Dutchmen clinch playoff berth

In previous years, the Guilderland football team would have lost a game like this.

Through the first three quarters of last Saturday's game, the Dutchmen made several key mistakes that helped Queensbury build a 12-7 lead. And just before the start of the fourth quarter, a 69-yard touchdown run by Andrew Smith was called back by the second of two consecutive holding penalties.

It seemed like everything was working against Guilderland. But the Dutchmen hadn't come this close to making the Section II, Class AA playoffs to be denied. Not this time.

On the second play from scrimmage in the fourth quarter, Smith broke away for a 48-yard touchdown run. Guilderland never looked back, as it beat Queensbury 28-12 to clinch second place in Division I and earn its first Sectional playoff berth since 1999.

We've been itching to get back ever since (1999), and the kids did a great job today, said Guilderland coach Dan Penna.

Smith had to look back from the end zone to make certain his 48-yard touchdown run wouldn't be called back like his 69-yard scamper three plays earlier.

"The second time I ran it, I thought there would be a penalty on the play," said Smith.

Queensbury (1-2, 2-4) made a bid to re-take the lead. Brad Middleton " who gained 140 yards on 19 carries " broke free for a 35-yard run to Guilderland's 24-yard line. Only an open-field tackle by Nick Ranalli prevented Middleton from reaching the end zone.

Guilderland's defense allowed one more first down to Queensbury on the drive before stopping the Spartans at the 11-yard line. Rather than go for it on fourth down, Queensbury coach John Irion elected to attempt a 27-yard field goal from the right hash mark. Jeff Benway's kick had the distance, but it sailed wide right to deny the Spartans a 15-14 lead.

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