OGDENSBURG — On the bitterest of cold nights, the Glens Falls football team somehow survived every haymaker Gouverneur threw at them — and there were some doozies.
The Indians came up with one final stop in the final minute — halting Wildcats quarterback Connor Fenlong on a potential game-tying two-point conversion — to escape with a 28-26 Class B state quarterfinal victory Friday night.
With the win on a night of single-digit wind chill, top-ranked Glens Falls (11-0) advances to play Section I champ Pleasantville in the state semifinals a week from Saturday at Middletown High School (3 p.m.). It will be a rematch of last year’s state semis, won by Glens Falls.
“Time after time, when their backs are up against the wall, they make big plays — and they did it again tonight,” said Glens Falls head coach Pat Lilac, whose team won its 24th straight game. “The people we’ve been leaning on keep coming up big.”
This time it was David Barclay and Dakota Trombley, teaming up to throw Fenlong backward on the decisive two-point conversion — which came after Fenlong’s second touchdown run in the final 2:15 of regulation.
“They ran that play all game, and I read it — I got off the tight end and just crashed in, got hold of his legs, and me and Dakota wrapped him up,” said Barclay, a sophomore. “After No. 12 (Garrison Gonyeau) caught that pass over me (to set up the touchdown), I knew I had to make a play there.”
After that stop with 48 seconds to play, Kyle Vachon recovered the onsides kick for the second time in two minutes, and the Indians kneeled out the victory.
Junior quarterback Joseph Girard III noted that the two-point conversion stop was similar to how the Indians won their state championship last season against Chenango Forks.
“It comes down to who wants it more at the end,” said Girard, who passed for 111 yards and a touchdown and earned Glens Falls’ defensive player of the game honors. “They did a good job blocking, they were big up front, but we always say, ‘When the going gets too tough, it’s just right for us.’”
Senior Aaron Sampson, who led all rushers with 183 yards and two touchdowns on 26 carries, earned offensive player of the game honors for Glens Falls. His 46-yard touchdown run with 1:55 remaining provided an answer to Fenlong’s first touchdown that had pulled the Wildcats (10-1) within 21-20.
“That was all Glens Falls toughness at the end,” Sampson said. “The line stepped up in the second half when we needed it.”
For the second straight game, the Indians got off to a slow start, as Fenlong launched touchdown passes of 80 and 85 yards to Peyton Schmitt for a 12-0 first-half lead.
“Gouverneur came out and got us on our heels early, but we came back,” Sampson said. “It’s not the first time we’ve been down this year, nobody was panicking — it’s not our first rodeo.”
The Indians took the lead early in the third quarter on Sampson 7-yard touchdown run, then Girard found his cousin Quinn Girard for a 5-yard touchdown for a 21-12 lead early in the fourth.
Fenlong finished with 137 yards on 29 carries and passed for 238 yards, but he really carried his team when Schmitt, the standout running back, aggravated a back injury and left the game with 10 minutes to play.
“After 44 (Schmitt) left the game, they rode 11’s (Fenlong’s) shoulders, so we knew he would keep the ball at the end,” Lilac said. “And our kids came up with the big play.”
Class B Quarterfinal
Glens Falls (11-0) 0 7 7 14 — 28
Gouverneur (10-1) 6 6 0 14 — 26
Gouv — Schmitt 80 pass from Fenlong (run failed), :48
Gouv — Schmitt 85 pass from Fenlong (run failed), 5:17
GF — J. Girard 10 run (Hogan kick), 1:31
GF — Aar. Sampson 7 run (Hogan kick), 8:30
GF — Q. Girard 5 pass from J. Girard (Hogan kick), 11:29
Gouv — Fenlong 1 run (Fenlong run), 2:15
GF — Aar. Sampson 46 run (Hogan kick), 1:55
Gouv — Fenlong 5 run (run failed), :48
RUSHING — Glens Falls: Aar.Sampson 26-183 2TD, J.Girard 12-64 1TD, Aal.Sampson 3-24. Gouverneur: Fenlong 29-137 2TD, Schmitt 8-56, Gonyeau 3-20, Fuller 1-1.
PASSING — Glens Falls: J.Girard 7-12-1, 111 yards, 1TD. Gouverneur: Fenlong 6-18-1, 238 yards, 2TD.
RECEIVING — Glens Falls: Q.Girard 5-93 1TD, Balcom 2-18. Gouverneur: Schmitt 4-184 2TD, LaPlant 1-52, Gonyeau 1-2.
Follow Pete Tobey on Twitter @PTobeyPSVarsity and check out his blogs on poststar.com.