CLIFTON PARK — Asked to put a letter grade on Friday night’s state Class B quarterfinal victory, Glens Falls defensive end David Barclay thought for a moment.
The Indians overcame wet conditions, their own penalties and a scrappy Beekmantown football team to earn a 21-7 victory at Shenendehowa High School.
“It’s a W,” the junior said. “Defense, definitely an A-plus. Our offense, we did the best we could in these rainy conditions — it’s hard out there, but (penalties) killed us. It’s hard to put a letter grade on it.”
Even an uneven performance sent Glens Falls (9-2) on to its next goal — the state semifinals against either Marlboro or Ardsley, set for next Saturday at 3 p.m. at Middletown High School. The Indians, state champs in 2016, hope to erase the memory of last year’s state semifinal exit.
“This game you tend to look ahead a little bit, so this is always a trap game and you’re always worried about it,” Glens Falls head coach Pat Lilac said. “And we know the teams that come down from up (north) are going to be scrappy, really tough teams, and that’s what they were. It was exactly what we expected.”
While nine penalties — several of the 15-yard variety — were a problem, the Indians’ defense and senior quarterback Joseph Girard III were outstanding. Glens Falls held Beekmantown to 20 yards in the first half, 140 for the game.
Offensively, Girard completed 21 of 35 passes for 286 yards, two touchdowns and an interception, and rushed for 88 yards. Aalijah Sampson added 102 yards and a touchdown on 12 rushes. The Indians rolled up 494 total yards in the game.
“Defense was our anchor tonight — it’s the only reason we were in this game,” senior linebacker Kyle Vachon said. “Our offense in the first half couldn’t get going, our offensive line couldn’t buy Joe time, penalties killed us, too. But Joe kept bailing us out again and again.”
Despite a huge advantage in time of possession in the first half, the Indians held a 7-0 halftime lead after scoring on their opening drive, on an 18-yard pass from Girard to Hogan Fox.
Glens Falls’ other four first-half trips into the red zone ended with two missed field goals, an interception and a turnover on downs.
“It’s a huge frustration, but you can’t prepare for weather like this,” Joseph Girard said.
“Just settle down — instead of trying to score every single play, settle down and take the underneath stuff and go from there,” Lilac said he told his offense at halftime. “We shot ourselves in the foot with all the darn penalties.”
Glens Falls got the ball to start the second half, and drove 73 yards in six plays, capped by a 14-yard touchdown strike from Girard to Fox in the end zone.
“We seemed to be moving the ball pretty good, but then there’s a block in the back or a hold or something,” Lilac said. “So I think we cleaned some of that stuff up and came out that first drive of the second half and instead of trying to get it all in one play, we started to hit some of those short passes and it kind of opened up our offense and we were a little more crisp.”
“We knew we needed to score right away — if we didn’t we might be in some trouble,” said Vachon, who also plays offensive tackle. “But we came out guns blazing — that was huge, that was another momentum changer for us, it gives our defense confidence because now we have room to play with.”
After the Indians missed a third field goal attempt late in the third quarter, Beekmantown (8-2) drove 91 yards in 12 plays to its only score. Cade Preston found William Colvard behind coverage for a 21-yard touchdown pass to pull the Eagles within 14-7 early in the fourth quarter.
But Glens Falls put the game away with a final 75-yard scoring drive, sparked by a 44-yard run by Sampson to set up his own 1-yard touchdown plunge with 4:34 to play.
Trent Girard sealed victory with an interception late.
“Our defense is playing outstanding,” Barclay said. “We just need to keep the intensity, focus and we’ll be right where we want to be.”
Class B State Quarterfinal
Beekmantown (8-2) 0 0 0 7 — 7
Glens Falls (9-2) 7 0 7 7 — 21
GF — Fox 18 pass from J. Girard (Hogan kick), 8:29
GF — Fox 14 pass from J. Girard (Hogan kick), 9:20
B — Colvard 21 pass from Preston (Trudeau kick), 9:47
GF — Sampson 1 run (Hogan kick), 4:34
RUSHING — Beekmantown: Maldonado 5-28, Moura 8-15, Belrose 3-5, LaValley 1-1, Preston 8-(-7). Glens Falls: Sampson 12-102 1TD, J.Girard 12-88, Montgomery 6-18.
PASSING — Beekmantown: Preston 6-15-1, 93 yards, 1TD. Glens Falls: J.Girard 21-35-1, 286 yards, 2TD.
RECEIVING — Beekmantown: Dixon 2-37, Colvard 2-29 1TD, B.Belrose 1-7, J.Belrose 1-3. Glens Falls: Fox 7-92, Barclay 5-41, Fox 5-69 2TD, Sampson 3-32, Quirk 1-44.
MISSED FIELD GOALS — Glens Falls, Hogan 22, 46, 26.