This one was for Devon Willis.
With its starting tailback on the sideline, Schalmont overcame a sluggish first half with a brilliant second one and defeated Scotia-Glenville Friday night, 39-7, in a Class B West Division football game.
Nick Gallo scored four touchdowns as part of the Sabres’ 26th consecutive division win, two of them coming on fourth-down passes from first-year starting quarterback Dalton Cooke.
“That was the No. 1 thing on my mind. I’m going to put everything on that field for him,” said Gallo, who also recovered a fumble and finished with 98 rushing and receiving yards. “He’s my brother. He’s done so much for me.”
Willis sustained an ankle injury while returning the game’s opening kickoff 33 yards. The all-state first-team back ran for a yard on the Sabres’ first play from scrimmage before departing, and did not return.
Willis came into the game needing 110 yards to overtake Vince Gallo (4,104) on the Schalmont’s all-time rushing list.
“We made mistakes and had a couple of bad reads. It wasn’t a good first half for us,” said Schalmont coach Joe Whipple. “For the kids to respond after losing Devon, who’s our top guy, that says a lot about them. The kids rallied around each other.”
“The first half was probably the worst I’ve seen us play,” said Gallo. “In the second half, we showed what Schalmont football is all about.”
Marcus Ramundo recovered a fumble in the end zone on the first play of the third quarter for one of three quick touchdowns as the Sabres (2-0) pulled away from a 13-7 lead.
“That was a huge jump start. You could feel the momentum of the game turning,” Cooke said of Ramundo’s recovery. “It was like, ‘Hey, we can take control of this game right now.’ That’s what we did.”
Gallo produced his third and fourth touchdowns in Schalmont’s pull-away second half, Hunter Gac ran for another and intercepted a pass, and Ramundo, Kevin Paskevich and Dom Friello each
recorded sacks on Dan Zeglen.
“We came out in the second half and played together. That’s how we had to do it, as a team,” said Ramundo, one of Schalmont’s nine seniors. “We didn’t have one kid on the ball. We had four, five, six kids on the ball.”
“Everyone contributed,” said Whipple. “Guys caught passes. [Kyle] Strube ran well. Our defense held them down.
“We lit into them a little bit, and they responded. It was about getting that momentum. They continue to surprise us as coaches.”
Marty McCollum slipped at the four-yard line after handling the kickoff to begin the second half, and Ramundo pounced on the football for his first varsity touchdown after a botched pitch play by the Tartans (0-2).
“Our kid should have let it go into the end zone, and we didn’t execute a play,” said Scotia-Glenville coach Kevin Warren. “That changed it for us right there.”
Schalmont forced a punt and scored again on a 10-yard pass from Cooke to Gallo. The Sabres increased their lead on Gac’s 11-yard touchdown run later in the third quarter, and Gallo delivered from two yards away in the fourth.
Strube ran for 112 yards on 16 carries, Gallo ran four times for 46 yards and caught four balls for 52, and Cooke was 11-for-20 passing for 113 yards with three interceptions.
Gallo snared a 13-yard touchdown pass to finish off Schalmont’s first series of the game, and Jacob Goldman answered for the Tartans on a 12-yard run later in the opening quarter.
Scotia-Glenville’s touchdown was set up on an interception by Zeglen. Cody Dietershagen and McCollum also picked off passes, and Ryan Bellamy had two sacks.
Gallo broke a 7-7 tie on a two-yard run with 1:35 left in the second quarter, that coming just after an 18-yard scamper by Strube.
“We came here and wanted something,” said Warren, who last season guided the Tartans to their first playoff berth since 2006. “We’ve got to regroup and get after it.”
Whipple wasn’t sure of the extent of Willis’ ankle injury. He was optimistic, though, that the Gazette All-Area performer wouldn’t miss too much time as Schalmont bids for its sixth straight division title and fifth consecutive Section II Class B title-game appearance.
Scotia-Glenville 7 0 0 0 — 7
Schalmont 7 6 19 7 — 39
Sch — Gallo 13 pass from Cooke (Mattick kick).
SG — Goldman 12 run (Coppola kick).
Sch — Gallo 2 run (kick failed).
Sch — Ramundo recovered fumble in end zone (pass failed).
Sch — Gallo 10 pass from Cooke (run failed).
Sch — Gac 11 run (Mattick kick).
Sch — Gallo 2 run (Mattick kick).