GLENS FALLS — The pass sailed high into the air, arcing toward Brendan Quirk, all alone down the right sideline.
The Glens Falls receiver was wide, wide open — no Hudson Falls defenders within 20 yards of him — and Quirk had to make the catch with every eye at Putt LaMay Memorial Field watching him Saturday.
The ball dropped into his arms and Quirk was off to the end zone, racing to complete a 70-yard touchdown play from Joseph Girard III. The score restored the Indians’ momentum late in the first quarter of their 48-12 Jug Game victory over Hudson Falls on a sweltering Saturday afternoon.
“I kind of lost it in the sun there for a second and had to readjust,” said Quirk, a senior. “To be quite honest, I just stuck my arms out and hoped to catch it. I didn’t think I’d be that wide open, but I just had to make a play on the ball.”
“I think everybody held their breath on that, but he made the play,” said Glens Falls football coach Pat Lilac, whose team improved to 2-0 in Class B North, 3-0 overall as the Indians claimed the red-and-green painted whiskey jug for the fourth straight year.
Quirk’s reception was part of another outstanding performance by Girard, who completed 11 of 15 passes for 303 yards and four touchdowns, and ran for another. Aalijah Sampson, Trent Girard and David Barclay scored on passes of 45, 20 and 65 yards, respectively, in the first half as Glens Falls roared to a 35-6 halftime lead.
“I’m just grateful to get these guys the ball in open space and let them be them,” Joseph Girard said. “All I have to do is give them the ball — a short little route and they turn it into 80-yard touchdowns.”
“That’s what Joe does,” Lilac said. “He continues to make plays and he elevates the play of those around him. That’s what Division I athletes do, and he’s got it upstairs between his ears, too, that competitiveness. That’s a great combination to have with your quarterback.”
Joseph Girard’s long completion to Quirk came at a key point late in the first quarter, just after Hudson Falls had cut the Indians’ lead to 14-6 on Connor Hermanson’s 30-yard fumble return with 3:06 left in the period.
After an incomplete pass, Joseph Girard found Quirk open down the sideline to restore Glens Falls’ two-touchdown lead with 2:36 left.
“I knew it was coming my way right from the second Trent (Girard) had that out route and Joe pump-faked at Trent, and he just saw me open,” Quirk said.
Was Joseph Girard nervous waiting for Quirk to catch his pass?
“Just a little bit,” he said with a laugh. “You always worry about the deep passes into the sun especially, but he did a good job reeling it in and running another, what, 40 yards? If he gets the ball, he’s pretty much gone.”
Glens Falls scored on its first play from scrimmage, as Sampson took a short pass to the end zone. Fewer than five minutes later, Joseph Girard found his cousin, Trent, in the end zone for a 14-0 lead.
“The start was the precursor of bad things to happen,” Tigers head coach Bill Strong said. “We gave them a short field on the very first possession. I was worried about the big play, and they threw a 2-yard pass that turned into a (45)-yard touchdown. That was a microcosm of the game, and then it just went downhill from there.”
Joseph Girard added a 6-yard touchdown run late in the half, and Sampson and Griffin Woodell — another Girard cousin — scored in the third quarter.
For the Tigers (1-1, 2-1), it was another in a series of lopsided losses to Glens Falls. Hudson Falls punted on five of its first six possessions and was held to 229 total yards, evenly split between rushing and passing. Senior quarterback Caleb Condon rushed for 68 yards and a touchdown on 18 carries and passed for another 115 yards.
“We just play different against these guys,” Condon said. “We came out slow. We need to play at a high level of speed like we do against any other team. They’re not 48-12 better than us, but they were better today.”
“The good news is, it’s Week 3,” Strong said. “We’re 2-1, we’ll get it together and play a good game at Lansingburgh next week. We’re going to put this (game) in the rear-view mirror and we’re going to get better from here.”