Todd Abraham and co. led Proctor to a fourth-quarter comeback and an OT win to propel the Raiders into the Class AA semifinals and a rematch with CBA. West Canada Valley and Dolgeville also stormed into the next round.
Section 3 football quarterfinals: Saturday’s top players, top performers
Todd Abraham, Proctor: Senior QB drastically increased his game in the fourth quarter and overtime, including the game-winning smash against Jerquell Henderson. He finished with 106 yards passing on 8-15 passing and two TDs. He also ran for 132 yards in the Raiders’ 20-14 win over Liverpool in the AA Quarterfinals.
Jerquell Henderson, Proctor: Senior WR caught a seven yard TD from Abraham in OT. He corralled three passes for 33 yards and also played the entire game on defense.
Joe DePaul, Proctor: Senior went up with two big touchdowns. He caught a 42-yarder for Proctor’s first TD of the game in the second quarter. In the final period, DePaul Abraham stole the ball when he finished in third place and sprinted 16 yards for a touchdown.
Joe Gentile, Proctor: Senior forced two fumbles in the fourth quarter to help Proctor comeback against Liverpool. His first came when the Warriors were driving and the Raiders were six behind. His second stopped a Liverpool game win in a tie.
Carter Highers, Morrisville-Eaton: Sophomore RB led the Warriors with 88 yards rushing and two TDs. He also recorded six tackles and an interception in the team’s 30-14 win over Cooperstown in the 8-man quarterfinals.
More:Section 3 football results for 2022 season
Top players of Section 3, Friday games: Whitesboro and New Hartford advance to the semifinals
Section 3 football quarterfinals: top games on Saturday
No. 4 Proctor 20, No. 5 Liverpool 14
Todd Abraham felt a nudge as he lunged forward in third after Liverpool appeared to have tackled the Proctor QB just before the line to win.
“I can feel someone’s ball, and I hear Joe DePaul say, ‘Give it to me,'” Abraham said. “So I gave it to him.”
DePaul escaped the crowd and entered the end zone to tie the game.
Fourth-seeded Proctor defeated fifth-seeded Liverpool 20-14 in overtime at Utica at the D’Alessandro Stadium on Saturday to reach the Class AA semi-finals. The Raiders meet the top-flight Christian Brothers Academy, who beat Proctor 44-6 in the first week.
Proctor tried to check the clock early. The Raiders ran three long drives, but only one ended in points when Abraham fired a 42-yard TD at DePaul, waking up the late-afternoon Utica crowd.
Penalties and sacks killed the other two drives. Proctor’s D held Liverpool to a shutout in the shortest time they had the ball.
As in many Proctor games, the defense began to struggle in the second half. Liverpool reduced the score to two on their first possession with a 43-yard TD from QB John Sindoni to Shawmeer Bradwell.
Strife attributed the slip-ups to a worn and decimated defense that saw numerous normal starters, such as Oliver Rodgers and Leon Checo, miss out through injury. This forced offensive stars like running backs Magic Johnson and Domonte Cook to play at both sides, as did Abraham.
Liverpool took the lead late in the third period with a 17-yard pass to Jah’Deuir Reese.
Midway through the fourth quarter, with the Warriors at six and within the Raiders 30, Proctor’s chances of winning seemed less likely than warm January weather, but at that moment Joe Gentile held his own.
The senior forced a left fumble and Proctor recovered.
A few players later, DePaul escaped the stack for six.
“He’s an unsung hero,” Strife said of DePaul. “He’s an absolute monster. He blocks his cock every game. All of our boys are selfless and got what they deserved.”
On the next L’pool drive, Gentile hit again with his second forced fumble. The Raiders recovered.
Fourth place for Proctor approached within the Liverpool 10 by seven seconds.
Strife opted to send Abraham out for a short field goal, something he hadn’t attempted all season. The senior QB admitted the team hadn’t practiced that scenario and when the clock ran out Liverpool blocked the kick.
Strife said he had no regrets making the call.
“Todd is a good kicker. We probably should have practiced it more since we were in a bit of a rush, but if you saw it from the back it would have been good,” Strife said.
Strife, along with Abraham and Jerquell Henderson all said they weren’t nervous about going to the OT.
“The coaching staff don’t get nervous and that’s a reflection for the kids,” Strife said. “Byron Abraham played Division I football and I played high-level baseball.”
Contrary to Strife’s preference, the Raiders went on offense first after Liverpool won the coin toss. Abraham found Henderson for a seven-yard TD to put the Warriors on the defensive.
“We have great chemistry and it’s like a brotherhood,” Henderson said. “We never get mad at each other and we don’t make mistakes. We always pick each other up.”
In fourth place, Vito Arcuri took advantage of Liverpool’s offensive line confusion. He pressured Sindoni and forced a throwaway, securing the win.
The Raiders stormed back from a deficit to win for the second time this season, and Strife said the spirit is in the players’ DNA.
“Our kids come from a town where we need to recover and that’s who they are,” he said. “People doubt them a lot and they’re used to hitting back.”