Oct 28, 2008 Phil Blackwell Uncategorized
Just when it was needed, the Bishop Ludden football team came up with the single big play it needed to keep both its win streak, and its chance to repeat at state Class C champions, alive.
The Gaelic Knights’ 28-14 victory over Adirondack in last Friday’s opening round of the Class C playoffs in Geddes was the team’s 20th consecutive vicotry. Yet it also was a game where the score did not reflect the danger Ludden faced right to the end.
Due to an inability to hang on to the ball, Ludden only led, 14-7, when Adirondack took the ball on its own 30-yard line with 2:04 left.
Attempting to avenge close playoff defeats to the Gaelic Knights each of the last two seasons, the Wildcats steadily moved the ball down the field, all the way to Ludden’s two-yard line, as the clock ticked down.
A couple of more yards, and Adirondack would have the chance to tie the game, or maybe even go for two points and the win. It would get neither.
Scott Dunlap took a handoff and went into the line. As he tried to break loose from the Ludden defenders, the ball came out, a fumble came out and bounced away from Dunlap’s reach.
The ball came right to Gaelic Knights defensive back Rick Montgomery at the three-yard line. With nothing but green grass in front of him, Montgomery took off, never stopping until he was in the other end zone 97 yards away for a game-clinching touchdown with 29 seconds left.
While Ludden carried its own win streak into the game, Adirondack was hot, too, having won five in a row to overcome an 0-2 start, never scoring less than 25 points in any of those victories.
On its way to a perfect regular season, Ludden had rarely trailed all season, but did so again when the Wildcats seized a 7-0 lead in the first quarter on Matt O’Rourke’s 11-yard touchdown run.
Not troubled by this, the Gaelic Knights struck right back, mostly using Omar Osbourne’s runs to move to the eight-yard line before quaterback John Rooney found Nick Familo in the end zone. That, plus a Chris Davis extra point, made it 7-7.
Throughout the second quarter, Ludden’s quick and aggressive defense clamped down, keeping Adirondack from finding much space.
Meanwhile, Osbourne, fighting through back pain stemming from an early-game hit, would get his lone TD of the night on a one-yard plunge in the second quarter.
Up 14-7 at the half, Ludden knew that Osbourne (who had 117 yards on 15 carries) might not have the explosive ability he had enjoyed so much during the season, so others had to step up.
That included Rooney, who ran 25 yards for a TD early in the third quarter, part of a night where he picked up 83 yards on the ground to go with six-of-nine passing for 106 yards.
Up 21-7, Ludden looked like it would get away, but a series of turnovers allowed Adirondack to hang around, then cut the deficit in half when Matt Pfendler scored from one yard out late in the third quarter.
Once again, the Gaelic Knights’ defense would respond, holding the Wildcats at bay the rest of the night, including that final play that proved so decisive.
This sets up an epic Class C semifinal Friday when the Gaelic Knights meet Cazenovia at Cicero-North Syracuse’s Bragman Stadium at 5 p.m. It marks a rare case where two reigning sectional champions get to meet.
Cazenovia won the last two Class B championships in 2006 and ’07, only to get moved down to Class C this fall by enrollment changes. Once there, and despite a heavy roster turnover, the Lakers have gone 7-1, its only blemish a 23-20 loss to Westmoreland.
In its opening-round game, Cazenovia beat Thousand Islands 21-7, displaying a defense that will thoroughly test Ludden’s big-play ability. That clash will be key to whether the Gaelic Knights advance to next Saturday’s Class C final at the Carrier Dome against Westmoreland or Herkimer.