Blocho's big night can't save Grand Island
News Sports Reporter

PITTSFORD - At the end of the Grand Island sideline sits a blue podium with a Vikings football helmet on top of it. Grand Island coach Dean Santorio puts it there to remind his players of all the Vikings who have gone before them.

Santorio surely will tell them about Mike Blocho. The 5-foot-8, 170-pound senior ran for 255 yards and two touchdowns on 32 carries in a valiant effort as the Vikings, playing most of the game without starting quarterback and defensive back Chris Sica, lost a 31-28 thriller to Victor in the Class A Far West Regionals on Saturday night at St. John Fisher College's Growney Stadium.

The Vikings (9-2) slugged it out with Victor (11-0), particularly in a back-and-forth fourth quarter, but the top-ranked Class A team in the state was too much for Grand Island. Victor moved the ball well behind junior quarterback Alex Relph, the younger brother of last year's Mr. Basketball, McQuaid's Tyler Relph. Relph threw two touchdowns during a 9-for-20, 240-yard evening.

"We were able to bang and bang both offensively and defensively," said Santorio. "Anytime you have to sit a senior starter who has been a starting corner for three years it's going to hurt your football team. Defensively, we gave ourselves a shot to win at the end."

Vikings senior Jeff Bull, who wore his shoulder pads like a running back and linebacker - because those are the positions he normally plays - took over at quarterback and stepped up with several standout plays. He completed three of nine passes for 29 yards and ran seven times for 50 yards. He made a tough completion on his first series on an off-balance screen pass to his left, and had key keeper runs in the second half. The most important came on a scoring drive that brought GI within 31-28. Bull ran just like his last name on a first-down run to put the Vikings inside the Victor 25, and then scored on a strong, 11-yard keeper to the left side with 3:30 to play.

Victor was able to gain a first down to use much of the clock, and Grand Island's last possession was a first-and-10 at its 32 with 30 seconds left. A hook-and-lateral to the ferociously hard-running Blocho - named the game's Most Valuable Offensive Player - moved the Vikings to the 42, but facing a fourth-and-1 with 5.9 seconds left, Bull's last pass went incomplete.

Victor moves on to the state semifinals at 6 p.m. Saturday at the University of Rochester's Fauver Stadium.

The slugfest fourth quarter began with Relph hitting Peter Obourn 12 seconds in for a 73-yard score, and Blocho responded with a 58-yard TD run 46 seconds later. But a 69-yard pass play from Relph to Obourn started Victor's next possession and helped set up a 5-yard TD run by Kyle Sullivan for a 24-21 Victor lead with 10:05 left.

A Blocho fumble at the Grand Island 11 gave Victor a short field, and the Blue Devils made short work of it. On third-and-goal at the 1, Andrew Jarosz burrowed in for the score and a 31-21 Victor lead with 7:57 left.

Sica went down early in the second quarter after jumping to break up a Victor pass in the end zone. The Vikings took a 7-0 lead on Sica's 7-yard TD pass to Mike Feathers in the first quarter. GI took a 14-10 halftime lead after Blocho ran through a nice hole to the right for a 21-yard score.