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Lancaster Grinds Out Win Over North And Returns To New Era FIeld

This was supposed to be the year everyone got back at the Lancaster High School football team.

The Legends pretty much steamrolled their way to back-to-back Section VI championships but the key cogs from those two teams graduated. This was going to be the year Lancaster took a step backwards.

The Legends never got that memo.

Gianluca Fulciniti scored two touchdowns, including the game-winner in the fourth quarter, Ethan Jurkowsky’s last-minute interception sealed it and Lancaster punched another ticket to New Era Field with a 21-20 win over Williamsville North in a Class AA sectional semifinal at Foyle-Kling Field.

“It’s amazing proving all the doubters wrong,” Fulciniti said. “We were in some tough times but we fought our way through it. Tough people win.”

Lancaster will play Bennett at 5:30 p.m. Friday at New Era Field. The Tigers – who ended the Legends’ 24-game local winning streak in Week 5 – advanced with a 51-27 win over Orchard Park on Friday.

“They’re the only team in Section VI that’s beaten us over the last three years,” coach Eric Rupp said, “so we’re looking forward to the rematch.”

The Legends started strong, marching down the field on their first drive, culminating with a 17-yard touchdown pass from Jason Mansell to Shawn Davis. An interception late in the first quarter by David Gaca gave Lancaster the ball at the North 32 and that ultimately led to a 1-yard TD run by Fulciniti and a 14-0 lead.

North got one back on a short touchdown run by Grant Richards but the extra point was blocked by Matt Marschner, a play that would prove most significant because the Spartans spent the rest of that night chasing that point and didn’t get it.

In the third quarter, Lancaster’s offense was derailed by ill-timed penalties and Williamsville North’s daunted passing tandem of Joe Nusall and Dylan Kelly went to work.  They connected for TD’s of 72 and 58 yards and the Spartans took a 20-14 lead with 40 seconds left in the third.

“Kelly is an amazing receiver,” said Davis, the defensive back beaten on both long TDs. “He got me a couple of times and we just had to fight back. I messed up a couple times but I knew I had to come right back on offense and do what I had to do to catch the ball and just focus.”

He did just that, coming up with a pair of big catches on the ensuing drive. That ended with Fulciniti punching it in from three yards out with 9:58 left in the fourth quarter. Clark Whiteside’s extra point was the final margin.

“I’m really proud of these guys,” Rupp said “It wasn’t pretty at times but they dug deep and handled the adversity and pulled out a gritty win tonight.”

The 21 points scored by the Legends was the fewest they’d scored in a game since Oct. 9, 2015 – a 42-17 loss to Orchard Park. But as they always do, Lancaster found a way to gut out a win.

“That started last winter with all the workouts,” Jurkowsky said. “Most people had perfect attendance or above 90 percent. It’s just all heart.”

“Stuff happens when people work hard. We’re a hard-working team.”

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