BATAVIA — Flying under the radar all season long, the York/Pavilion football team is red hot and the Golden Knights proved on Saturday afternoon that they are a force to be reckoned with in the Section V Class D tournament.
Colby Tillotson, Nate Swede and Sebastian Hackett all rushed for touchdowns, while the No. 6 York/Pavilion defense stymied No. 3 Notre Dame all day as it pulled away for a convincing 18-0 victory in the quarterfinal round.
The Golden Knights have now won four games in a row for head coach Kurt Schneider to move to 5-3 and they will now get a chance to avenge a loss to Canisteo-Greenwood in Week 4, the last time Y/P was on the losing end.
Notre Dame finished its impressive turnaround season at 4-3. But Saturday was all about the Y/P defense.
The Golden Knights held the Fighting Irish to just 99 total yards, including just three after halftime, forced four turnovers and kept the Notre Dame running game in check as it finished with just 63 yards on 26 carries.
“It was definitely a game to me that we should’ve won but with that being said I was very proud of our team,” Notre Dame head coach Joe Zambito said.
Notre Dame’s defense did its job holding Y/P in check for most of the first half before the dynamic Hackett gave the Golden Knights the lead for good late in the second quarter.
On a second and 10, Hackett took the ball up the middle, broke two tackles and sprinted by the Fighting Irish defense for a 62-yard touchdown run that gave Y/P a 6-0 lead with 3:44 left in the first half after the conversion run failed.
And despite a tough go at it offensively, that run proved to be more than the Golden Knights would need.
Other than Hackett’s TD run, ND held them to just 11 total yards in the first half but consistently shot itself in the foot offensively with penalties.
The Fighting Irish had two drives in the opening half that went for at least 10 yards but they weren’t able to capitalize, as one ended on a turnover on downs and the other with a punt.
Early in the fourth quarter, Y/P started to assert its will and began to take control.
The Golden Knights held Notre Dame to punts on its first two possessions of the second half, the second of which was a poor kick from the reliable Andrew Moore that went just 20 yards to the ND 25 with the Fighting Irish pinned deep in their own zone.
In four plays, all runs by Swede, the Golden Knights grabbed a 12-0 lead when the senior captain busted through for a two-yard score with 10:23 left in the game.
However, it looked as though Notre Dame wasn’t through yet.
Jed Reese took the ensuing kickoff all the way to the Y/P 27 yard-line and the Fighting Irish were set up to get back into it. But after a pair of Gabe Macdonald runs had Notre Dame at first-and-goal from the six, freshmen quarterback Colin McCulley mishandled the snap and the Golden Knights pounced on the fumble to all but seal the deal.
“They got all the breaks and we couldn’t make a play when we needed to,” Zambito said.
The Fighting Irish would fumble on their next possession in the pouring rain and Tillotson capped a six-play, 33-yard drive with a six-yard touchdown on a sweep around the right end to put the proverbial nail in the coffin.
Hackett finished the day with 89 yards on the ground on eight carries and Swede finished with 65 tough yards on 23 totes.
Y/P quarterback Matt McFarland only threw the ball three times, completing two of those for 31 yards — Swede with one reception for 17 yards and Josh Davis with the other one for 14.
Notre Dame actually held the Golden Knights to just 200 total yards, including 169 rushing yards on 41 carries.
Macdonald played his heart out on both sides of the ball as he finished with 48 rushing yards, while he led the Fighting Irish in tackles on the defensive end.
Y/P’s defense was led by several outstanding efforts including Keith Muckle with nine stops and Riley Elliot’s eight tackles, one sack and a fumble recovery.
Tillotson added seven tackles including two sacks while Riley Stella contributed six tackles, including two for a loss. Hackett added five tackles and one interception while James Kennedy and Ethan Doran each had four tackles with Kennedy adding a fumble recovery.
Y/P will now meet No. 2 Canisteo in the semis Saturday at Cal-Mum at 7 p.m..
“This was obviously a huge win for our players and the program,” Y/P head coach Kurt Schneider said. “I am thrilled for our guys, and the communities of Pavilion and York. This is great group of young men and they really make it fun coming to practice everyday. We talked after the game and right now we just want to keep this experience rolling. I am so proud of this team and the way they have been resilient all year long. We didn’t get off to the start that we would have liked, going 1-3 to start the season, but we talked as a family, about the changes we needed to make to achieve our goals, and to their credit this team has responded. While we are happy with today’s result, and much respect to ND, they were a well coached quality team, we know that our journey is not over. The challenge that lies in front of us is formidable, we have nothing but respect for Alexander, Perry/MM and Canisteo-Greenwood. So we will go back to the grind on Monday and continue to prepare for this Saturday.”
The “fork” ratings are based primarily on food quality and preparation, with service and atmosphere factored into the final decision. Reviews are based on one unsolicited, unannounced visit to the restaurant.