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Sports Archives — The Altamont Enterprise, October 7, 2010

Dutchmen let game slip away after amazing 21-point comeback

By Jordan J. Michael

GUILDERLAND –– It was the perfect Homecoming game for the Dutchmen football team: 21 unanswered points in the fourth quarter to take the lead. But, shockingly, Ballston Spa drove the field and scored with 19 seconds remaining, stealing a win from Guilderland.

The Scotties had escaped and the scoreboard read 35 to 31. In an instant, Guilderland and its big crowd went from total elation to full deflation.

“It’s like jumping out of an airplane and not having a parachute,” said senior quarterback Ryan Smith, who threw for 192 yards and three touchdowns. “You pull, and pull, but nothing is there.”

“What can you say?” senior Matt Callanan said. “It’s an awful feeling.”

After the Dutch took a 31-to-28 lead, the Scotties started a drive at its own 25-yard line with 8:35 left in regulation play. The team pounded Guilderland’s defense by running it up the gut on several plays, keeping the drive going, while the clock kept winding down.

Eventually, Ballston Spa had a first down at the Dutch nine-yard line with 1:33 remaining. The Scotties kept running the ball with little gain and the clock was now left with 28 seconds on a third down and goal.

“We showed a ton a resiliency on that drive,” said Ballston Spa Head Coach John Bowen. “We’re lucky to get out of here with a win after giving up all those points.”

On the third and goal play, quarterback Tony Gargiulo, who had already ran for 242 yards, dropped back and threw a pass to Kyle Warmt, who dove for the ball, coming up empty handed. The crowd went wild, but a yellow flag was thrown. Guilderland’s Jack Walsh was called for pass interference and Ballston Spa was given a first down on the six-yard line.

The crowd chanted “bullshit” in unison and Guilderland was clearly disputing the call, which was rough, given the situation.

“It was a controversial call and I was never given an explanation by the referees,” Head Coach Dan Penna said after the game. “Walsh had the inside position. I guess the ref saw it differently.”

On the next play, Gargiulo threw to Warmt again in the end zone, and the competition was good for the unbelievable victory. More chants of “bullshit” loomed in the background.

Smith told The Enterprise that the ref “will have to deal with the consequences of his call,” but also noted that Guilderland did have a chance to stop Ballston Spa from scoring.

“A call is a call, I guess,” Smith said. “But, he should have looked a little closer.”

“Honestly, I think it was a bad call,” Callanan said. “That’s just life. We’ll have to recover. Either way, we fought like warriors.”

Clawing back

Friday’s game was full of shifts of emotion and points. Players from both sides had nothing left after it was over.

Ballston Spa seemed to be rolling after Smith attempted a quarterback sneak with 10 seconds left in the first half, only to fumble and watch as Chris Ohnsman recovered and ran the ball back 80 yards for a 14-to-10 lead.

On the Scotties’ first possession of the third quarter, Gargiulo found a hole up the middle and busted a run for 55 yards and a touchdown. The score was now 21 to 10.

Ballston Spa blocked a punt on Guilderland’s next possession, but couldn’t capitalize after Matt Beighey missed an 18-yard field goal. However, the Scotties’ offense got another chance after R.J. Borgolini intercepted a Smith pass intended for Dom Litz, who wasn’t paying attention.

The Scotties lined up on the Guilderland 27-yard line and it didn’t take long for the team to score. Bill Cook ran it into the end zone from eight yards out, increasing the lead to 28 to 10 as the third quarter ended.

“I knew they would gain yards on us,” said Penna of Ballston Spa.

The Dutchmen had one quarter left and one deep hole to dig itself out of. The defense started to go after the football and things started happening quickly.

“We battled to the end and held composure despite all of the emotional pieces,” Penna said. “Our team should be proud.”

Guilderland was in mid-drive at the Scotties’ 39-yard line when the fourth quarter started, down 18 points. The Dutch got some help from Carm Pascuito, who was called for a personal foul. Conor Hurley got Guilderland down to the two-yard line on a screenplay, and Ryan Fanuele scored after catching a deflected pass in the end zone.

Ballston Spa’s lead was now cut to 28 to 16 with 11:16 remaining.

Gargiulo fumbled on the Scotties’ next drive and Noah Poskanzer recovered it for Guilderland at the 19-yard line. After a penalty backed up the Dutch, Smith found a wide open Dylan August on a slant up the middle for a score.

The two-point conversion was good and the score was now 28 to 24 with 8:55 left.

On Ballston Spa’s next drive, Pascuito caused the team more trouble by fumbling the toss on an option play to the right. The Dutchmen had a first down on the Scotties’ 20-yard line after Nigel Simmons recovered the ball.

“You absolutely cannot give Smith the football on a short field,” Bowen said. “He’s too talented and he has too many weapons. They were clearly getting after the ball and we paid for it.”

Smith fired a pass to Litz on the first play for the touchdown and Guilderland now had the lead. It was an amazing comeback and the crowd went berserk.

Penna was happy with the “terrific rally” after the game. “We made some mistakes, but we kept our heads on straight and went after the ball,” he said. “The pressure was on.”

The fourth quarter rally, though, means almost nothing because the Dutchmen lost the game. “It hurts because they fought hard and never quit,” Penna said of his players.

Guilderland is 1-3 in the Empire League of Class AA and 2-3 overall. To keep its playoff hopes alive, the team will have to win its final two games and it starts on Friday at Shenendehowa, a team that is 5-0.

Penna told The Enterprise that the Ballston Spa loss is a “rallying point” for the Dutch. “We’ll go to Shen and prove we can play,” he said.

“Our backs are against the wall,” said Smith. “We’ve missed some opportunities this season, but the wind should start blowing our way.”

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