While an undefeated regular season and a Class D West regular-season title was satisfying, the Bishop Ludden football team knew that much bigger goals still lay ahead.
And the Gaelic Knights started going after them in the first quarter of Friday night’s Section III playoff game, blitzing Waterville with 35 first-quarter points and cruising to a 49-21 victory over the Indians.
It provided quite a contrast with Ludden’s tense 12-6 victory over Onondaga the week before, a game where the Gaelic Knights didn’t get on the board until the second half.
Here, it took two possessions for Ludden to convert, Ze’Vion Derby scoring on a 26-yard run and Sh’ikem Lee throwing a two-point pass to Se’vaughn Williams.
Less than two minutes later, it was 16-0, Tamir Rowser’s interception setting up Lee’s 39-yard touchdown pass to Williams, who also scored the two-pointer.
Steve Tussing’s block of a Waterville punt set up a third TD, again Lee finding Williams on a 28-yard pass. A Waterville fumble was pounced on by Dan Cacchione, setting up Derby’s 30-yard scoring run, and the defense joined in the fun when Lee recovered an Indians fumble and returned it 39 yards for six points.
Those 35 points were scored in a span of four minutes, and the rest of the game proved academic, though Lee would add a one-yard TD run and then throw a 49-yard TD pass to Joe Connor.
In next Friday’s sectional Class D semifinal at Fayetteville-Manlius, Ludden will face Sauquoit Valley, who fought past Mount Markham 12-6, with the winner advancing to the Nov. 3 sectional final at the Carrier Dome against Dolgeville or Onondaga. The Gaelic Knights and Indians kick off at 5 p.m.
Jordan-Elbridge had the same sectional title dreams in Class C and was home at John Howes Stadium for its opening-round game against Sherburne-Earlville, but the Eagles could not put things together, taking a 31-19 loss to the Marauders.
S-E never trailed, taking the opening kickoff and marching down the field 70 yards in 10 plays, using nearly five minutes of clock before Vincent Albertina scored on a five-yard run.
Responding quickly, the Eagles took less than a minute to go 61 yards, most of it covered by Jeremiah Sparks as he took a Dominic Walborn short pass from the Marauders’ 41 and went the rest of the way for the TD.
Before the first quarter was done, though, Albertina had scored again, this time on a one-yard plunge, so J-E trailed 15-7 and would spend the rest of the night trying to catch up.
A successful fake punt set up an Eagles scoring drive, Hunter Brunelle going the final two yards for the TD, but missed a tying two-point try. S-E tried to add to its lead, but Brunelle’s interception near the goal line kept the margin at 15-13 going to the break.
The Marauders continued to lean on its ground game, wearing J-E’s defense down. Albertina’s third TD, on a 15-yard run, was followed by Lincoln Owen breaking loose on a 61-yard dash to the end zone.
Suddenly, the Eagles’ deficit was 31-13, and things got bleaker when Walborn exited the game in the fourth quarter with an injury. J-E didn’t surrender, Sparks throwing a 28-yard TD pass to Brunelle, but the Marauders advanced to a sectional semifinal against General Brown, while the Eagles fell to 5-3.