Moriah tops Haldane to advance to final four

Moriah's Rowan Swan (1) with a group of teammates celebrates a 22-0 victory over Haldane in a NYSPHSAA Class D football regional on Friday in Clintonville. (Joey LaFranca/Staff Photo)

CLINTONVILLE — Moriah was a rude host to Haldane on Friday, and for the Vikings, they had no problem being unwelcoming to the Blue Devils.

Led by a strong ground game and solid defense, Moriah (9-0) rolled past Section I's Haldane (5-4) for a 22-0 win in a NYSPHSAA Class D football regional.

Rowan Swan helped lead the Vikings with two touchdowns, and Caleb Harris added a score in the Vikings' latest victory.

Moriah advanced to play Section II's Greenwich (11-0) in a semifinal at 3 p.m. Nov. 26, at Middletown High School with a trip to the Carrier Dome and the Class D championship on the line.

"It's everything to make it this far, but the final four and the Dome are just another game," Swan said. "We are going to compete to win the states, but other than that, it's just another game. We have a great group of guys that show up to work, and it's really awesome."

Both teams struggled to find a groove early on, but the Vikings' defense provided a spark.

Moriah forced a fumble on the Blue Devils' first play of the second quarter, which Swan recovered and helped eventually turn into six points.

Harris darted into the end zone to put the Vikings on the board with 7:41 left in the first half, and Riley Demarais punched in the two-point conversion.

That helped cover up some of the early errors Moriah plagued itself with.

"We made a lot of mistakes and shut ourselves out early," Vikings coach Don Tesar said.

"Once we stopped making mistakes on drives, we scored. We should have scored on the opening drive, but a couple penalties hurt that. We had a couple other big plays we had penalties on, so we have to cut down on all those penalties."

Moriah did, however, put one more touchdown on the board when Swan dropped back to pass before turning on the jets and going 50 yards to pay dirt with 32.1 seconds left before halftime.

Demarais connected with Bryce Sprague for the two-point conversion to send the Vikings into halftime with a 16-0 advantage.

With the defense clicking and the offense generating momentum, Moriah was confident.

"Our defense was great tonight," Swan said. "It's always great having Caleb back, too, who has been battling injuries. He sets the tone out there. I think we played good. He is one of the biggest captains on our team. It's great to have him back, and he sets the tone."

On Haldane's opening second-half drive, Harris picked off Blue Devil quarterback Ryan Van Tassel, and two plays later, the Vikings extended their lead.

Swan scored again thanks to a 26-yard stroll to the end zone and upped Moriah's advantage to 22-0 with 2:36 to go in the third quarter.

The Vikings shut the door after that, highlighted by Swan's second interception of the game on Haldane's ensuing drive.

"The defense played outstanding," Tesar said. "They took away the run. Rushing wise, they probably did not hurt us, and I was worried about it at first with the spread because they can run the counter and the jet off that.

"(Ryan Irwin) had a lot of speed, and but he was pretty much the offense they had today. Other than that, we took pretty much everything away."

Moriah limited the Blue Devils to 65 yards of total offense.

Irwin led Haldane with 27 rushing yards and four catches for 11 yards.

Meanwhile, the Vikings piled up 282 yards on the ground.

Swan totaled a game-high 126 yards, and Dakota Wright and Demarais both finished with 70 apiece.

Now, Moriah hopes to clean up a few things and be ready for a tough matchup with the undefeated Witches.

"You build from every win you have," Tesar said.

"The kids are a little excited about next week and playing Greenwich down there. We know they are a very good team and have a big back, and their quarterback is very elusive. We just have to contain everybody."

Moriah 22, Haldane 0

HAL 0 0 0 0 — 0

MCS 0 16 6 0 — 22

Second Quarter

MCS- Harris 3 run (Demarais run), 7:41.

MCS- Swan 50 run (Sprague pass from Demarais), 32.1.

Third Quarter

MCS- Swan 26 run (pass fails), 2:36.

Individual statistics

Rushing

HAL- Irwin 3-27; Giachinta 9-14; Van Tassel 1-6; Carone 3-2; Holmbo 1-(-7). Totals: 17-42.

MCS- Swan 12-126, 2TD; Wright 9-70; Demarais 15-70; Valentine 5-13; Harris 1-3, TD. Totals: 42-282, 3TD.

Passing

HAL- Van Tassel 7-15-2-23; Irwin 0-1-1-0. Totals: 7-16-3-23.

MCS- Swan 1-12-1-10.

Receiving

HAL- Irwin 4-11; Tucker 1-7; Giachinta 1-(4); Holmbo 1-(-7).

MCS- Demarais 1-10.

Interceptions

HAL- Holmbo.

MCS- Swan 2; Harris.

Email Joey LaFranca:

jlafranca@pressrepublican.com

Twitter: @JoeyLaFranca

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