The scoreboard reading’s lopsidedness mirrored that of play on the line, specifically Tioga Central’s offensive front versus Dolgeville’s defensive front.
The Tigers advanced to a Class D state football semifinal for the sixth time in seven years with Friday night’s 46-16 toss-aside of unbeaten, third-ranked Dolgeville at Union-Endicott’s Ty Cobb Stadium.
Most Valuable Player Trey Floyd — sleeveless despite digit-numbing, skin-stinging conditions — gained 104 of the winners’ 315 rushing yards and scored five touchdowns, and the Tigers (9-1) turned Dolgeville over six times. Tioga intercepted three passes in a span of 3:12 bridging the halves.
Ahead for Section 4’s champions will be a semifinal against Maple Grove (10-1), 61-28 winner against top-ranked Clyde-Savannah, 4 p.m. Friday back at U-E. Maple Grove was 2016 state runner-up.
“The O-line was just doing a great job opening up holes. (Dolgeville) showed some different fronts and they adjusted well,” said Floyd, a 200-pound senior. “We had a really great week of practice and coach gave us a great game plan. We executed all week and it paid off.”
Oh, those visitors — very much as ground-oriented as the Tigers — spent halftime devising a way to build on a 37-yard offensive total.
“I think our defense has played very well against the run all year long, but I knew this was going to be a big test and they really stepped up.,” said Tigers coach Nick Aiello. “(Fullback Nic Bailey) was a horse. I thought we did a much better job against him than I expected. Watching film on that kid, he was truckin’ people. I think our defensive-line play is what slowed the backs up so our linebackers could make the tackles.”
Tioga went ahead 3:27 in when Connor Hutchinson hit Floyd open in the right side of the end zone for a 13-yarder on fourth-and-5, a play after Hutchinson rushed for 7 yards. The first of Dolgeville’s turnovers — caused by a whack from linebacker Floyd — came late in the opening quarter and set in motion a sequence that exposed the chasm between these two squads, the Blue Devils’ No. 3 state ranking and Tioga’s No. 6 notwithstanding.
Tioga took possession at its 37-yard line after the recovery and powered the distance in five plays, three of them double-digit gainers. Floyd scooted 6 yards unmolested over the right side for the score and 14-0 advantage with 77 seconds to play in the first quarter.
The Tigers’ Owen Wanck recovered a fumble three plays later, Tioga got a 48-yard Connor Hutchinson-to-Nick Klossner pass, and Floyd carried in from the 1 for a three-TD bulge two plays into the second.
Next came a punt and a 10-play Tigers scoring drive finished by Hutchinson pitch-faking himself into freedom to complete a 16-yard score. Tioga’s John Worthing recovered a fumble on the ensuing kickoff and eight plays later Floyd rushed in from the 6 to make it a 33-0 difference 1:49 before halftime.
Dolgeville’s next three possessions numbered nine plays and concluded with interceptions by Klossner, Worthing and DeMario Chambers, respectively.
Hutchinson completed four of seven passes for 97 yards, and his four rushes went for 39 yards.
“It was a tough week of preparation because the two films we had on them were against spread teams, so we weren’t really sure what kind of defense they were going to be in,” Aiello said. “Turned out, they loaded the box quite a bit on us. We went to the play-action pass early on for our first touchdown and then hit Klossner deep down the middle.
Pressconnects sports writers Kevin Stevens and Rob Centorani talk about Section 4’s teams that have advanced to the state football playoffs. Patrick Oehler/Staff Video
“We were trying to stretch them vertically, but then it was really just hunker down with a couple plays we thought were working and some points of attack that we wanted to focus on.”
The Blue Devils’ first-unit backfield made plenty of fourth-quarter hay, accounting for 164 of the team’s 193 rushing yards for the game over those closing 12 minutes.
Dolgeville, which last weekend won a Section 3-record 17th championship, fell short of the program’s first state semifinal berth in 15 years. The Blue Devils were ousted in a 2008 quarterfinal by Walton and a 2014 quarter by Tioga— the latter by 46-22.
And on they advance, these Tigers, who’ve not lost a football game since Sept. 1 and a three-point setback against top-ranked Class C champion Newark Valley.
“As a senior, my last year, every game that we get to play is just awesome.,” Floyd said.