Friday, November 24, 2017

Senior Panthers Are Super Bowl Champs

November 10, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

 

by Steve Bradley and CJ Kempf

In the last two games between the Manchester Bulldogs and the Hoosick Falls Senior Panthers, extra points were the difference. Last years and this years regular season meetings were decided by a total of two points, with extra points being the difference, and this game was no different. (In youth football, one point is awarded for a successful running play and two points are awarded for a successful pass play). Manchester came into this game undefeated, with the Panther’s only loss on the season being a one point loss to Manchester in the first game of the season.
After traveling to Granville, the site of this years Super Bowl, the game began at 3 pm. The starting time was established months ago, before the entire schedule of play earlier in the season was moved back one week due to excessive heat. That 3 pm starting time would become a large factor at the end of the game.

 

Manchester scored a first quarter touchdown on its second offensive possession of the game to take a six point lead but Mathew Kempf batted down a pass in the end zone to thwart the extra two point attempt.
On the next possession, the Panthers struck back when running back Andrew Sparks threw a perfect halfback option pass to Connor MacNeil for a score. Andrew Sparks then scored on a running play for the extra point to take a 7-6 lead.
Sam Fauler intercepted a long pass attempt by Manchester on its next offensive possession and the 7-6 score held into halftime.
For much of the third quarter both teams defenses were dominant over the offense, with Shawn Hayes coming up with a key fourth down tackle for the Panthers to stop Manchester’s first offensive possession of the half.  Both teams could move the ball but not far enough for a score.
With just over two minutes left in the quarter, the Panthers struck. Behind a key block from Rich Stifter, Jack Cavanaugh scored on a running play to give the Panthers a much welcomed cushion of seven points. With the score now 13 – 6, Andrew Sparks dove across the end zone line and hit the end zone pylon on a well set up reverse play for one more point and a 14-6 lead.

Andrew Sparks looks for room to turn the corner last Sunday in Granville. The Panthers outscored Manchester to bring home the Super Bowl trophy.
Photo by Steve Bradley

It was now up to the Panther defense to hold the Bulldogs. Behind an interception by Mathew Kempf at the Panthers 3 yard line and timely tackles by AJ Brown, Tyler Peabody, and Eli King, the defense did their job for most of the fourth quarter, but with three minutes left in the game, the Panthers elected to punt and the Bulldogs began a possession that was probably their last chance to score. At this point, both teams were also fighting a new foe, darkness.
For the last seven minutes of the game it was quickly getting darker. There were two streetlights on the street outside the field and one 2 foot square floodlight, that, for some reason, was attached to the streetlight telephone pole, and was shedding some light on one end of the field. By the two minute mark, it was very dark and the game was played by streetlight.
A twenty yard Bulldogs play ate up a big chuck of the yardage the Bulldogs needed. With less than two minutes to play, the Bulldogs called a pass. The quarterback went back and threw to his right and the receiver caught the ball. That the reciever could even see the ball against the black curtain of tall pines at the other end of the field is unbelievable. But he did and now the Bulldogs were within two at 14-12. They would have to pass for two points to tie.
Manchester lined up for the extra point and before the ball was snapped, a Bulldog lineman committed a penalty that moved the ball back from the three and a half to the eight and a half yard line. The play began and the quarterback found his receiver and threw the ball into the endzone. As every fan, player, and coach held their breath, the ball sailed through the air toward the receiver. The receiver was unable to handle the pass and the ball fell to the ground.

For the third game between these two foes, the extra points made the difference.
Panthers are the 2017 Super Bowl Champions. Congratulations.

 

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