CLINTONVILLE — Hoosick Falls’ rugged, smash mouth defense proved to be better than advertised.
Following a 6-0 Saranac Lake lead at halftime, the Panthers (11-0) were able to hold the Red Storm (10-1) to 116 yards of total offense and bounce back for 20 points in the second half for a 20-12 NYSPHSAA Class C regional victory Saturday.
“In the first half, there might have been some frustration because we didn’t make some plays that we normally do,” Hoosick Falls head coach Ron Jones said. “Halftime was good because we refocused. We held (Saranac Lake) to 12 points and won first and second down on a number of occasions. We were bending, but didn’t break against their short passing game.”
Saranac Lake had an average starting field position of their own 24-yard line in the second half and were unable to generate any offensive output on the ground, mustering 36 rushing yards.
“We just couldn’t run the ball and that was as stout a run defense that we’ve played,” Saranac Lake head coach Eric Bennett said following the eight-point loss. “(Hoosick Falls) made us go to the air and they covered the pass pretty well. Whenever you can take away what a team wants to do, you’re going to be successful and they certainly did that.
“That’s football. We couldn’t move the ball and we had an opportunity, but they caught fire a little bit and scored. It is what it is.”
Brad Burns, a 1,600-yard rusher in Section II this season, was held to 31 yards on nine carries in the first half. However, the senior was able score on three occasions and rack up 114 yards in the final 24 minutes of play.
“I think anytime you have a dynamic, strong back like that, he’s going to take his toll on your defense as the game wears on,” Bennett said. “I think he’s used to getting his yards in the first half. But he was very effective in the third and fourth quarter in terms of wearing down our defense and getting tough yards. I’m sure their game plan worked exactly like they wanted it to and they came out with a victory.”