His Braves team had stuck around with Schuylerville throughout Friday’s Section II Class C Super Bowl at Lansingburgh High School, and trailed by just four points nearing the midway point of the fourth quarter.
One stop could change anything.
Then, Schuylerville quarterback Owen Sherman launched a deep pass over the middle. Receiver Ryan Dow came down with it 41 yards downfield in traffic at the Fonda-Fultonville 30-yard line, and the air went completely out of the Braves’ sails.
Seven plays later, Luke Sherman ran in his third touchdown of the game with 3:04 to play, essentially sealing Schuylerville’s 26-16 victory.
“That long pass down the middle just killed us,” Thompson said. “We felt like we had the momentum. That was a huge play in the game.”
Deep passes down the middle of the field fueled the Schuylerville (11-0) attack for most of the night. Owen Sherman wasn’t particulary efficient, completing just 7 of 20 passes against an aggressive Fonda-Fultonville (7-4) defense, but he turned those seven completions into 170 yards.
Four of those passes went to Dow for 104 yards, with another three going to Otto Bolduc for 66 yards, including a spectacular one-handed grab that resulted in a 49-yard touchdown late in the first half.
“We were trying to attack the middle of the field, and then win our one-on-one matchups on the outside,” Owen Sherman said. “The offensive line did a great job in pass [protection] today, zero sacks all day, and our receivers made big-time plays.”
“We had an idea that they were probably going to crank down defensively into the box,” Schuylerville coach John Bowen said.
While Owen Sherman and the Schuylerville passing game provided the big plays, younger brother Luke Sherman wore down the Fonda-Fultonville defense with a heavy dose of off-tackle runs, totaling 115 yards and three touchdowns on 22 carries.
Fonda-Fultonville struggled to produce big plays on offense, with star running back Giovanni DiCaprio and the Braves’ passing attack both held in check for most of the night.
Quarterback Jackson Cusack led the Fonda-Fultonville offense, rushing for 105 yards on 18 carries. He also threw an 8-yard touchdown pass to Brady Melious on the first play of the second quarter, with the resulting two-point conversion getting the Braves out to an 8-0 lead.
Schuylerville responded with 20 points in the last 6:15 of the first half. Luke Sherman barreled into the end zone on runs of 20 and 5 yards, then Owen Sherman connected with Bolduc for a spectacular score with 32 seconds left in the half.
That play came just after a Fonda-Fultonville fake punt was sniffed out at midfield. Regular punter Connor Weaver had been injured the play before, leaving backup Owen Hicks to attempt the kick, which turned into an improvised fake that was stopped for no gain.
“We had our second-string punter in, and he hadn’t had a lot of reps,” Thompson said. “He was supposed to punt the ball, but I don’t know if he bobbled the snap and then decided to run it. That changed the momentum.”
Fonda-Fultonville responded after halftime, eventually making it a one-score game on DiCaprio’s 4-yard touchdown run on the final play of the third quarter. The Braves got the ball back with a chance to take the lead, but stalled near midfield and punted with 8:46 to play.
Ten plays and 5:42 later, Luke Sherman’s third touchdown of the game sealed the deal, sending Schuylerville into the regional tournament against either Section X’s Ogdensburg Free Academy or Section VII’s Saranac Lake next weekend.
“This is what this program’s about: It’s about winning, it’s about working hard, it’s about getting what you deserve,” Owen Sherman said.
For Fonda-Fultonville, Friday’s loss was a tough end to a wild season that saw the team adapt to a constantly-shifting schedule en route to its first Section II Super Bowl appearance in seven years.
“Our kids battled,” Thompson said. “I’m proud of our kids. They kept fighting, and that’s what I expected of them.
“That’s what they’ve done all along.”
F-F — Melious 8 pass from Cusack (Hicks run)
S — L. Sherman 20 run (Run fail)
S — L. Sherman 5 run (Pass fail)
S — Bolduc 49 pass from O. Sherman (Bolduc pass from O. Sherman)
F-F — DiCaprio 4 run (Cusack run)
S — L. Sherman 7 run (Pass fail)