JOHNSON CITY — On Sept. 6, the Tioga Tigers and the Walton Warriors clashed in the first week of the season. That game saw signs of greatness as Tioga squeaked by with a 23-20 win.
Eight weeks later, the two teams met again, but this time snow covered the ground along with a Section 4 championship on the line. The first game also saw senior quarterback Brady Worthing leading Tioga to a victory. That would be the case again in this one as Worthing found the end zone four times scoring from more than 20 yards each time As Tioga won 44-36. He was also awarded the game’s Most Valuable Player.
“We had another great game against them,” said Worthing “We just had to keep driving on offense and eventually get a stop on defense, which worked for us.”
The Walton Warriors were the first team to get on the board with the momentum, scoring from three yards out to take an 8-0 lead. Tioga then quickly answered with a 37-yard touchdown run from sophomore Emmett Wood to inch the Tigers closer but sitting with an 8-6 deficit.
Worthing’s first long touchdown run of the night was the next score in the game to put Tioga up 14-8 at the end of the first quarter. The Tigers finished the game having all six touchdowns accounting for 20 yards or more.
More back and forth action highlighted the second quarter that saw more of the run game and a whole lot of scoring. The Warriors ended up outscoring Tioga 16-14 in the second quarter off of chunk yardage runs that came from yards after contact.
“Hats off to Walton, they had a lot of good plays going down the field when they needed it,” said Head Coach Nick Aiello. “They got a lot of chunk yardage plays that really made it as good of a game that it was.”
After holding a 28-24 lead for Tioga at halftime, the Tigers were able to extend their lead with another Worthing touchdown run but could not convert on the PAT run to take a 36-24 lead.
Just as it seemed Tioga was going to pull away, Walton capitalized on two straight touchdowns to tie the ball game up at 36 late in the fourth quarter. The Warriors saw touchdowns in that run from quarterback Dylan Jacob and Kaylieb Stanton.
Tioga just needed one more score to go ahead in the game and secure the championship, and the Tigers did just that driving 45 yards down the field while Worthing capped off yet another touchdown run, this time from 26 yards out. A defensive stop after that drive would solidify the 44-36 win to earn the Tigers’ eighth sectional championship in nine seasons.
While winning Most Valuable player, Worthing also accounted for four touchdowns off of 11 carries for 178 yards rushing to help his team advance to the state playoffs.
“It feels great to get the win tonight, but our whole team knows we’re not done yet,” said Worthing. “We’re going to come hungry next week especially on defense to try to keep advancing.”
“There was a huge build up for this game basically all season,” said Aiello. “We’re going to enjoy this one, but refocus so that we’re ready to go again next week.”
With the victory, the Tioga Tigers now move to 10-0 on the season while Walton ends its impressive year with an 8-2 record.
The Tioga sectional championship now turns into a state playoff appearance that will get under way next week. The team will play the winner of the Section III Championship game, Frankfort-Schuyler vs. Waterville. Both teams come in at 7-2. That game will be set to kick off next Friday at 5 p.m. at Vestal High School.