Guilderland pulls out a last-minute victory

The Enterprise — Jordan J. Michael

Broken play: The football deflects to the left after Ballston Spa’s Sam Groves, left, got his hand on a pass intended for Guilderland’s Micaiah Henningham during the first quarter of last Friday’s Class AA game. The Dutch were down seven points in the fourth quarter, but won, 28 to 21. Henningham had 31 rushing yards.

The Enterprise — Jordan J. Michael

A lot to handle: The Guilderland football team had another tough game against Ballston Spa on the road last Friday, and the team pulled out a 28-to-21 victory after two scores in the fourth quarter. Here, Michael Lia (#80) makes a tackle for the Dutch defense. Senior Frank Gallo had 322 passing yards and three touchdowns for Guilderland.

The Enterprise — Jordan J. Michael

Flattened: The Dutch defense was tough last Friday in Ballston Spa, but Guilderland had to use its offense for the 28-to-21-comeback victory. For the Dutchmen, Brad Johnston had 77 yards receiving and a touchdown; Zach Formica had 94 yards receiving and a touchdown; and Joe Cornell had a 92-yard catch and run for a touchdown.

BALLSTON SPA — The Guilderland football team isn’t a traveling magic show, but it pulled a few rabbits out of a hat last Friday.

Those two speedy players, Joe Cornell and Brad Johnston, had touchdown catches of 92 yards and 48 yards, respectively, during the tail end of the fourth quarter to give the Dutchmen a 28-to-21 victory on the road in Ballston Spa.

As far as season-opening games go, it was one of the better offerings. Recently, Guilderland and Ballston Spa don’t know how to play a loose game.

“I don’t know, everyone was cramping up,” said senior Micaiah Henningham, who made a perfect block on Johnston’s game-winning score with 28 seconds left. “Everyone was down, but we fought through it.”

“We stepped up to the plate,” Cornell added, smiling wide.

He runs track in the spring months, and judging by his long scamper down the sidelines to tie the game at 21 to 21, he’s good to go for his senior campaign. Dutch quarterback Frank Gallo, who threw for 322 yards, found Cornell wide open after checking down on his read.

“I don’t even know what happened,” said Cornell, who made a few Scotties’ players miss on the play. “I’m just happy.”

Zach Formica made an amazing dive for Guilderland in pass coverage to break up a Derek Chandler throw, giving the ball back to Guilderland with 1:31 remaining in the game. Then, Henningham hauled in a pass from Gallo, which was under thrown, to get the Dutch into Scotties territory.

Next, Guilderland pulled heroics, winning the game in comeback style.

Dutch Head Coach Dan Penna said that his team is “turning a corner.” Guilderland spins small plays into big gains.

“It’s tough because we’re always playing a good team,” Penna said of the Class AA opposition. “You realize that games can be easily won or lost. You have to play until the end. The game is not over until the clock hits zero.”

It may be somewhat cliché, but Guilderland operates play-by-play. The team never looks ahead, and never looks back.

Will such a special comeback make for a special season for the Dutch?

“We’ll find out, but we always appreciate players who come out here and work,” Penna said. “This team wants to re-orient itself with a new type of season — really making a run.”

Penna was proud of Guilderland’s attitude to win, and was not surprised by those two huge plays at the end.

“They never fail to impress me,” he said of his players. “It gives them confidence in what they’re doing, and incentive to make themselves better.”

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