CSP was playing its finest football of the season entering the Class D Western Semifinal Friday afternoon. Unfortunately, so was their opponent, Tioga. The Tigers out of Section IV played the perfect game, defeating the Section VI champions 63-16 at Cicero-North Syracuse High School in Cicero, NY.
Senior running back Drew Macumber rushed for 218 yards and four touchdowns leading Tioga to their third straight Class D Title game. Tioga used a ground and pound attack all evening as CSP struggled to contain the Tigers run game. Ousmane Duncanson, Caden Bellis and Jonah Lamb also scored rushing touchdowns for Tioga.
“We came into this game knowing they were going to run right at us,” Ty Harper, head coach of the Wolfpack said after the loss. “We tried to stop it, we tried to slow it down but we just didn’t have an answer for it.”
Tioga never punted.
The Tigers first drive ended with a Macumber 29-yard scamper. Facing 4th-and-5 just inside the CSP 50, Bellis, the senior quarterback found his big tight-end Karson Sindoni to extend their opening drive.
The Tioga defense smothered the CSP offense for much of the game. Tate Catanese had his hands full with the Tigers pass rush. The junior quarterback was forced out of the pocket often, completing 14-of-31 passes for 87 yards and a pick.
Sindoni snuffed out a swing pass for Bryce Hinsdale on CSP's third possession. Sindoni read the play as if he’d seen it on film a hundred times, jumping in front of the pass and returning it to the house 46-yards. That gave Tioga a 21-0 win and the rout was on.
CSP, for the first time in years, found themselves in a hole they just couldn’t climb out of.
“I’m super proud of these guys. This loss does not diminish any of their accomplishments from this year. We just ran into a tremendous team. Their QB is very good, just really good complimentary players, two great running backs. It just wasn’t our day,” Harper said.
CSP had some luck moving the ball late in the first half, Hinsdale and Alex Barmore made nice grabs to get themselves deep into Tioga territory, but time would run out.
The Tigers led at the half 28-0.
Tioga received the second half kickoff and their offense picked up where they left off. After a couple of nice runs, Tioga dialed up a pass play and caught CSP in blown coverage. Bellis delivered a strike to a wide open Evan Sickler for the 39-yard score.
The Tigers defense came up big again, forcing the CSP offense to punt on their ensuing drive. The Wolfpack sideline thought a Tioga player ran into their kicker, Hinsdale. Instead, they were flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct and Tioga had 15 extra yards tacked on to their next drive start. Hinsdale was shaken up on the play but returned.
Duncanson scored a 63-yard rushing touchdown for the Tigers a play later.
That’s just how it went for CSP Friday.
To the Wolfpack players’ credit, they refused to quit. Over a dozen seniors continued to play their guts out. Catanese eventually led CSP on a touchdown drive in the fourth quarter, capping off a drive with a short touchdown run. The Wolfpack went for the two-point conversion and were successful.
It was too little too late for CSP though. Who would end up with another rushing touchdown by senior Tony Cipolla and another two-point conversion.
Lamb’s touchdown would round out the scoring.
“The toughest part of losing the last game of the season is saying goodbye to the seniors. They’ve given so much of their time and worked so hard these last few years. They will be missed,” Harper said.
CSP finishes with an 11-1 overall record while Tioga (13-0) will move onto play in the state championship game against Stillwater of Section II.
Pictures by Alex Kolstee