Trevon Perez-Tucker returned the opening kickoff of Saturday’s state Class B semifinal game into Marlboro territory, and Schalmont never left.
In an incredible first half played entirely on the Iron Dukes’ side of the field, the Sabres scored nine touchdowns, including three before the contest was four minutes old, and soared to a 66-0 victory at Dietz Stadium.
Schalmont piled up 47 second-quarter points in last week’s 60-6 regional win over Beekmantown, and scored 40 in the second frame Saturday as a springboard toward the highest total ever amassed by a Section II team in state tournament play.
“Don’t make mistakes. Play every down 100 percent. We did that, and it went our way,” said junior receiver and cornerback Hunter Gac, who was selected Schalmont’s standout defensive player. “We got momentum, and once we start going, no one is stopping us.”
Schalmont (12-0) forced five turnovers in the first half, with Dom Friello and Devon Willis returning interceptions for touchdowns 62 seconds apart in the opening period, and Gac blocked a punt, gobbled up the ball and scored in the middle of the monster second quarter.
That second quarter also included three touchdown runs by Nick Gallo, a scoring pass from the junior quarterback to Kyle Strube that made it 60-0, and a fumble recovery by Gallo that set it up.
“It’s the challenge,” Schalmont coach Joe Whipple said after his team’s sixth shutout and third 60-point game. “We challenge the kids, and they step up.”
Schalmont will make its second state title-game appearance in four years a week from today at 3 at the Carrier Dome opposite Maine-Endwell (Section IV, 12-0), a 35-13 winner against DePew (Section VI, 9-3). Schalmont lost to Hornell in the 2010 state final, 50-20.
“Hopefully, our story will have a good ending this time,” said Whipple. “We’ll give it everything we’ve got.”
Maine-Endwell beat Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake for the 2011 state Class A title, and knocked off Glens Falls for last year’s state Class B crown. Glens Falls made it to the state tournament by beating Schalmont for the area flag.
“What we saw in the offseason that we didn’t before was a chip on their shoulder,” Whipple said. “That and a tremendous amount of camaraderie.”
The Sabres came together for a superb performance that started with Perez-Tucker’s 56-yard kickoff return to the Marlboro (Section IX, 11-1) 39. Gac ran for 22 yards on the Sabres’ first play, and four plays after that, Perez-Tucker went 14 yards for a touchdown on a right sweep.
Friello intercepted a wobbler from Marlboro quarterback Ryan Cary two plays into the Iron Dukes’ opening drive and rumbled five yards to the end zone. The pick and touchdown were firsts for Friello, a senior guard and defensive tackle.
“Their quarterback was scrambling. Someone got a hand on their quarterback and knocked the ball off,” said Friello. “I was right there for the play.”
Willis went 35 yards after his interception three plays into Marlboro’s next drive, making it a 20-0 game 3:26 in.
“Three possessions, two interceptions for touchdowns and a run for a touchdown,” said Gac. “You couldn’t ask for anything better than that.”
“We came out fired up and ready to go,” said Friello. “At the start of the season, in our first four games, we were having trouble getting off to a good start.”
Marlboro’s third drive also ended on an interception by Strube.
“Our schemes with [assistant coaches] Mike DiCocco and Ray Kearney were sound, as usual,” said Whipple. “We knew if we put them in good spots, good things would happen.”
Gac scored on an eight-yard run on the first play of the second quarter, and a fumble recovery by Willis set up Gallo’s two-yard scoring keeper. Gac later reached the end zone after his punt block, batting the ball forward before scooping it at the six.
Gallo later scored on runs of one and eight yards, part of his 10-carry, 69-yard effort. Schalmont’s offensive player of the game also went 5-for-6 passing for 66 yards, his last toss going 11 yards to Strube for a touchdown.
“It comes with turnovers and defense,” Whipple said of the big first half. “Defense has a lot to do with that.”
Willis capped Schalmont’s initial drive of the third quarter with a 26-yard touchdown run. Marlboro worked the ball past midfield for the first time on its drive before that, and the Iron Dukes penetrated Schalmont territory only once more, in the fourth-quarter.
“My hat’s off to Schalmont. They’re a team to be reckoned with,” said Marlboro coach Rich Ward, whose Iron Dukes came in ranked No. 2 in the state, one spot ahead of the Sabres. “We knew they were fast, we just didn’t see them live and didn’t know they were that fast.”
Marlboro had 20 yards of offense in the first half, and 90 for the game with four first downs. The Iron Dukes averaged just under 40 points per game leading up to the East semifinal.
“We swarm to the ball and penetrate on the defensive line,” said Gac, who is part of a cast that has allowed 37 points all year. “That’s it. It’s great defense.”
Schalmont evened its state semifinal record at 2-2, and far surpassed its combined point total from those games, a 2009 loss to Nanuet (28-7), a 2010 win over Croton-Harmon (28-14) and a 2011 loss to Croton-Harmon (15-12).
Schalmont 20 40 6 0 — 66
Marlboro 0 0 0 0 — 0
S — Perez-Tucker 14 run ((Mattick kick).
S — Friello 5 interception return (Mattick kick).
S — Willis 35 interception return (kick failed).
S — Gac 8 run (Mattick kick).
S — Gallo 2 run (Mattick kick).
S — Gac 6 blocked punt return (Mattick kick).
S — Gallo 1 run (Mattick kick).
S — Gallo 8 run (kick failed).
S — Strube 11 pass from Gallo (run failed).
S — Willis 26 run (kick failed).
rye neck 14,
hoosick falls 0
KINGSTON — Rye Neck made a pair of first-quarter touchdowns stand up in a semifinal win over 2012 state champion Hoosick Falls.
Jakob Calvini scored for Rye Neck (Section I, 11-0) on a fumble return, and Jake Sevean added a touchdown run.
Hoosick Falls (11-1) had won 24 straight games. Garrett Wright was 16-for-33 passing for 137 yards with a pair of interceptions, while the Panthers managed 81 rushing yards and lost a fumble.
Hoosick Falls 0 0 0 0 — 0
Rye Neck 14 0 0 0 — 14
RN — Calvini 55 fumble return (Calvini kick).
RN — Sevean 12 run (Calvini kick).