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Sports Archives — The Altamont Enterprise, September 10, 2009

Dutchmen play four hard quarters in tough loss to Bethlehem

By Jordan J. Michael

GUILDERLAND –– The red clashed with the black for another classic high school football game on Friday.

The Dutchmen tried to score in the final minutes of the season opening home game against Bethlehem, but came up short, 21-13.

Guilderland quarterback Ryan Smith completed a pass to Tony Stanish down inside the 10-yard line with about 10 seconds remaining, but the play was called back to midfield because Smith was over the line of scrimmage when he threw the ball.

The Dutch were forced to run the remaining seconds off the clock as a penalty.

“The officials said it was an illegal forward lateral,” Smith said moments after the game ended. “I wasn’t aware that I was over the line. It was an intense moment for all of us. Tony made a great catch. Too bad it didn’t count.”

“That was a very interesting and disappointing end to a great game,” said Head Coach Dan Penna. “It was a great pass and an outstanding catch. Unfortunately, we don’t have that blue line like they have on television to show you where the line of scrimmage is.”

Guilderland played a home game against the Eagles this season after traveling to Bethlehem last year for the season opener. The Dutch lost that game, 29 to 7, after getting only one first down in the first half.

The Dutch got off to a much better start in 2009, even though the team lost on Friday.

“It’s impossible to compare last year’s team to the one I have now,” Penna said. “We played four hard quarters of football, but we’re still learning the new system. The first game is always a learning experience.”

Friday marked the third consecutive loss for Guilderland in season openers. Even the 2007 team that went to the Class AA Super Bowl lost its first game. “Losing the first game is bad, but not awful,” said Penna.

The clash

The sun was creeping behind the trees as Bethlehem took the first kickoff. The Eagles tried to run the ball, but the Dutch defense held strong and forced a punt.

Matt Ward got Guilderland’s first offensive possession off to a good start after returning the punt down to the 28-yard line. Peter Quinn gained eight yards on a pass, but Smith eventually threw an interception and the Eagles took over.

The Dutchmen run defense forced Bethlehem into another punt and Guilderland had the ball on the 30-yard line after an awful kick by Jon Martin.

The Dutch struck first with 6:43 left in the first quarter when Smith hit Ward on a screen pass for the touchdown of 21 yards. Bethlehem was held scoreless and Guilderland had a 7-to-0 lead at the end of the first.

“We have a young defense and a few glitches in the offense,” Penna said. “But, I’m proud of the guys for buckling down and playing some hard football.”

The Eagles had the ball for the start of the second quarter and it would soon be the beginning of the Casiem Maxwell Show on the ground. Maxwell gained 307 yards on 28 carries.

Maxwell had a few hard runs, getting Bethlehem to Guilderland’s 34-yard line. After two penalties, the Eagles were backed up to the 45. Maxwell gained 25 yards on the next play and then proceeded to rumble 20 more yards for the touchdown, tying the game at 7 with eight minutes left in the half.

The crowd came back alive when Smith completed a pass to Matthew Wyland for 37 yards. However, after a drop by Ward and a holding penalty, the Dutchmen were forced to punt.

Bethlehem started the drive on its own 33-yard line and it wouldn’t take long to score. Devin Stampley had a run of 13 yards and Maxwell broke into the open field for a 54-yard touchdown run. The Eagles now had a 14-to-7 lead with 4:21 left in the first half.

“Bethlehem is a good running team and we knew they would try to run,” said Penna. “We have an attacking defense, so it creates some seams. It took us a little while to adjust to all the cutbacks, but we did have some poor tackling tonight.”

The Eagles had the ball with 1:26 left and the Dutch couldn’t afford to give up any more points. Maxwell broke another run, this time for 25 yards before Luke Stark finally made the tackle.

Cody Nolan completed a pass to Trey Silver and he stepped out of bounds with two seconds left on the clock, giving Bethlehem a field-goal opportunity. Guilderland blocked the kick from the 25-yard line, but forgot to run the ball back.

The score remained 14 to 7 as the teams headed into the locker room for halftime.

Down to the wire

The Dutchmen opened the second half with an impressive drive that included some clutch plays by Nick Robinson. Stark caught a pass deep in Bethlehem territory, but he fumbled the ball and the Eagles recovered at the 15-yard line.

Maxwell and Stampley continued to pound the Guilderland defense on the run, but Stampley fumbled and the Dutchmen went back to work on offense.

The furthest Guilderland got on the drive was its own 41-yard line. It was a scoreless third quarter.

“It was a hard-fought game by two young teams and we both made mistakes,” Penna said. “The turnovers really hurt us. My guys out there are leading the team for the first time and that can lead to mistakes. If we cut our mistakes, we win, but nothing is perfect.”

A 41-yard run by Maxwell in the final minutes of the third quarter brought Bethlehem into Guilderland’s red zone once again. The Eagles set up for a field goal at the nine-yard line, but the kick was blocked by a diving David Talyor.

The score remained 14 to 7, but the Dutch would change that on its next drive of 91 yards.

Smith started the drive with a 30-yard pass to Jack Walsh and that was followed by a Quinn catch for 20 yards. Quinn was about to receive another pass from Smith, but Bethlehem’s Mike Deruve was called for pass interference.

Guilderland had a first down on the 21-yard line after the penalty and Smith threw a perfect pass that only Quinn could catch in the end zone. However, the Dutch missed the extra point and was now down by one, 14-13, with 7:15 left in the game.

It was now the Eagles’ turn to run the ball and try to kill some clock. Maxwell had a 35-yard kickoff return and the team soon found itself on Guilderland’s 26-yard line. Maxwell and Stampley kept running and Stampley finally scored with 2:15 left, making it 21 to 13.

“We needed time and the ball back, so I told the defense to back up on that drive,” said Penna. “I actually wanted them to score because I wanted us to have enough time to tie the game.”

Two minutes would be enough time for the Dutchmen offense and the team got another gift from Deruve on a pass interference call. Smith hit Stanish to get into Bethlehem territory, but a personal foul backed them up.

The Eagles had some good defense to break up the next two passes by Smith, and Guilderland was left with 23 seconds and a fourth down. Stanish made a great catch at the end, but the game was over.

Smith threw 15 completions for 197 yards. Guilderland hosts Columbia at home on Friday.

“It was a crazy play at the end and I had no idea that Smith was over the line,” said Stanish after the game. “All I know is that we played four strong quarters. That’s what we were supposed to do.”

Coach Penna told The Enterprise that his Dutchmen would have won the game if there were five quarters, not four. “Our intensity was building at the end,” he said. “We just needed more time.”

“That was a shocking ending, but we have to move forward,” said Ward just after the game. “Well, looks like they just shut the scoreboard off, so we’ll just have to shut the disappointment of this game off, too.”

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