Dutchmen motto You gotta have heart


That is what made the difference for the Guilderland football team between staying unbeaten or losing its first game of the season.

Trailing at halftime, the Dutchmen overcame their deficit by playing their hearts out in the second half and beating Christian Brothers Academy, 21-14, in Colonie on Thursday night.
"We felt the adversity in the first half," said senior Paul Booker. "In the second half, we knew what we had to do.
"We played with heart," Booker added. "We talked about who wanted it at halftime. And, in the third quarter, we came out and got the win."
"This is a gutsy win," said Guilderland Coach Dan Penna. "I’m proud of how the team responded in the second half. There were no schematic adjustments. We talked to the kids about this being their season. They came out in the second half and played hard."

And, for the first time in a very long time, Guilderland is 4-0. For the second year in a row, the Dutch will be in the playoffs; this is the earliest Guilderland has ever clinched a spot.

"At halftime I felt terrible," said senior quarterback Drew Smith. "I felt like I failed the team. In the first half, I played terrible; I wasn’t playing like myself. I felt like I let down the team. I’m the leader of this team and the catalyst. I have to make things go, and I wasn’t doing that. But we were able to get it together and get the win."

The Dutchmen trailed, 14-7, at halftime with CBA getting the second-half kickoff.

Guilderland held CBA on its first two possessions of the third quarter, forcing punts both times.

After the second punt, Guilderland got the ball in good field position at the CBA 45-yard line.

After an incomplete pass by senior quarterback Drew Smith, Booker picked up five yards on a run.

On third down and five yards to go for a first down, Smith and Booker connected on a screen pass, a pass behind the line of scrimmage. Booker followed his blockers and picked up 25 yards to the first down and put the Dutchmen at the CBA 15-yard line.
"That is a play we put in this week," Booker said. "It’s a kind of play we’ll use more."

Smith then picked up seven yards on a run and Booker followed with a four-yard gain to put Guilderland on the CBA four-yard line.

Booker tied the game with a four-yard run for the Dutch. E.J. Genzano kicked the extra point and the score was 14-14 with 4:03 left in the third quarter.

The third quarter would end with the score tied and set up an interesting fourth and final frame.

Hard-fought victory

Guilderland had forced the Brothers to punt as the third stanza was near its end.

Two Booker runs set up a third and short, as the quarter came.

Jason Lawrence picked up the first down on a one-yard run that put the ball on the CBA 45-yard line.

Booker picked up five more yards on a run, and then Smith completed a pass to tight end Paul Malamood for a big gain.

The 25-yard pass play moved the ball to the CBA 15-yard line. Booker had a six-yard run and Smith picked up one yard on a run to put the ball on the eight-yard line.

Booker than ran off tackle for the final eight yards into the end zone, to give the Dutch the lead.

Genzano booted the extra point, and the score was 21-14 with 8:56 left in the game.

CBA got the ball back and went for it on fourth down but a pass was dropped by a wide-open receiver and the Dutchmen dodged a bullet.

Guilderland punted on its next possession and CBA moved the ball down the field.

On the second play of the drive, the Brothers got a big pass play. Junior quarterback Andrew Vivian pitched the ball to running back Jack Reilly who then threw the ball to Nico Neri for a 36-yard gain, putting the ball on the Guilderland 31-yard line.

Reilly picked up 11 yards on a run to move the ball to the 20 and give the Brothers a first down.

The Brothers lost five yards on first down as senior linebacker Pete Stanish made a big tackle on a run by Reilly.

Then after two incomplete passes with the clock ticking, CBA had a fourth and 15 from the Guilderland 25-yard line.

Vivian rolled out to pass and just overthrew a receiver in the middle of the field. But a flag was thrown and a Dutchmen defender was called for pass interference, the call drew the ire of the Guilderland fans.

The Brothers got the ball on the Dutchmen 13-yard line and had a new set of downs. Reilly picked up five yards on two runs, and then the third down pass fell incomplete.

Vivian then rolled out to pass again on fourth down and fired a ball over an open receiver in the back of the end zone and CBA turned the ball over on downs.

Guilderland ran out the clock and escaped CBA’s campus with a hard-fought, one-touchdown victory.

First-half scoring

Guilderland scored first in the contest. The Dutch took the opening kickoff and drove the ball down the field behind the running of Booker and Lawrence.

Booker scored his first of three touchdowns, this one from four yards out, to give the Dutchmen the early lead. Genzano kicked the extra point to make it 7-0 with 8:04 left in the opening quarter.
"It was a great drive," Penna said. "Sometimes we make it look too easy, when we drive the ball like that. But we let down in the second quarter. We had some holes and they got two receiving touchdowns."

CBA came right back on its first play from scrimmage. Vivian rolled out and completed a big pass to Neri that moved the ball from the Brothers’ own 32-yard line to the Guilderland 30-yard line.

CBA continued to take advantage of holes in the Guilderland pass coverage as Vivian completed a nice pass to Jafar Johnson for a 25-yard touchdown pass.

The Brothers took the lead on the first play of the second quarter. They moved the ball to the Guilderland four-yard line before Vivian connected with Justin Marini.

And, with the extra-point kick, CBA led 14-7 with 11:53 left in the second quarter.
"CBA gave us everything they have," Penna said. "They are a good football team and they proved it tonight. We punched first, but they came back with a counter-punch.
"We knew we were in for a good football game," Penna added. "They did a heck of a job; it is remarkable that they started 0-2. They are a much different football team. They’ve put it together."

"We are going to keep working"

The Dutchmen now face the heart of their schedule and will play some tough teams. They travel to Ballston Spa on Friday for a match-up with the 3-1 Scotties. After that, the Dutch host Saratoga for homecoming and then they close out the regular season with a game in Clifton Park against fellow unbeaten Shenendehowa.

The gutsy win last Thursday gives Guilderland at least one more game after the regular season.
"Getting to 4-0 and locking up a playoff spot so quick is huge," Booker said.
"This is the type of win that is good as we prepare for the playoffs," Penna said. "This is the first time we trailed at halftime. The kids dug deep to get this win. This is a great learning game for us."
"This is the first time in forever we started 4-0," Smith said. "I prayed every day. Before school, I pray for this team. Everybody has come together and this is the earliest we clinched a playoff spot"
"Guilderland still doesn’t get a lot of respect," Smith added. "They know we have athletes, but we want to show them that we’re more than that. Obviously, going 4-0 is a big step, but we want to go to the Section II Super Bowl. And we are not going to be happy until that happens. We are going to keep working."

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