Groton denies Notre Dame's bid to clinch

Groton denies Notre Dame's bid to clinch

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Groton denies Notre Dame's bid to clinch

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The Notre Dame Crusaders took on the Groton Indians Friday night on the Crusader's field.

The Notre Dame Crusaders took on the Groton Indians Friday night on the Crusader’s field.

Groton's Matt Gombas runs through a squad of Notre Dame Crusaders.

Groton’s Matt Gombas runs through a squad of Notre Dame Crusaders.

Notre Dame's Tyler Jones weaves through Groton palyers Friday night on the Crusader's field.

Notre Dame’s Tyler Jones weaves through Groton palyers Friday night on the Crusader’s field.

Groton's Matt Gombas weaves through Notre Dame players.

Groton’s Matt Gombas weaves through Notre Dame players.

A Notre Dame Crusader fights through Groton players Friday.

A Notre Dame Crusader fights through Groton players Friday.

SOUTHPORT — Four touchdowns from junior running back Matt Gombas and a dominant defensive effort in the second half helped carry Groton to a 35-14 victory over Elmira Notre Dame on Friday night, denying the Crusaders’ bid to wrap up the Section 4 Football Conference, Division VIII title.

Crusader Derrick Stark targets the end zone while fighting through Groton Indian players Friday.

Crusader Derrick Stark targets the end zone while fighting through Groton Indian players Friday.

Gombas finished with 128 yards and three touchdowns on 21 carries. He also caught a 57-yard touchdown on a screen play that helped give the Indians the lead for good, 15-14, early in the second quarter.

Groton (4-2 overall) completed the Division VIII portion of its schedule at 3-1. Notre Dame (4-2) dropped to 2-1 in the division, with a game remaining next Saturday at Newfield. Moravia is also 2-1 with a division game left against Spencer-Van Etten.

The division champion would be decided on a tiebreaker if all three teams finish at 3-1. Groton’s only division loss came to Moravia, which lost to Notre Dame. The top two teams in each of the Class D divisions in Section 4 qualify for the quarterfinals, with two others advancing as wild cards.

Derrick Stark scored both Crusaders touchdowns, the first on a 2-yard run that gave them an 8-7 lead in the first quarter, with Iman McKay adding a two-point run. Stark’s 5-yard scoring run put Notre Dame up 14-7 less than a minute into the second quarter.

With the Indians facing third-and-20 at their own 43-yard line, Gombas took a screen pass from quarterback Daimon Shoemaker and broke through some potential tacklers to go the distance. Dylan Cooper ran in the conversion try for a one-point lead just over two minutes after Stark’s touchdown.

Stark finished with 72 yards on 19 carries and Tim Davis added 86 yards on 19 attempts along with three catches for 48 yards. But the Groton defense took its game to another level in the second half, recovering two fumbles and holding Notre Dame without a first down on three of its first four possessions.

Gombas, who opened the scoring with a 23-yard touchdown run, gave Groton a 21-14 lead less than four minutes into the second half on a 5-yard dash.

Notre Dame’s defense rose up for a goal-line stand after a quarterback sack by Michael Perkins gave the Indians the ball at the Crusaders’ 11-yard line on a fumble recovery. Notre Dame quarterback Gary Raupers was hurt on the play and did not return. The Crusaders also lost key offensive lineman/linebacker Ty Kunzman to an injury.

After the stop on defense at its own 2, Notre Dame’s offense followed with its best drive of the second half, still trailing by just seven. But No. 2 quarterback Tyler Jones was sacked on third-and-long, leading to another Groton fumble recovery.

A 32-yard pass from Shoemaker to Ferris helped set up a 12-yard touchdown run from Gombas, whose two-point run increased the lead to 29-14 with 5:40 left.

After Notre Dame turned the ball over on downs at its own 15, Cooper ran in for the Indians’ final touchdown on the next play.

On Twitter: @SGAndrewLegare

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