- It was the much anticipated matchup Friday night at Sahlen's Stadium
in Rochester between No. 1 seed Le Roy and No. 3 seed Bath-Haverling
for the Section 5 Class C championship and less than two minutes into
the second quarter the Rams had the Oatkan Knights on the ropes and
likely had them thinking of what transpired each of the last two seasons.
But this is a different Le Roy team than in years past and when it
had to, the offense, defense and special teams all turned it up a
notch and the Oatkan Knights finally captured their elusive 15th sectional
title in program history.
Down by 10 points early in the second quarter, a Tom Kelso short touchdown
run started Le Roy on a run which saw it score 28 consecutive points,
many of which came in thanks to the right arm of quarterback Mike
McMullen, as the Oatkan Knights pulled away for a 34-24 victory in
the title game.
"I've said this before, but we can't judge our success even today,"
said Moran. "We're in high school athletics for a reason and
that's to judge our kids 15-20 years from now. And that's what I'm
going to look for. But the kids prepared and worked hard all week
and all season. And that's a credit to them. That's what we want to
teach in high school athletics, to be poised, to be disciplined, work
hard and good things will happen for you."
"It's finally done," added Ryan McQuillen. "We've been
here the past three years and it finally feels a lot better to be
on this side than on the other side."
The sectional championship was the 14th in the 26th and final season
of longtime head coach Brian Moran and the program's first since 2008
as Le Roy had fallen in the championship contest each of the last
"You get a lot of pressure in Le Roy when you haven't won since
2008," said Moran. "We've been very fortunate. We've been
in the finals each of the last three years and today I thought our
kids played well. They stayed focused against a very good Bath team."
Game MVP McMullen finished the night 12-of-26 for 257 yards and four
touchdowns - two of the long variety to speedster McQuillen - while
Tom Kelso pounded out 63 tough yards and the score on 19 carries,
while the Oatkan Knights defense finally was able to figure out the
double-wing, triple option offense of Bath.
"This just feels awesome, finally we won it," said McMullen.
"Number 15 feels great."
The Rams rushed the ball 46 times for just 182 yards and averaged
just 3.3 yards per rush outside of a 32-yard touchdown run by Connor
DiDomineck late in the first quarter; Bath managed just 52 yards rushing
in the second half on 16 carries against the stout Oatkan Knights
defense led by Nick Egeling, Kelso and company.
Nick Egeling and Kody Lamkin each registered 10 solo tackles for the
Knights while Brian Hodges (8). Tom Kelso (7). Tyler Prinz (7) and
Jake Henry (6) were also dominant for the LR defense. Le Roy outgained
Bath 333-224 on the night and forced three Rams turnovers as it remained
perfect at 10-0 heading into next weekend's Far West Regional.
Class C Offensive Player of the Year Bruce Rinker was held to just
40 yards on 12 carries, while quarterback Michael Rice had just 50
yards on 18 carries.
But after a quick Le Roy strike on its third possession of the first
quarter following a Bath turnover, the Rams appeared to have the Oatkan
Knights where they wanted them.
After McQuillen picked off Rice at the Le Roy 18-yard line midway
through the first quarter, it was a McMullen to McQuillen connection
for 82 yards on the very next play as McMullen found his favorite
wideout deep down the left side to put Le Roy up 6-0 after the kick
But the next seven minutes were all Bath.
The Rams took the ball at their own 41 on their next possession and
proceeded to march 59 yards on seven plays - all runs - in
3:03 and capped it with DiDomineck's long touchdown jaunt on a reverse/counter
play to take an 8-6 lead after a Rinker two-point rush.
The Oatkan Knights uncharacteristically turned the ball over on their
next possession in their own end and Bath was quickly on the move
again. This time it was just 32 yards on eight plays and the drive
was capped with a 1-yard Rinker run and Austin Vasseur two-point conversion
to shockingly go up 16-6; the Rams actually had a 20-yard Patrick
Brewer touchdown run called back on a hold.
"That's a big football team and you can never duplicate what
you are going to see in a game like this, especially with their size,"
said Moran. "So it took us a while to get focused and understand
where we needed to go."
But Le Roy didn't panic.
Bath would fumble on its next possession after it forced a Le Roy
punt and Dave Englerth recovered it at the Rams 35-yard line to set
the Oatkan Knights up. Following a 20-yard pass from McMullen to Egeling,
Kelso and Egeling took care of the other 15 yards on the ground and
cut the lead to 16-13 after a Kelso 4-yard run.
The Oatkan Knights forced a punt on Bath's next possession and the
1:57 left in the half was more than enough for them to take the lead
A 31-yard strike from McMullen to Jon Pierce on a third-and-long catapulted
a Le Roy drive that would end when McMullen found a wide open Jake
Henry on a slant for a touchdown with 36.7 seconds left in the half
to put Le Roy up 20-16 heading into the break.
"We started out a bit slow so coach brought me to the side, calmed
me down and after that we came out and played great," said McMullen.
Despite the lead, Le Roy managed just 18 yards rushing on 16 carries
in the first half against a big and physical Bath line.
Both offenses moved the ball in the third quarter but were unable
to capitalize before McQuillen struck again for Le Roy late in the
Following a Bath punt, McQuillen took a screen to the right on Le
Roy's first play from scrimmage and easily outraced the Rams defenders
for a 52-yard score to make it 28-16 after a Kelso conversion.
"I said it earlier in the week, you can't duplicate his speed
like we couldn't duplicate their size," said Moran.
McQuillen had just the two catches on the night but they went for
With its defense clicking, Le Roy would put the game away late in
McMullen capped a five-play, 40-yard drive following a Pierce interception
with a 13-yard pass to Henry on a fourth-and-4 to put the Oatkan Knights
up an insurmountable 34-16 with just under three minutes to play.
Bath would score on a desperation 30-yard touchdown pass from Rice
to Vasseur with just 11 seconds remaining for the final score.
Henry finished the night with four catches for 38 yards while Kelso
had three grabs for 28 yards.
"I've been very fortunate in Le Roy," said Moran. "In
1989 I was fortunate enough to win my first and today I was fortunate
to win my last and I guess you can't write it any better than that.
It's a credit to my coaching staff and all our kids. I just couldn't
be more proud."
"We wanted this, especially for Coach Moran," added McQuillen.
"It's a storybook ending for him."
Rinker had 5.5 tackles to lead the Bath defense as the Rams end their
Le Roy will face Section 6 Class C winner Maple Grove/Chautauqua Lake
-which routed Southwestern 37-7 in its final on Friday - in the Far
West Regionals at noon next Saturday at All-High Stadium in Buffalo.
"Let's go at it, next week, come on," said McMullen.