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Raiders take playoff loss to Cooperstown

A decade had passed since the Canastota football team had even gone as far as the Section III Class C semifinals, but that goal was now within reach.

The Raiders were giving unbeaten Cooperstown real trouble in Saturday's Class C quarterfinal -- but a key turnover just before halftime turned things in the host's favor, leading to a 46-24 loss to the Redskins.

Canastota had overcome an 0-2 start to win five consecutive games, including a 21-17 decision over Herkimer in the Class C opening round.

Meanwhile, Cooperstown got a first-round scare before edging Sauquoit Valley 33-26, giving Raider fans the belief that it could spring a surprise in the next round.

Amid a lot of rain and mud, Canastota and Cooperstown combined for 24 points in a wild first quarter. Going first, the Raiders steadily moved to the Redskins' seven-yard line, from where Jake LaBarre scored, then added a two-point c0nversion.

Moments later, Cooperstown tied it, 8-8, when Tyler Niedzialkowski broke loose on a 64-yard TD run and Alec Silvera added the conversion. But the Raiders struck right back with another scoring drive as LaBarre, from 14 yards out, got his second TD and, once again, ran in for two points.

That would prove to be the high point. Niedzialkowski returned with a 25-yard TD run in the second quarter, and again Silvera ran in for two points as Cooperstown got even, 16-16.

If the game turned anywhere, it came late in that period, when the Redskins' Luke Folts intercepted a Bill Marsh pass and returned it deep into Raider territory. When Silvera scored from five yards out and Tyler Hoke threw a two-point pass to Scott Millea, Cooperstown took its first lead, 24-16.

Sparked by that play, the Redskins dominated the third quarter, adding two more scores, both on runs by Silvera, to make it 38-16.

Silvera finished with 100 yards, but Niedzialkowski got the big gains as he torched Canastota's defense for 209 yards on 19 carries and three TDs, including one in the fourth quarter.

Sam Stagnitti got a fourth-quarter touchdown for the Raiders, who fell to 5-3 and will face Holland Patent in a crossover game this weekend to close out its season.

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