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With heavy heart, Kieran Presley carries Amherst Regional football

AMHERST — Before Kieran Presley took the field for Amherst Regional’s Friday evening game against Cathedral, the senior running back/receiver wrote “R.I.P.” on the pink glare-blocking tape under his right eye and “9/28/2012” under his left.

Presley was unable to get to New Jersey Friday for the funeral of his grandmother, Phyllis Presley, who died a week ago, so he wanted to pay tribute on the field.

He got the chance on the last touchdown of Amherst’s 43-0 win over Cathedral.

On the first play of the fourth quarter, Presley took the handoff on first-and-10 from Amherst’s own 47 and ran through a hole on the left side of the line. At first he was just trying to get an extra yard or two as he battled through the collection of Panther hands trying to haul him down.

He was still on his feet when he saw the hole open to the right. He cut hard, brushing off another defender and started sprinting diagonally across the field toward the far-right corner of the end zone.

It would have been a big gain even if the last Cathedral defender reached him near the 10-yard line, but senior Austin Cunningham delivered a high-impact block allowing Presley to cross the goal line with ease for his third touchdown.

“I saw the lane break through, but it was all my blockers,” said Presley, who rushed for 60 yards on six carries. “I’m going to give Austin that touchdown. I started to cramp up at the 20-yard line. He took that hit for me.”

Presley paused in the end zone and pointed to the sky, his grandmother on his mind.

“I was playing for her. The service was today, down in New Jersey and I couldn’t make it,” he said. “I wanted to have a good game for her.”

The play was the final punctuation on a dominant performance for the Hurricanes, who put their frustrating 27-18 loss to Holyoke last week in the rearview mirror.

“This was a great way to bounce back,” said Amherst coach David Thompson, whose team improved to 2-1 (1-0 Suburban). “Today we tried to come out and limit the penalties and execute.”

Amherst jumped ahead quickly after a 32-yard run by Brandon Rivera set up Presley’s first score, a 3-yard touchdown run over the middle that made it 7-0 with 6:28 left in the first quarter.

After the Hurricane defense and a penalty forced Cathedral (1-4, 0-2) into second-and-20 from the Amherst 44, Taj Torres picked off Josh Wyzik’s halfback pass at the Hurricane 32 and raced down the left sideline for a touchdown. Justin Carey hit Isaiah Davis-Toledo for the 2-point conversion to make it 15-0 with 3:02 left in the first.

The offensive avalanche continued in the second half as Carey (4 for 9, 90 yards) hit Presley for a 9-yard TD pass and then closed the half with a 55-yard scoring strike to Torres to take a 29-0 lead at intermission.

Luke Allen scored from a yard out with 2:03 left in the third quarter before Presley’s final score allowed Thompson to take his starters out.

NOTES — Each Amherst player wore pink socks and some added pink arm and wrist bands as part of breast cancer awareness month. The game was scheduled to start at 4 p.m., but was delayed about 20 minutes because of Cathedral’s late arrival. It ended shortly before the 6:30 p.m. curfew on outdoor events because of the mosquito-borne illness concerns.

Matt Vautour can be reached at mvautour@gazettenet.com.

Football

Amherst 43, Cathedral 0

at Amherst

Catherdral 0 0 0 0—00

Amherst 15 14 7 7—43

First quarter

A-Kieran Presley 3 run (Nikolai Wright kick), 6:28

A-Taj Torres 68 interception return (Davis Toledo pass from Justin Carey), 3:02

Second quarter

A-Presley 9 pass from Carey (Wright kick), 7:54

A-Torres 55 pass from Carey, (Wright kick), 0:59

Third quarter

A-Luke Allen 1 run (Wright kick), 2:03

Fourth quarter

A-Presley 53 run, (Wright kick), 11:42

INDIVIDUAL STATISTICS

Passing: Amherst-Carey 4-9-90-0; Cathedral-Danehey-4-11-33-1; Wyzik 0-0-0-1

Rushing: Amherst-B. Rivera 9-55; Presley 6-60; M.Rivera 4-68; Carey 2-23; Riley 1-9; Allen 1-1; Sylla 3-14; Doctor 1-1; Clark 1-(-4). Cathedral - Danahey 5-1; Wyzik 6-53; Almenus 7-49; Ransome 7-10, Roberts 2-6; Gregory 1-(0-3)

Receiving: Amherst-Torres 1-55; Presley 1-9, Davis-Toledo 1-19; Allen 1-7. Cathedral - Wyzik 2-18; Ransome 1-15; Brown 1-0

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