Guilderland football starts slow and ends fast to beat ABC 17-7

GUILDERLAND CENTER — Two turnovers on their first two offensive possessions isn’t exactly a formula for success, but that’s what happened for the Guilderland football team on Friday night. Instead of withering away, the Dutch dug deep and overcame their early struggles against Christian Brothers Academy.

With the game very much up for grabs at the start of the fourth quarter, Guilderland became the error-forcing team. The Dutch used a 68-yard passing play from quarterback Ty Santabarbara to Dillon Blanchard on the final play of the third quarter to set up a 1-yard TD dive by Santabarbara. Blanchard then added a 28-yard field goal and Aidan Chrysler’s second interception in the second half put the finishing touches to a 17-7 Class AA victory.

“As a unit, we just locked together and shut it down,” Chrysler said. “They have next to nothing on us.”

“In a good heavyweight match, we knew we were going to lose battles,” Guilderland coach Dan Penna said. “We won the battles we needed to achieve victory.”

On a night when both teams’ attacking units produced little, it was how quickly Guilderland earned their two defensive turnovers, ill-timed penalties against the CBA and an incredible save by Guilderland punter Mitch Mackissock who helped the Dutch (5-2 overall, 4-2 Class AA) secure a playoff spot.

With the game tied at 7 late in the third quarter, Mackissock lined up for a punt near his end zone. The snap bounced off the senior. He picked it up, dodged a tackle that would have resulted in a safety and dodged two more tackle attempts on his way to land a first down on the 20. With possession upheld, Santabarbara finished the third quarter with a swing pass at Blanchard. , who broke three tackles before being brought down at CBA 5.

“At halftime, we had both turnovers in the first half and we weren’t in line on their touchdown,” Penna said. “I was really happy with the way we played in the second half. We focused on our work. We stuck with it and made a big play with Blanchard.”

“It was a huge game. It put us in a great position on the court,” Chrysler said. “We took the lead with another touchdown and that basically secured the win.”

Guilderland looked to extend the lead but Santabarbara was stripped of the ball from behind. The brothers, however, turned it over immediately when Chrysler intercepted a pass made by CBA sophomore Donald Jones on the next play.

Facing a fourth-and-one situation on the ensuing drive, Penna decided to send Blanchard for a field goal. After a movement penalty cost the Dutchman five yards, the senior calmly nailed his 28-yard field goal with 3:27 to go.

“It was inches, but we had to take a two possession lead,” Penna said.

The Brothers (5-2, 4-2), now needing two scores, worked the ball up the field, but Chrysler caught a pass overturned by CBA senior quarterback Jack Gregory with 1: 36 remaining to seal the win.

“He made some big plays tonight,” Penna said of Chrysler, who caught a 5-yard touchdown pass from Santabarbara (9-for-12 for 126 yards) with 19 seconds left in the second quarter.

Guilderland received an emotional boost with junior offensive lineman/linebacker Troy Berschwinger on the sideline on Friday to provide support. Three weeks ago, Berschwinger had to undergo emergency surgery to remove part of his colon. Miraculously, the junior might be able to return to play in the playoffs.

“I didn’t think I would be here when I was lying in the hospital bed,” Berschwinger said. “The (recovery) was faster than expected, but I want to be sure. If I can get back to this pitch, that would be amazing.”

“It’s great to have him back. He’s a key part of this team,” Chrysler said. “Having him back potentially in a few weeks is going to be great.”

A week after suffering a tough 14-12 loss to Shaker, Guilderland overcame the rush for just 47 yards on 32 attempts against the CBA to claim a decisive victory.

“We took the last week and knew we had to put everything in place, lock things down and play together as a group,” Chrysler said. “We had a great week of training.”

“All the hard work we did in the offseason is paying off now,” Berschwinger said. “Winning against one of the top four teams is what we were looking for.”

The CBA are now 0-2 against Class AA playoff teams and will next face Shenendehowa (6-1, 5-1) in a contest they must win to avoid being seeded fourth for the playoffs. .

Both teams were only 1 for 10 on third downs. CBA was penalized eight times for 62 yards. Four times penalties awarded to the Brothers provided early tries for Guilderland.

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