FONDA - The Fonda-Fultonville Braves now have not scored in their last seven quarters.
After a Pat Hart touchdown in the first quarter of last week's game against Watervliet, the Braves have been held scoreless by both the Cannoneers and the Chatham Panthers on Saturday.
However, Saturday, the defense couldn't keep the opposition off the scoreboard and the Braves found themselves on the losing end of a 34-0 Class C South game.
Fonda-Fultonville’s Matt Westfall tries to haul in a pass from Braves’ quarterback Russ Williams as Chatham's Tyler VanBrunt defends during Saturday's Class C South game at John G. Boshart Field in Fonda.
The Leader-Herald/Mike Zummo
It was the first time the Braves were shutout since Hudson Falls did it, 33-0, in 2007.
"They did everything well," Fonda-Fultonville coach Tom Carpenter said. "Up front they were solid. Their linebackers blitzed. They did a great job covering our guys. They defended the run and defended the pass. The credit goes to their coaches and their players. They did a very good job against us today."
Early in the game, however, things looked like they may go in a different direction when the Panthers (4-0 overall, 3-0 Class C South) had trouble hanging onto the football, muffing a punt and turning the ball over on a fumble.
However, Chatham responded to the muffed punt with an interception by Peter Howes and after the fumble forced a three-and-out.
"We fought back and held them," Chatham coach Shawn Caldwell said. "That was a big four downs right there."
The interception gave the Chatham offense a little early first-quarter life. Two plays after Howes' pick, quarterback Tyler VanBrunt connected with Jon Mackerer for a 45-yard touchdown pass, giving the Panthers a 7-0 lead.
Getting the ball back after their fumble, Chatham got much more deliberate on the ground as the Panthers marched 75 yards on 14 plays and chewed nearly 7 minutes off the game clock. Once the Panthers got to the Braves' 1-yard line, Van Brunt snuck the ball into the end zone for a 14-0 lead.
Overall, the Panthers had 230 yards on the ground
"We looked at Fonda on film," Caldwell said. "They're a great team. My guys really got the job done today. I've got to give it to my offensive line. They did a great job. The backs hit the holes and the quarterback threw a couple nice passes for some nice touchdowns."
The Panthers got the ball back to start the second half and were able to break the Braves' backs early. R.J. Sardo returned the opening kickoff 37 yards to midfield, then after several run plays, VanBrunt hooked up with Mackerer again for their second touchdown of the game, this one a 40-yard strike.
"We talked about it at halftime. 'We're up 14-0 and we've got the ball. We put one up right now, that's big,'" Caldwell said. "We ran the ball a few times. We saw they were cheating in and we just went over the top. [Our] quarterback made a great throw and that was a great catch."
The Braves' offense got itself going slightly in the second half, twice reaching the red zone. One drive stalled at the Panthers' 12-yard line and another got as far as the 7 before a penalty pushed Fonda-Fultonville (2-1 overall, 2-1 Class C South) back and out of range.
"I think we can play better than we did today, but the credit goes to them," Carpenter said. "It was 14-0 at halftime and then in the second half, we had some chances and they made the plays. We didn't make the plays."
However, being shut out by the Panthers isn't something unique to the Braves. They blanked Voorheesville 52-0 last week and Stillwater in Week 2. Coxsackie-Athens has recorded the only touchdown on the Chatham defense all season. Saturday afternoon, the Panthers had two sacks, deflected eight passes and picked off one.
They did an excellent, excellent job," Caldwell said. "We stopped the run. We dropped back in the secondary very well. The guys put in a lot of hard work to earn this."
Chatham will move on to face Watervliet, while the Braves will visit Coxsackie-Athens next week as they look to get their offense scoring again.
"Kids have to just keep working," Carpenter said. "There isn't any one thing in particular. They just have to keep working and stay positive. We knew going in we were veterans up front and inexperienced guys. At this stage in the season, that's not an excuse. I'm not making excuses. We, as coaches, coach them up and keep coaching them up and keep working."
Chatham 34, Fonda-Fultonville
Chatham7 7 13 7 - 34
Fonda-Fultonville0 0 0 0 - 0
C - Mackerer 45 pass from VanBrunt (VanBrunt kick), 9:26
C - VanBrunt 1 run (VanBrunt kick), 11:23
C - Mackerer 40 pass from VanBrunt (VanBrunt kick), 9:28
C -Joseph 13 run (run failed), 1:57
C - Sardo 2 run (VanBrunt kick), 5:32