Tioga rolls over SVE
BINGHAMTON, N.Y. - There's dominance and then there's DOMINANCE.
Jesse Manuel and Brad Jump ran for two scores apiece, Ryan Vergason threw a pair of long TD passes and Carter Jackson tacked on a fumble return for a TD as Tioga reeled off 47 unanswered points in the first half, including 21 points in 44 seconds, en route to a 54-0 domination of S-VE in the Section IV, Class D semifinals.
With the win, the Tigers, now 9-0 and ranked second in New York State, advance to their third consecutive Class D championship game next Saturday where they'll take on Unatego (8-1), a 20-12 winner over Notre Dame.
The Tigers piled up 364 yards and 12 first downs in total offense in the first half, compared to 17 yards and no first downs for the Panthers.
Tioga coach Nick Aiello said his Tigers are playing like there's no tomorrow.
"The kids were ready, having that extra day to prepare" he said. "I thought the kids were real focused all week.
"They are in playoff mode," said Aiello. "They have a lot of playoff experience and know what it takes.
"I think that's what you saw in the first half today," added Aiello.
In all, Tioga amassed a season-high 615 yards in total offense, while limiting S-VE to just 73 yards.
Manuel led the Tigers' ground game with 196 yards and two TDs on 15 carries, while Brad Jump added 107 yards and two TDs on just eight carries.
Vergason completed 6 of 9 passes for a career-high 196 yards and two TDs. Justin Fiske led the Tigers with three catches for 93 yards and a TD.
Aiello said the balanced offense was what he's envisioned for the Tigers.
"That's what we're looking to do," he said. "We have weapons.
"The passing game is something we're working on. It's been a process all season, right down to the protection," said Aiello.
"We're not known for our passing, I think (Ryan) Vergason threw 19 passes all last year," added Aiello. "It was definitely nice to see the success today and get the work in."
Jump scored on a 59-yard run midway through the first quarter to give Tioga a 7-0 lead.
Two plays after intercepting a pass, Manuel broke free on a 60-yard TD run to up the Tigers' lead. Tanner Folk's second PAT kick of the day made it 14-0 with 4:09 left in the first quarter.
Three plays after the ensuing kickoff, Mike Melella delivered a crushing hit to force a fumble, which Jackson hauled in before it hit the ground and rumbled 48 yards for a score to make it 21-0 with 3:38 left in the first quarter.
The Tigers executed a nearly-perfect onsides kick and Noah Schumacher pounced on the loose ball at the S-VE 49.
On Tioga's first play, Vergason connected with Chad Kithcart on a 49-yard scoring strike to make it 27-0 with 3:25 left in the first quarter.
Matt Jump ended S-VE's next possession with an interception - the third of seven Panther turnovers - at the Tioga 35.
Facing 2-and-19 following a penalty, Vergason connected with Justin Fiske, who made a leaping catch over a defender, on a 74-yard TD pass to make it 34-0 with 1:22 left in the first quarter.
"That was a real nice catch by Fiske," said Aiello.
The Tigers took over at midfield following S-VE's second of three punts in the first half and scored four plays later on a 30-yard run by Manuel off a nice option pitch from Vergason.
The Tigers final score of the first half was the result of a 10-play, 69-yard drive, capped by a 17-yard run by Brad Jump with 3:00 minutes remaining in the first half.
Tioga nearly added to its lead in the final minute of the half, but an apparent 81-yard TD run by Manuel was nullified by a holding call.
The Tigers opened the second half with an eight-play, 79-yard scoring drive, capped by a 1-yard QB sneak by Vergason. The drive also featured a 15-yard run by Vergason, as well as a 36-yard completion to Matt Jump, a 15-yard completion to Manuel and an 11-yard run by Jake Lewis.
"After the first drive of the second half, our second team took over," said Aiello. "Offensively, we moved the ball a little and picked up a few first downs.
"We saw some good things from them," he added.
Defensively, the Tigers second team allowed just 49 yards in offense and forced three turnovers, including interceptions by Lewis and Marcus Ulrich.
Tioga will take on Unatego Saturday at noon at Alumni Stadium.