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Red Dragons Win Second Straight Class D Title

ORCHARD PARK – The Maple Grove Red Dragons used a fourth-quarter rally Friday night to win the Section VI Class D title against Franklinville/Ellicottville (FE) at New Era Field. Trailing 15-13 with 7:28 remaining, senior quarterback Easton Tanner completed a 13-yard touchdown pass to Zach Fischer that put the Red Dragons in front.

Senior running back Nick Fabrizio scored just a few minutes later to extend their lead 26-15, securing the Class D crown for the second season in a row and their fourth straight sectional title.

“They played awesome,” Maple Grove coach Curt Fischer said. “I’m proud of all the guys, this one in particular is special.”

It was special indeed. As it was coach Fischer’s son, Zach that scored what ultimately would be the go-ahead touchdown. It was also Zach that kicked a game-winning kick two seasons ago when the Red Dragons upset Bennett in the Class C championship.

“It is hard to coach your own son it’s special and I’m so proud of him,” coach Fischer said of Zach.

The Titans took care of business back in week three when they hosted Maple Grove, beating the Red Dragons 26-6 in their own backyard. Throughout the season you sensed it was the Titans’ year finishing the regular season undefeated, piling up 385 points in the process.

Senior QB Brock Blecha threw 15 touchdown passes and ran for another 15 garnering Connolly Cup recognition this year. On Friday, the uncommitted slinger hooked up with Griffin Chudy for the game’s first touchdown early in the opening quarter. It was a 58-yard pass down the sideline that Chudy caught in stride, broke a tackle and raced towards the end zone. Blecha converted for the two-point conversion and the Titans had an 8-0 lead.

FE’s defense forced Maple Grove into a quick three-and-out and began another promising drive.

The Red Dragons defense however had different plans. Maple Grove began putting pressure on Blecha, something the standout quarterback hasn’t seen a lot of in 2017. Ultimately, the Titans were forced to punt.

Nick Fabrizio fielded the FE punt and took it deep into Titans territory, injecting some life into the Maple Grove sideline. The Red Dragons scored seven plays later, Fabrizio barreled his way into the end zone from the two-yard line. The two-point conversion failed, leaving FE with an 8-6 lead that carried into the half. The key play of Maple Grove’s scoring drive was a Tanner fourth and 15 picked up for a first down to keep the drive alive.

The Titans elected to receive the second half kick but their drive was stalled thanks to some stellar tackling by Maple Grove. The Red Dragons took over and the momentum appeared to be swinging in Maple Grove’s direction. But a Ramsey pass was picked off by Tyler Clear of FE and the sophomore defensive back returned the interception to the house, extending the Titans lead 15-6 at the 8:33 mark of the third quarter.

“I tried to do my best for the team,” Ramsey said after the game. “We just kept fighting. I had to put that play behind me because there was a lot of time left.”

The pick six seemed to wake up Maple Grove. The Red Dragons went onto score the next 20 points, catapulting them into the Far West Regionals.

“There a great team, they had that one big play but we just kept playing,” Fabrizio said. “When we came out in the second half we were just a different team.”

The Red Dragons defense did not allow the Titans into the red zone and limited the FE offense to just 180 total yards. The Titans averaged 355 yards per game. Chudy, the Titans leading rusher was held to eight yards on the ground. Blecha was 9 of 17 for 125 yards. They couldn’t sustain any drives which is a testament to how well Maple Grove played all game.

“Those guys (Maple Grove) brought it tonight,” Blecha said. “It’s been a great four years together with these guys.”

Franklinville/Ellicotville coach Chad Bartoszek spent a good 20 minutes consoling his players in the locker room after the game.

“We had a great year we just didn’t have the consistency today,” Bartoszek said. “It was back and forth, when we needed a yard for whatever reason we couldn’t execute when we had to. The effort was there, you could see it on their faces. This is as hard as it gets though, seeing the tears. We just told them that we love ‘em.”

The Titans were the favorite heading into Friday night’s playoff game and they knew it. But, as Blecha said on Tuesday at Media Day, they had to forget about it.

“They were definitely more physical tonight and just outplayed us,” Blecha said.

Maple Grove will find out there next opponent following Saturday evening’s game between Clyde-Savannah and Alexander of Section V. You can follow @SectionVFB on twitter for results of that game.

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