By Sean Lynch
Section 9 Football Insider Staff
MAHOPAC — Despite winning its first state playoff win since 2014, Cornwall running back Amin Woods was level-headed and collected as he accepted his player of the game plaque.
The Dragons (10-0) snapped a three-game state tournament losing streak by beating John Jay-Cross River 35-14 in the quarterfinals of the Class A state playoffs at Mahopac High School on Friday night.
Woods gave a quick smile, raised the plaque and returned to the Cornwall sideline; almost as if he was walking around the school hallway on any given day.
Except it wasn’t any given day. The junior running back rushed for a career-high 279 yards on 15 attempts and three touchdowns of 65-or-more yards.
The conditions at Mahopac weren’t ideal, but Woods made do with what was given. “Our team can play in any conditions, and tonight we showed that,” Woods said.
The Cornwall offensive line was at its best, allowing zero plays of negative yards in the entire. “All the credit in my success tonight goes to the offensive line,” he added. “They were able to give me opportunities to make plays for the team. They had a great game tonight.”
The playoffs have been somewhat of a breakout part of the season for Woods. In the team’s seven regular season games, he had 717 rushing yards. In three postseason games this season, he has 693 yards — 24 yards less than what he rushed for in the regular season.
“I don’t even know what he is, man. He’s a workhorse,” said Cornwall defensive back Zach Suarez. “He’s the most humble man. You don’t hear him talk at all — he just goes out there and does his thing.”
Suarez recovered a 99-yard fumble return to give the Dragons a 21-7 lead with 4:19 left in the third quarter. Woods put the game away with two long touchdowns within 2:41 of each other in the fourth quarter.
Freshman quarterback Aidan Semo was pumped up after the Dragons victory. “This isn’t just my first time going to the state semifinals, but I think it’s the first time for all the players on our team,” he said. “I can’t keep even describe what it feels like,” Semo added. “It’s the best feeling I’ve ever had in my whole life.”
Semo finished 8-of-11, for 93 yards and a touchdown, all of which came in the first half. Cornwall’s first offensive play in the second half came with 1:12 left in the third quarter.
John Jay-Cross River scored a touchdown on a 43-yard rush by Bryce Ford with 5:21 left, but the Dragons ran the ball and killed the clock to secure a 35-14 win.
“John Jay Cross-River has one of the best defensive lines in the entire state,” said Cornwall head coach Eric Holzapple. “Our offensive line was amazing tonight, and Amin (Woods) made some game-changing plays for us.”
Cornwall moves onto the Class A state semifinals where they play Burnt Hills-Ballston Spa, Friday at 8 p.m. at Faller Field.
“I told our team after the game ‘Imagine what you’re feeling right now — then imagine what it’ll feel like next Friday,’” Holzapple said. “This team is hungry to make their mark in Cornwall history, and bring home our first state championship.”