STILLWATER - Kevin Twardzik and Zac Nowak walked off the field together with about four minutes to go in Saturday's Section II Class C semifinal game, knowing they wouldn't be going back out on the field.
The scoreboard told Saturday night's story, showing the Braves were defeated by Hoosick Falls, the top seed from the North Division, 47-0 at Warrior Field in Stillwater.
"This is the hardest thing I've ever done," senior captain Kevin Twardzik said. "I never thought it would come to this."
Fonda-Fultonville’s Ryan Derby tries to outrun Hoosick Falls’ Randy Tutunjian and Brad Burns during Saturday’s Section II Class C semifinal game at Warrior Field in Stillwater. (The Leader-Herald/Mike Zummo)
Nowak took consolation in the Braves' effort.
"We went out there and gave it our all," Nowak said. "That's what we did. Obviously, it didn't result the way we wanted it to, but we went out and we played as hard as we could."
The Braves couldn't mount any kind of attack against the Panthers' defense from the opening kickoff, as they were shut out for the second time this season. The last time was a 34-0 loss to the South's top seed, Chatham.
Class B Semifinals
Glens Falls 41, Schuylerville 22
Class C Semifinals
Hoosick Falls 47, FFCS 0
Chatham 23, Mechanicville 20
Class D Semifinals
Rensselaer 54, Whitehall 28
Salem 27, Cambridge 26
"I think we had a great plan, both offensively and defensively, but we just need to execute it," Fonda-Fultonville coach Tom Carpenter said. "When you can't sometimes, it's not so much what we can do, it's just that they did it better tonight."
After a three-and-out by the Braves, the Panthers (9-0) struck fast as quarterback Billy Pine hooked up with Josh Brogue on a quick slant, which resulted in a 64-yard touchdown pass, giving Hoosick Falls a 7-0 lead.
The Braves stopped the Panthers at their 15-yard line and blocked a field-goal attempt, but was unable to capitalize on the stop, going on another three-and-out.
The Panthers ended the first quarter on the Braves' 1-yard line and Pine brought the ball into the end zone for a 13-0 lead.
"Our guys made plays where they shut down the play we called and our guys were able to bounce it outside," Hoosick Falls coach Ron Jones said. "Credit our kids. They knew to keep blocking and always hustling, and I think that allows us to get some big runs out of it."
Hoosick Falls ended the first-half scoring when Pine connected with Randy Tutunjian along the right sideline for a 33-yard touchdown pass, breaking the Braves' defense on a fourth-and-4 with 50 seconds to go in the half.
"The kid threw a great ball and the kid made a great catch," Carpenter said. "It's football. They made the plays. They're a real good football team."
From there, Hoosick Falls ran away with the game, scoring two touchdowns in each of the next two quarters. Pine scored on a 26-yard run and Brad Burns scored on a 21-yard run. In the fourth quarter, Burns scored on an 8-yard run and Pine scored on a 2-yard run.
"I'm proud of our kids," Carpenter said. "They kept our composure, they hung in there and even when we gave up some big plays earlier, we fought back and made some plays ourselves. I'm proud of his team for doing that. I think the score wasn't really indicative of the game. I think it was a better game than the score, but you have to credit them. They deserved all 47 of those points."
Hoosick Falls will move on to face Chatham, the top seed out of the South, who beat Mechanicville in the afternoon game, 23-20. The two teams will meet Friday night at Warrior Field.
As the final minutes ticked away on the Braves' season, Nowak went around to each of the seniors, reminding them of what the Braves had accomplished this season.
"We had a hell of a run this year," Nowak said. "I didn't want it to stop here and I just wanted them to all know that this was one of the best seasons we've had here."
However, that season is now over as the Braves (5-3) will move into the offseason knowing they will need to find a way to move on without the services of 12 seniors, who have guided the program for the last several years.
"The finality of it is the tough part for them," Carpenter said. "I'm fortunate that, God willing, I'll be able to coach next year. Their season's over, so it's tough. I appreciate their efforts and all that they do in the offseason and in the games and practices and everything. The finality of it is a hard pill to swallow."
Quarterback Russ Williams wasn't thinking Friday night about what will be lost. His mind already had shifted toward 2013, which will be his senior year.
"We take a lot [from this game] because I think we have a right to be confident with what we're returning," Williams said. "We're returning a lot of key guys and I think it only goes up from that game."
Hoosick Falls 47, Fonda-Fultonville 0
Fonda-Fultonville0 0 0 0 - 0
Hoosick Falls7 13 13 14 - 47
HF - Brogue 64 pass from Pine (Kaufmann kick), 10:47
HF - Pine 1 run (pass failed), 11:55
HF - Tutunjian 33 pass from Pine (Kaufmann kick), 50.3
HF - Pine 26 run (Kaufmann kick), 10:00
HF - Burns 21 run (kick failed), 1:24
HF - Burns 8 run (Kaufmann kick), 10:59
HF - Pine 2 run (Kaufmann kick), 9:48