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Cambridge-Salem rallies to win quarterfinal

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Football: Cambridge-Salem vs. Alexander

A Cambridge-Salem player gains some yards as snow falls during Sunday's Class D state quarterfinal football game at Broadalbin-Perth High School.

BROADALBIN — Everyone will remember the bitter, bone-chilling cold that sliced through every layer of clothing. And the snow that came late in the game.

But it was the wind that mattered, a wind that blew steadily from one end of the field to the other, blasted in the faces of quarterbacks and made punting an exercise in futility. A wind that was trying to end someone’s season.

Cambridge-Salem played into that wind early on at Broadalbin-Perth and struggled. But in the end, C-S survived the wind and won Sunday’s state football quarterfinal against Alexander, 12-7.

Cambridge-Salem (12-0) advanced to face Moriah (8-1) in the Class D state semifinals on Friday at Middletown High School (3 p.m.).

C-S went nowhere on its first series and tried a punt that didn’t go very far, because no punt was going very far into that wind. Alexander quickly took a 7-0 lead on Trent Woods’ 37-yard pass to Christian Kissell.

Things didn’t go very well on Cambridge-Salem’s second possession, either, but the Trojans (9-2) were hurt by a fumble and the quarter ended without another touchdown.

“We made some mistakes early, and the wind … it just made things hard,” Cambridge-Salem head coach Doug Luke said. “A little momentum change when we got the wind at our back in the second quarter, and then we kind of played the game. We got field position.”

Cambridge-Salem finished off a long drive with Brice Burr’s 7-yard touchdown run, though a failed conversion left the lead with Alexander. Cambridge-Salem started to look like the team that won the Section II title a week ago.

“We weren’t really pumped up coming out,” running back Evan Day said. “It was freezing cold, I couldn’t feel anything; I don’t think anyone else could. But once the wheels started turning, we started screaming at each other … Once something goes right for us, we just keep going, like a bus that doesn’t stop.”

Not that it was easy after that. Nothing was easy with the wind blowing at B-P.

Cambridge-Salem survived the third quarter against the wind — the first Alexander possession ended with a punt and the second ended on a fumble. C-S drove the field and scored on a 4-yard run by Day at the start of the fourth quarter.

Cambridge-Salem scores the go-ahead touchdown in Sunday's win.

“The beginning of the third quarter was the key to the game,” Luke said, “when we held them on the first series of the second half, and we held them on the (wind-aided) side of the field. Then we just tried to play a little field position.”

Cambridge-Salem later made an interception, but still, Alexander had a chance to drive in the final minutes. A dropped pass that was ruled a fumble ended that drive.

Quarterback Stephen Yakubec passed for 81 yards, including a completion early in the second quarter that seemed to open things up. Day was the leading rusher with 58 yards.

So there were no big numbers on the stat sheet after this one. It was the right plays at the right time that won it.

“We waited and waited and hoped we could get through that first quarter,” Luke said, “and we felt pretty good with ourselves down only 7-0 after the first quarter. The third quarter was the same way; we just wanted to escape that third quarter.”

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