WARRENSBURG — It is the start no coach wants.
Warrensburg lined up to receive the opening kickoff against Class D football opponent Fort Edward and the Flying Forts pulled a fast one.
Kicker Will Denton sent a pooch kick into the air to a Burghers returner, who fumbled and the ball was recovered by Fort Edward.
The Forts picked up a couple of first downs but faced a fourth down in Warrensburg territory. Hoping to capitalize on momentum, Fort Edward went for it, but failed.
That was the last legitimate shot the Forts would get at a scoring drive until late in the third quarter.
In between, Warrensburg recorded more than 300 total yards while scoring on six of its seven possessions in a 44-6 win Saturday at Warrensburg High School.
“We kind of thought they’d come out with an onside or something, so we prepared for it,” said Burghers head coach Mike Perrone, whose team improved to 2-0 in Class D, 2-1 overall. “But it bounced off our guy’s hands.
“I was proud of the resiliency these guys had to keep them out of the end zone on that opening drive,” Perrone added. “That has always been the knock here for us. In the past, Warrensburg folded. But we made that stand and went the length of the field to score. It set the tempo and showed we are a resilient group.”
Burghers quarterback Evan MacDuff had his way with the Forts’ defense. He accounted for three total touchdowns, nearly 100 yards of offense and most importantly, got the ball to his playmakers in space.
Running back Jesse Griffin popped for 118 yards rushing. The bulk of it came on a 44-yard touchdown run with two minutes remaining in the second quarter, putting Warrensburg up 28-0 at half.
Things got a little better for the Forts in the third.
After forcing a turnover on downs, Fort Edward (0-2, 0-3) pieced together a 10-play touchdown drive capped by a 1-yard Colby Phillips rush with seconds remaining.
Forts running back Brody Sullivan did most the work on Fort Edward’s lone scoring drive. He carried it nine times before Phillips capitalized.
“Our motto here is bend but don’t break. No one wants to let a lot of yards put up on them, but the final scoreboard is all that matters,” Perrone said. “When you get to (the red zone) it is time to hunker down and bend but don’t break.”
Though the Burghers broke just once, it was enough of a wakeup call for MacDuff.
On Warrensburg’s next possession, he was ready to put the dagger in Fort Edward. The 6-foot-3 signal-caller connected with freshman Dylan Winchell on a 52-yard vertical route for the game-breaking score.
Winchell, a dynamic playmaker, finished with 127 total yards and two touchdowns, on only four touches.
“Dylan is a crazy athlete. The crazier thing is that he is only in ninth grade,” MacDuff said. “He is a threat downfield catching the ball and to the outside running the ball. At some point, he is going to be a great defender too.”
Warrensburg 44, Fort Edward 6
Fort Edward (0-3) 0 0 6 0 — 6
Warrensburg (2-1) 6 22 0 16 — 44
War — MacDuff 7 run (conversion failed), 1:55
War — Winchell 3 run (Bailey run), 11:25
War — MacDuff 3 run (MacDuff run), 7:07
War — Je. Griffin 44 run (conversion failed), 2:22
FE — Phillips 1 run (conversion failed), :33
War — Winchell 52 pass from MacDuff (Je.Griffin pass from MacDuff), 9:58
War — Carpenter 1 run (Bailey pass from MacDuff), 1:22
RUSHING — Warrensburg: Je.Griffin 9-118 TD, Baker 6-27, Winchell 3-75 TD, MacDuff 5-13 2TD. Fort Edward: Catone 6-12, Edwards 4-9, C.Sullivan 12-35, B.Sullivan 13-60, Phillips 1-1 TD.
PASSING — Warrensburg: MacDuff 3-5-0, 75 yards, 1TD. Fort Edward: Phillips 4-9-1, 21 yards.
RECEIVING — Warrensburg: Bailey 1-20, Griffin 1-3, Winchell 1-52 TD. Fort Edward: Sullivan 3-14, Bombard 1-7.