JOHNSON CITY – With temperatures below freezing and a dusting of snow coating the field, Walton came up empty-handed in the Section IV Class D final, dropping a 44-36 classic to Tioga.
Neither team had trouble finding the end zone despite the raw conditions, but it was the Tigers who ended with the advantage on the scoreboard.
Tied at 36, Tioga quarterback Brady Worthing rushed in the game-winning touchdown in the game's waning minutes, ending the Warriors' season.
"We played a real good football team. We played with them for the most part," Walton coach Adam Hoover said. "They forced us into some mistakes and that's the difference in the game. I didn't think it'd be as high-scoring as it was. I thought it'd be a close game. I thought it'd be like the first game, so for both offenses to play as well as they did, that kind of surprised me."
The teams met back on Sept. 6, in a game Tioga also took, 23-20.
Worthing and running back Emmett Wood were the stars for the Tigers as the duo scored all of Tioga's touchdowns, all on rushes.
"We knew those two were good football players," Hoover said. "Before we came out here tonight, they proved what we already knew. We contained them here and there but we didn't do a consistent job. All season when we needed our defense to make stops we were able to, in this game we weren't able to.
"They had a good game plan. They took advantage of some of our keys and allowed Worthing, especially, to run wild on certain plays," Hoover continued. "There's a reason why they're in this position most years."
Tioga has spent the season atop the New York State Sportswriters Association's Class D football rankings after reaching the state semifinals in 2018 and winning the state title in 2015.
The Warriors scored on their very first drive of the game on a short rush just off the goal line from Kaylieb Stanton to take a quick 8-0 lead after the two-point conversion.
The Tigers responded with a long rush from Wood but failed the two-point conversion, cutting the deficit to 8-6.
The second quarter featured 30 combined points in which both offenses moved up the field with ease.
A 25-yard rush up the right side from Warriors running back Nick Lamoreaux and a score from Worthing on a quarter keeper were the first two touchdowns in the frame.
Tioga scored two more consecutive touchdowns on a pair of lengthy rushes up the middle from Worthing, pushing its advantage to 28-16.
Walton got the ball back late in the half and brought it to a one-possession game on a scramble from quarterback Dylan Jacob, who found the end zone with 1.9 seconds showing on the clock. The Warriors capitalized on the two-point conversion to make it 28-24 in favor of the Tigers, capping off a wild first half.
The Tigers rushing attack continued to do damage in the second half as Wood kicked off the third quarter with a 30-yard score at 5:40. Wood weaved around a few Walton defenders along the left side before punching it in, bringing the score to 36-24.
The Warriors fumbled on their first possession of the second half, setting up Wood’s second touchdown of the game.
Walton showed no quit as it marched up the field with a time-consuming drive and converted on another goal line score from Stanton with 1:19 left in the third quarter. The Warriors could not capitalize on the two-point conversion, making it a 36-30 game.
Tioga fumbled on its following drive allowing Walton to get the ball right back and the Warriors took advantage of the Tigers’ mistake.
Jacob slithered in the left side of the end zone from about 20 yards out, knotting the score at 36-36.
Tioga furthered the shootout with another rushing touchdown from Worthing, taking the lead back at 44-36. Walton nearly took over on downs during the drive, but the Tigers converted a short fourth down to keep the drive alive.
The Warriors finished with an 8-2 record while the Tigers improve to 10-0.
"I'm proud of our kids and I'm proud of the way we didn't give up, even when it didn't look good," Hoover said. "We came back and tied the game up and had a chance there at the end and that's all you can ask for."