ENDICOTT, N.Y. — The Tioga Tigers wore Herkimer down and then out Friday and defeated the Magicians 43-13 for their third straight Class D regional championship.
The high-powered Tigers, undefeated and ranked second in the state, scored on the game’s opening drive but led only 8-0 at halftime and into the middle of the third quarter. The teams then traded touchdowns before Jesse Manuel ran for four scores in an eight-minute span for Tioga (11-0).
“They’re pretty big up front,” Herkimer coach Alan Steele said, “and I think it’s pretty obvious we got tired up front.”
Running behind that imposing line, Manuel, a 151-pound sophomore, and Brad Jump, a 167-pound junior, found plenty of room to hide and holes to run through. The pair combined run for 444 yards and six touchdowns.
Jump capped the game’s opening drive with a one-yard touchdown run. The Tigers ran almost seven minutes off the clock on the methodical 13-play, 80-yard drive. Manuel had runs of 19 and 18 yards but it was a seven-yard run by Carter Jackson, a 287-pound lineman who does Tioga’s punting, that was the key to the drive. Facing fourth-and-one from their own 49-yard line, the Tigers sent the punt team onto the field. Jackson took the snap and ran to the right side for the first down and into Herkimer territory.
A Herkimer fumble put Tioga’s offense back on the field on the Magicians’ side of the center stripe but the Tigers would turn the ball over on downs. Each team was intercepted on its next possession with Matt Jump thwarting Herkimer’s first successful drive by picking off an Austin Mills pass at the Tioga 12.
A muffed punt was Herkimer’s third turnover before halftime but Tioga committed two penalties and was unable to capitalize in the final minute of the second quarter.
Tioga fumbled the ball away inside Herkimer’s 10-yard line early in the second half but got the ball back at the Magicians’ 34 an quickly drove for a touchdown. Brad Jump carried the ball on three of the four plays and scored on a six-yard run.
Herkimer’s answer was almost immediate. Drew Masi covered a short kickoff at the Magicians’ 47 and Mills threw a 53-yard touchdown pass to Zach Steele on the next play. Flushed out of the pocket by Tioga’s line, Mills rolled to his left as Steele came open crossing the field and delivered a long scoring pass to put the Magicians on the board. Dylan Babcock stopped Mills short of the goal line on the conversion try and the Tigers kept a 15-6 lead.
Manuel ran seven yards for the first of his touchdowns with 1:22 left in the fourth quarter. The teams traded fumbles on the first two plays of the fourth quarter and Manuel ran 28 yards for another touchdown on the third. The Tigers then recovered an onsides kick and added a two-yard Manuel touchdown run five plays later. Tanner Folk’s kick put Tioga up 36-6 and gave the Tigers 21 points in a span of just over four minutes.
Page 2 of 2 - Manuel intercepted a pass to get the ball back and ended the ensuing drive with a 10-yard run for the final Tioga touchdown.
Herkimer put another score on the board in the final minute. Mills ran three yards for his 24th touchdowns of the season.
Tioga meets Section V Randolph in semifinal play in Rochester Friday. Randolph, the reigning state champion, defeated Section VI Red Jacket 49-0 in its regional.
Moriah of Section VII also advanced to the Final Four Friday with a 34 32 win over Section II Cambridge. Moriah’s semifinal opponent will be the winner of Saturday’s game between Section I Tuckahoe and Section IX Chester.
TIOGA 43, HERKIMER 13
Herkimer 0 0 6 7 — 13
Tioga 8 0 14 21 — 43
TIOGA — Brad Jump 1 run (Jesse Manuel run), 5:10.
TIOGA — B.Jump 6 run (Tanner Folk kick), 4:40.
HERK — Zach Steele 53 pass from Austin Mills (run failed), 4:24.
TIOGA — Manuel 7 run (Folk kick), 1:22.
TIOGA — Manuel 28 run (Folk kick), 11:38.
TIOGA — Manuel 2 run (Folk kick), 9:15.
TIOGA — Manuel 10 run (Folk kick), 5:31.
HERK — Mills 3 run (Matt Borek kick), :34.8.
Records — Herkimer 9-2; Tioga 11-0.