VESTAL – Perhaps the only drawback of the Christian Brothers Academy football team earning the Section III Class AA championship was that few were paying attention to their accomplishment.
Without question, the Brothers’ 34-7 romp over five-time defending champion Cicero-North Syracuse in the Nov. 12 title game at the JMA Dome was overshadowed by the drama surrounding the Northstars, from quarterback Jaxon Razmovski’s suspension to head coach Dave Kline’s resignation, all before it kicked off.
None of that was present on Saturday night, though, and CBA now has its place in the spotlight, a step closer to a third state title in program history after defeating Section IV’s Elmira 49-20 in Saturday night’s regional final at Vestal High School.
Combining a power running game with timely big plays, the Brothers earned a spot in this Saturday’s state semifinal at Bragman Stadium against defending state champion Buffalo Bennett.
Taking the opening kickoff at its own 15-yard line, CBA went 85 yards in less than two minutes, Jamier Handford going the final two yards for the score.
Elmira countered with a strong drive of its own, Amir Williams scoring on a one-yard plunge. But the Express was unable to get a go-ahead two-point conversion, as close as it would get all night.
Early in the second period, CBA initiated a decisive 21-point outburst with another long drive and a second Handford touchdown from one yard out.
Then the big plays started to happen, on both sides of the ball. Right after a key fourth-down stop by the Brothers’ defense, Porter Matt found Darien Williams on a 33-yard TD pass with 5:39 left in the half.
Less than three minutes later, Syair Torrence picked off an Elmira screen pass and returned it 50 yards for six more points. And while the Express closed the gap to 28-14 by halftime, CBA quickly snuffed out any hopes for a comeback in the third quarter.
Barely three minutes into the half, Matt went deep and found Williams, the TD pass covering 80 yards Matt’s third TD pass, to Daunte Baucheyie, made it 42-14 going to the fourth quarter, with backup Brayden Smith finding Jason Brunson with 3:20 to play for CBA’s seventh touchdown of the night.
Matt went 11-for-19 for 286 yards and three scores, with Williams racking up 117 yards on just three catches. Handford added 108 yards on the ground as Torrence had 10 tackles to go with his interception return and Amir Butler got 11 tackles. Brunson and Andrew Cooney had seven tackles apiece.
The Far West regional final had Bennett defeat Rochester McQuaid 26-21 scoring a touchdown on the final play of the game, meaning that the Tigers will face CBA with the winner to get Albany CBA or Carmel in the Dec. 3 state final at the JMA Dome.