Every time Peru reached the end zone Friday night, Glens Falls had an answer.
The Indians scored a touchdown soon after each one by their North Country foes and registered a 36-20 Class B regional victory at Brent Steuerwald Stadium.
Glens Falls never trailed in its first state tournament game in 19 years, and sealed the outcome in the last quarter when Cam Girard hit Mike LaNoir with a touchdown pass four plays in, and the senior quarterback ran for another score in the final minutes.
“That’s huge,” Girard said of Glens Falls’ ability to answer. “When the going gets harder, when they punched us in the mouth, we had to pull together and punch back.”
Girard and LaNoir landed the hardest blow with their 20-yard touchdown connection in the fourth quarter, which Heath Armstrong followed with an extra point to make it 29-14. LaNoir caught the ball over his shoulder near the left sideline in the end zone in a play similar to his tie-breaking grab in last week’s 21-14 Section II title-game win over Schalmont.
“It was a fade. Last week, it was a wheel,” said Girard. “I told Mike to go up and get it, and he made a great play.”
Girard also hit Jake Dailey with a touchdown pass, and Joe McMahon rushed for 193 yards and a pair of touchdowns on 24 carries as part of a 10th consecutive victory for the state’s No. 8-ranked team (10-1). Peru (Section VII, 9-2) had won nine in a row coming in, punctuated by three shutouts in its last three games.
“We were hoping to get them off the field a little more than we did. They must have had the ball for three quarters,” said Peru coach Nick Damiani. “They maintained their drives. That’s the first time all season someone controlled us up front.”
Peru made it an 8-6 game on Zane Bazzano’s seven-yard scoring run late in the opening quarter, and Glens Falls got second-quarter touchdowns from Dailey on a 10-yard pass from Girard and McMahon on a 42-yard burst on a well-executed draw play.
McMahon had capped Glens Falls’ opening series on an 11-yard touchdown run up the middle, one play after Dailey’s 11-yard reception on a fourth-and-nine, and Dailey added a two-point conversion catch.
“That really set the tone on offense, scoring on our first three drives like that,” said McMahon. “Our defense struggled a bit, but we came around.”
Noah Phillips made a big defensive play for Peru when he interecpted Girard in the third quarter and returned the ball 25 yards to the Glens Falls’ 31. After Mackenzie LaRocque ran for seven yards, Tim Remillard scored from the 24, and LaRocque’s two-point surge made it 22-14.
“We got a little momentum going and they go on a six-minute drive,” said Damiani. “They convert two fourth downs and get a touchdown. When you get down here, you’ve got to execute.”
Daimani was referring to the drive Glens Falls put together leading up to LaNoir’s clutch TD reception. Girard ran for a yard, and McMahon ran for five on fourth-and-one plays before that, and LaNoir went 15 and 14 yards after taking in screen passes.
“We knew we had to come together again,” Girard said.
“We lean on each other,” said LaNoir, who earlier this week was named the Class B West Division Offensive Player of the Year. “We don’t give up. We don’t put our heads down.”
Remillard scored from three yards away midway through the fourth quarter, but it remained a two-possession game at 29-20 when Bret Boyer missed an extra-point try. A 20-yard run by McMahon, a 10-yard run by LaNoir and a nine-yard reception by the senior helped set up Girard’s five-yard touchdown scamper with 2:20 left.
LaNoir rushed for 93 yards on 21 carries, Girard had an interception, Sam Sax had a sack and pass bat down and Brandon Rivers had a sack in Glens Falls’ derailment of the state’s No. 7-ranked team.
LaRocque and Remillard managed 49 and 47 rushing yards, respectively, and Bazzano made seven receptions for 55 yards.
Glens Falls will meet Marlboro (Section IX, 11-0) next Saturday at 3 in a state semifinal game at
Dietz Stadium in Kingston. Marlboro edged Lourdes (Section I, 9-1), 23-20, Friday.
Glens Falls made its only regional appearance before Friday against Peru in 1993 and won, 21-7. Several other Section II teams have clashed with Peru over the years, including Lansingburgh in a dramatic 43-42 overtime loss in 2003, and Schalmont in a 25-20 victory last season.
Peru 6 0 8 6 — 20
Glens Falls 8 14 0 14 — 36
GF — McMahon 11 run (Dailey pass from C. Girard).
P — Bazzano 7 run (pass failed).
GF — Dailey 10 pass from C. Girard (Armstrong kick).
GF — McMahon 42 run (Armstrong kick).
P — Remillard 24 run (LaRocque run).
GF — LaNoir 20 pass from C. Girard (Armstrong kick).
P — Remillard 3 run (kick failed).
GF — C. Girard 5 run (Armstrong kick).
Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake 42, Potsdam 0
MASSENA — Eric Dillon scored three touchdowns, and Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake beat Potsdam, 42-0, for its fifth Class A regional win in as many years at Massena High School.
Burnt Hills’ regional streak includes a 42-0 victory over Potsdam in 2010.
The Spartans (10-1) will see state semifinal action Friday night at 8 at Dietz Stadium against the winner of Monday’s game between Cornwall (Section IX, 10-0) and Somers (Section I, 10-0). The Spartans defeated Cornwall a year ago, 35-14, before bowing to Maine-Endwell in the state title game, 27-20.
Dillon caught scoring passes of 23 and five yards from Ryan McDonnell, and returned a blocked punt 23 yards for his third touchdown.
Burnt Hills also got touchdown runs from David Newell, Dan Maynard and Josh Quesada in its 10th consecutive win.
The Spartans blanked a Potsdam (Section X, 9-2) team that had scored 40 points or more six times.
BH-BL 7 21 14 0 — 42
Potsdam 0 0 0 0 — 0
BH — Newell 1 run (McDonnell kick).
BH — Maynard 17 run (McDonnell kick).
BH — Dillon 23 pass from McDonnell (McDonnell kick).
BH — Dillon 5 pass from McDonnell (McDonnell kick).
BH — Dillon 23 blocked punt return (McDonnell kick).
BH — Quesada 6 run (McDonnell kick).