N  I  A  G  A  R  A      G  A  Z  E  T  T  E    November 2, 2008  http://www.niagara-gazette.com


CRUNCH: Murie, Chiefs end Vikes’ run

By Nate Beutel

ELMA — Alex Neutz may be the Player of the Year, but Saturday night was Brandon Murie’s time to shine.

The Iroquois senior running back ran for two touchdowns, caught a touchdown pass and returned a kickoff for a touchdown as the Chiefs topped visiting Grand Island 26-23 in Section VI Class A semifinal action at Latimer Field. Iroquois (8-1 overall) will play Sweet Home, 46-0 winners over West Seneca East in the other semifinal, for the championship at 6 p.m. next Saturday at Ralph Wilson Stadium.

“Our big guys made two or three big plays and their big guys made four,” GI coach Dean Santorio said. “We did a bad job tackling against him and he’s a really good player that made us pay.”

Murie got off to a quick start, scoring on only his fourth carry of the night. He broke through four tackles to find the end zone from 38 yards out. That score gave Iroquois a 7-3 lead after Grand Island’s Joel Klock kicked a 24-yard field goal to open the scoring.

Neutz made his name heard for the first time all night in the passing game with just over two minutes left in the second quarter. GI quarterback Joe Oliverio hit Neutz on a 10-yard hitch route, which the standout receiver turned into a 75-yard touchdown pass.

But on the Chiefs’ ensuing possession, Murie ran free on a fly route and quarterback Aaron Huber delivered a perfect pass from 40 yards out to give Iroquois a 14-10 lead at the half.

Things went from bad to worse for GI (7-2) as the second half kicked off because Murie corralled the ball and shot up the middle 90 yards to paydirt. But in typical Viking fashion, GI would respond.

After the teams traded a couple of punts, the Vikings went on a 15-play drive that ended with Oliverio connecting with Neutz on a 10-yard fade pass in the corner of the end zone. The extra point failed, leaving GI down by four.

That deficit turned into a lead on the Vikings’ next possession when Klock, the back-up quarterback, hit Lance Robinson for a 38-yard touchdown strike. Klock, who put in the point after to put GI up 23-20 with 9:50 remaining, was in the game because Oliverio sprained his ankle earlier in the drive.

“Really at that point, after the two touchdowns, I thought we would pull it out,” Santorio said.

But just as he had done all game long, Murie took his game to another level. Following a breathtaking 34-yard scamper, he finished off the game-winning drive with a nine-yard plunge. He had 26 carries for 207 yards on the night.

“Too many guys tackling up high and not enough tackling at the knees,” Santorio said. “Maybe we just got outplayed a little bit.”

A final gasp from the Vikings would end after a potential first-down catch went through the arms of Robinson on fourth down. A sack three plays earlier put GI in a deep hole.

“The kids have a lot to be proud of,” Santorio said. “I’m disappointed with them at all because they played hard.”