GLOVERSVILLE -With a sectional playoff berth at stake, the pressure was on the Gloversville Huskies Friday night at Robert E. Gould Stadium at Husky Field.
And they responded big time.
Facing South Glens Falls, which had an identical 0-2 record as the Huskies in the Class A Northwest Division, Gloversville punched in 26 first-quarter points en route to defeating the Bulldogs 33-0 and advance to postseason play after a year's absence.
Gloversville’s Mike Murray (44) recovers a fumble by South?Glens Falls quarterback Louis DeRidder during the third quarter of Friday’s Class A Northwest Division game at Husky Field in Gloversville. (The Leader-Herald/James A. Ellis)
"This was a must-need win and the guys really stepped up tonight, ran the ball successfully and we got it," Gloversville coach Jared Bongo said.
A downpour hit Husky Field 15 minutes before the opening kick off on homecoming night and continued through most of the first half.
The slick field conditions did little to slow the Huskies.
Gloversville (2-4 overall, 1-2 Class A Northwest) stopped the Bulldogs on their first possession and senior co-captain Mike Murray set the tone for what would be an explosive first quarter.
Murray ran Alex Stark's punt back 77 yards for a touchdown, but had it waved off for a blocking foul.
It only delayed the score as Asa Barnhill carried the ball 18 yards for the touchdown.
The Gloversville defense again held its ground on South High's second possession, forcing another punt.
Murray again got a strong run on Stark's punt, breaking through three tackles for a 44-yard touchdown. This time it stood.
Murray struck again on South High first play from scrimmage after ensuing kickoff as he intercepted Louis Deridder's pass and ran it back 29 yards for his second touchdown in a span of 15 seconds to help stake the Huskies to a 19-0 advantage.
The Huskies capitalized on another South Glens Falls turnover.
Brandon Paul recovered a fumble at the South High 35 and ran it back to the 2-yard line. A blocking penalty moved the ball back to the 14-yard line. The Bulldogs defense held and moved Gloversville back, setting up a fourth-and-15. Gloversville opted to go for it and Barnhill scampered 15 yards into the end zone. David Vandenabeele kicked his second point after to give the Huskies a 26-0 first quarter lead.
"It seemed like in a span of five minutes everything that could go against us, did," South Glens Falls coach Mike Hammond said. "Our guys know how to keep playing regardless of what happens. We started shoring some things up and getting guys in the right positions and we were able to right the ship in the second half. Unfortunately when you have that many things go wrong in that short of a time span, it is tough to recover."
The Bulldogs threatened early in the second quarter when Deridder connected with Cody Lane on a 40-yard reception, setting South High up first-and-goal on the 2-yard line. Deridder dropped back and threw the ball in the direction of Travis Rowe in the end zone, but Barnhill stepped in front of Rowe for the interception and give the Huskies possession on the 2-yard line.
Gloversville moved the ball to the 40-yard line before having the drive stall.
After the punt from Mike Fancher, the Gloversville defense again did its job and held the Bulldogs to take over on downs on their own 32.
Barnhill went to he air with a 13-yard completion to David DelRio and a 27-yard pass to Fancher to set the Huskies up first-and-goal on the 3-yard line.
Vandenabeele carried the ball over the left side but was hit at the goal line, knocking the ball free. DelRio was in position pounce on the loose ball in the end zone for the touchdown. With Vandenabeele's point after kick, Gloversville carried a 33-0 halftime lead into the locker room.
Gloversville maintained its advantage through the second half with the defense coming up with drive-stopping plays, including a fumble recoveries by Murray and Paul as well as a sack by Rory Lewis that led to a fumble by Deridder and a fumble recovery by Zach Broughton.
"We finally put all three phases of the football game together tonight," Bongo said. "The defense played outstanding tonight. We established the run and, if it wasn't so wet, I think we could have established the pass also. We played well and in the second half everybody got a chance to play."
Gloversville finished the game with 308 yards of total offense, while holding South High to 79 yards.
Murray finished the game with 118 yards rushing on 12 carries, while Barnhill carried the ball eight times for 85 yards and was 2-for-3 passing for 40 yards.
The Huskies defense held South High to three yards rushing on 18 attempts. Deridder was 6 for 17 passing for 76 yards and two interceptions and was sacked twice.
The Huskies will return to the home turf next Friday to face Queensbury in a key game for sectional seeding.
"This is a big week for us," Bongo said. "This is a battle for the third and fourth spot in the Northwest. Whoever wins the game with get the three and will be playing the two and the other will be four playing the one. I would rather be the three. We have a challenge in front of us. Every game from here on out is a playoff. Tonight was the biggest game of the year, but now every game from here on out is the most important game of the season."
Gloversville 33, South Glens Falls 0
South Glens Falls0 0 0 0 - 0
Gloversville26 7 0 0 - 33
G - Asa Barnhill 18 run (Vandenabeele kick), 7:26.
G - Mike Murray 47 punt return (kick blocked), 5:02.
G - Murray 29 interception return (run failed), 4:47.
G - Barnhill 15 run (Vandenabeele kick), 1:44.
G - David DelRio fumble recovery in end zone (Vandenabeele kick), 2:39.