the end. Our guys could’ve hung their heads; it shows our character,” Long said. “There’s something magical about this team. We always believe in our capabilities of getting it done. They just believed in it.”

Next week, Bishop Kearney will face Section IV’s Newark Valley at Cicero-North Syracuse in the Sate-semifinals.

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