By MATT PARRINO
The Tonawanda News
Tonawanda News — Nehemiah Stone has been waiting for his chance to show what he can do at the bottom of the depth chart behind several backs in a crowded North Tonawanda backfield.
On Friday night the sophomore got what he'd been waiting for.
Starting running back Christian Mahoe left the game in the second quarter after suffering a severely sprained ankle, so Stone took advantage of the increased role and finished with 156 yards rushing and three touchdowns to help the Lumberjacks beat Kenmore East in dramatic fashion, 31-28, at the North Tonawanda Sports Complex.
"I knew I had to step up and coach looked at me and said 'it's your time.' I just wanted a shot," Stone said.. "I was just taking whatever my line gave me. I just ran where there was a hole and on some of those touchdowns, I could've walked in. That's not me, that's the line."
North Tonawanda (1-3, 1-2 A North) led for the majority of the game, but Kenmore East took the lead in the fourth quarter behind the strong play of junior quarterback Connor McMahon. He finished with 116 yards passing and four touchdowns — two passing and two rushing — and none was bigger than his 36-yard rushing score with just over six minutes left in the game.
The Jacks trailed 28-23 and NT fans in attendance feared a fourth straight loss, but sophomore quarterback Chris Woodard had other ideas. The young signal caller has made big plays the past two weeks on his team's potential go-ahead drive. But this week he had Stone to finish things off.
After Stone gave the Jacks great field position — at their own 49-yard line — on a 34-yard return, Woodard converted a 3rd and 2 on a monster 30-yard run, shedding tacklers in search of any extra yards. Stone finished off the drive with the game-winning, 6-yard touchdown run and rushed successfully for the two-point conversion.
Truilizio said he was thrilled with the play of his young running back shortly after receiving a water shower from his players.
"It does feel good. I think I have a few more gray hairs, but it does feel good," he said. "(Nehemiah was) amazing. We have such a young team and the youngsters produced for us. The seniors are allowing them to be successful and I was very happy with the outcome, but we're working toward turning the corner. This was the first step toward that."
Before Mahoe was injured, the junior speedster amassed 103 yards on eight carries, helping the Jacks total a staggering 386 rushing yards in the game — 202 of those came in the first half.
The Jacks' defense had its disappointing moments in the game, but Truilizio was happy that the unit came together to shut down the Bulldogs on their final drive to wrap up the win.
"The offense has been the cornerstone of our team all season long, avergaing over 300 yards a game," he said. "But the defense had to step up and they finally took a stand."
Mahoe is day to day and Truilizio won't know about his availability for next game until later in the week.
Ken East ran for 254 total yards in the game and Brandon Derion and Brandon Mack caught touchdown passes in the loss.Contact Sports Editor Matt Parrino at 693-1000 ext. 4117 and find Tonawands sports @tonanewssports.