Bright lights on opening night for Dutch

GUILDERLAND — Before the start of Friday night’s game, the Guilderland football players ripped through a banner that was held by the cheerleaders.
The banner read, "Friday Night Lights presents 2007 Gland Varsity Season Kickoff." There could have been a subtitle added to that: "Welcome to the Drew Smith Show."

The dynamic Smith scored on two electric plays and was backed by a strong defense as Guilderland shut down Albany, 20-0, to open the 2007 football campaign.
"We had a couple of explosive plays," Smith said after the game. "I got great blocking by the line. We have speed on the outside, but my passing wasn’t so good."

Smith moved from the wing back position to quarterback for this season. But he still made his presence known with his legs and not his arm. He did not complete a pass in the game.

Smith scored on a 75-yard punt return and a 53-yard run — both in the second quarter to give the Dutchmen a 20-0 lead. Senior running back Paul Booker scored the first touchdown of the game on a 10-yard run.
"Drew’s a neat kid," said Guilderland Coach Dan Penna. "Every time he has the ball in his hands, a big play can happen. Coach [Garth] Childs did a nice job in the off-season with him. We also want to utilize Drew’s speed."

"Championship-caliber kid"

Neither team scored in the first quarter. Albany had opened the game with a big long drive but fumbled the ball at the Guilderland 36-yard line. Senior linebacker Pete Stanish recovered the ball for the Dutchmen.

Guilderland would later capitalize on the turnover. The Dutch moved the ball to the 48-yard line.

As the second quarter began, Smith took the snap and the line opened a huge hole in the center of the line. Smith ran up the middle and wasn’t stopped until 42 yards later, and giving his team a first-and-goal on the 10-yard line.

Booker scored on the next play on a run around the right end, and Guilderland had a 6-0 lead with 11:27 left in the second quarter.

Guilderland forced the Falcons to punt on their next possession and the Dutchmen scored quickly.

Smith fielded the punt on his own 25-yard line. He made a couple of moves and broke a couple of tackles, then sprinted down the home-team sideline untouched as he got excellent blocking and strolled into the end zone to give his team a 12-0 lead.

Smith and Booker connected on a two-point conversion pass and the Dutchmen had a 14-0 lead with 9:48 left in the first half.
"We feel that we got our best athlete on the field," Penna said of Smith’s fielding punts. "He wants the ball in his hands and to make plays. We have other personnel that are capable of returning the ball.
"Drew is a championship caliber kid," Penna said. "At crunch time, he wants the ball. We always wants to win and he works hard."

The final score came with 4:52 left in the second quarter.

The Dutch recovered another fumble later in the second stanza as Devan Van Auken recovered a fumble by the Albany quarterback. Guilderland moved the ball to the 47-yard line of Albany.

On the next play, Smith took the snap and, in a play similar to his last long run, he ran up the middle and broke tackles before finding pay dirt and giving the Dutch a 20-0 lead. The extra-point kick was blocked.
"That run was a designed play," Penna said. "If the middle is wide open, the quarterback and center go. It was a big run, and we designed a lot of run plays to find seams in the defense."

Neither team scored the rest of the way. Both defenses played well, but Guilderland could not take advantage of three more Albany turnovers.

After Guilderland made it 20-0, Albany fumbled the ensuing kick-off. The Dutchmen recovered at the Albany 32-yard line, but could not score.

Smith just missed hitting Nick Ranalli with a pass in the end zone on first down, and then the Dutch lost yards on the next two plays and had to punt.
"Ranalli’s got like 4.4 [second] speed," Smith said. "I threw a pretty good ball. I wanted to show that we have a passing game, and that I am a double threat."

Guilderland also got an interception from Jesse Lutz in the fourth quarter. Parker Wolfe recovered a fumble in the second quarter after Paul Malamood knocked the ball out of an Albany runner’s hands.
"The four fumble recoveries were huge," Penna said. "It’s great to get turnovers. We had them go against us a lot of times. I’m proud of how we came up with those opportunities."

Smith finished the game with 118 yards rushing and no yards passing. Booker rushed for 66 yards for the Dutchmen.

"A lot of potential"
"I was really pleased overall," Penna said after the game. "We were physical for most of the game and we knocked heads for four quarters. Albany has a lot of speed and at times they got big plays.
"We showed our youth tonight," Penna added. "We didn’t adjust to different formations and we shot ourselves in the foot. We executed somewhat on offense and showed that we had big-play kids. But to be where we want to be, which is a championship contender, we really need to clean up our mistakes."

The Dutchmen did a good job of limiting Albany’s offense.
"They run the option and they have quick backs," Penna said. "We had to make sure we had quick pursuit and to break down when we were tackling. Overall, we did well. I was surprised we shut them out. If you were to say we would win by 20, I’d say we would win 40-20.
"Jesse made a big interception and almost had another one," Penna added. "Pete Stanish had another big game and Joe Cardillo at end was strong."

Penna is now looking for consistency for four quarters. He is confident it will come.
"We had first game jitters," the coach said. "We settled down in the second quarter and in the third we were flat. In the fourth, we picked it back up."

The Dutchmen travel to Queensbury on Saturday. Kick-off is at 1:30.
"The paper ranked teams and we were pretty high," Smith said. "But that is not good enough for us. We have a lot of potential. And I don’t know how anyone can stop us as long as we keep working and getting better"
"This is really big," Smith added of Friday’s win. "Last year, we made the playoffs, but we want to make a run."

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