Talent alone did not carry the Bishop Ludden football team to a 26-20 victory over Adirondack in last Saturday's opening round of the Section III Class C playoffs.
Poise, and the ability to make the big play when it needed to, allowed the Gaelic Knights passage through its journey to Boonville.
The issue was in doubt right up until the end, when junior running back Daquan Grobsmith scored on a one-yard touchdown run with eight seconds left in regulation to break a 20-20 tie.
What Ludden fans will long talk about, though, was the drive -- and the big play -- that led to those winning points.
Adirondack had just erased a 20-6 deficit in the fourth quarter, tying the game on Anthony Austin's two-yard TD run and Cody Hitt's two-point conversion, and the home crowd in Boonville was alive, cheering on the Wildcats' defense as Ludden tried to win it.
Here, head coach John Cosgrove made a courageous call. Quarterback Connor Sweeney handed the ball off to Grobsmith, and the Adirondack defense rushed toward him, anticipating a carry.
But Grobsmith stopped, and heaved it deep downfield on the halfback option. Tight end Kerry King got open and grabbed it, going 40 yards deep into Wildcat territory. From there, the Gaelic Knights milked the clock and reached the goal line, where Grobsmith finished it off.
Long before all this, Ludden threatened to get away in the second quarter, when it used 13 unanswered points to build a 20-6 halftime edge.
Grobsmith, who began the scoring with a 10-yard run in the opening period, found the end zone again from 10 yards out, just before Sweeney's one-yard TD sneak. He topped 150 yards on the afternoon, but his passing ability would prove to be the difference.
All this does is set up another long trip for Ludden -- this time to Rome Free Academy Stadium, where it will meet Westmoreland in Friday night's Class C semifinal at 7 p.m.
The Bulldogs are undefeated, at 8-0, having roared through the Class C North division before surviving Herkimer, 22-17, in the opening round. Whoever wins this game goes to the Carrier Dome to face Hannibal or Mount Markham for the Class C championship.