WARRENSBURG — Heading into Saturday’s Class D Division II game against Warrensburg/Bolton, the Canajoharie/Fort Plain football team got ahead of itself.
“We were 5-0,” Canajoharie senior Nick Kocjan said. “We thought we were big stuff.”
Then, the Burghers humbled their visitors.
“We got punched in the mouth,” Kocjan said.
Warrensburg (3-0, 5-1) scored a decisive 40-14 victory against Canajoharie (1-1, 5-1) in a matchup of squads battling for first place in their division. Using their rush-heavy attack, the Burghers dominated Canajoharie, outgaining the Cougars 351-102 and maintaining possession for 34:36 of the game’s 48:00.
“They chewed up the clock,” Kocjan said. “They played to their game plan and they executed.”
The game’s pivotal sequence came right after halftime. With Warrensburg ahead 16-14, Canajoharie’s opening drive ended with a punt after five plays. Warrensburg took possession at its own 14 with 9:40 to play in the third quarter, and put together an 18-play drive that ended in a touchdown with 11:00 to play in the fourth.
“The time we took on that drive was very important,” said Warrensburg senior Cole Lanfear, who rushed for his team’s first three touchdowns. “That gave a huge morale boost to all of us on our team.”
On the other sideline, Warrensburg’s marathon drive — which finished with Lanfear’s scoring rush on a fourth-down play from Canajoharie’s 1 — deflated the Cougars.
“We knew were in trouble,” Canajoharie head coach Shannon Hyney said. “That was the turning point.”
Warrensburg added two more touchdowns in the fourth quarter, as Canajoharie’s offense continued to struggle. Warrensburg senior Trevor Prosser’s touchdown followed Lanfear’s final score of the day, while junior Evan MacDuff found senior Trevor Winchell with a short touchdown pass in the game’s final minutes.
“This win gave us a lot more confidence for the teams we’re playing next,” said Lanfear, who rushed 30 times for 185 yards. “It’s made us realize we can go somewhere further than sectionals.”
Lanfear scored the game’s first two touchdowns before Canajoharie answered. Kocjan rushed for two touchdowns in the second quarter, but the Cougars rarely were able to sustain offensive drives. From Canajoharie’s nine possessions, only three lasted for longer than 2:00, while three lasted for less than 1:09.
Hyney said the Cougars struggled to follow their game plan against Warrensburg on both sides of the ball. After beating Whitehall in Week 5, Hyney said his team struggled to focus heading into its Week 6 tussle.
“It’s still a week-to-week thing. You still need to play the game,” Hyney said. “You can’t get so hyped up during the week.”
Canajoharie has a pair of divisional games remaining in its regular season. Wins in both contests will ensure the Cougars a spot in the postseason.
“So we have to get our confidence back, get back to playing our type of football,” Kocjan said. “We’ll be fine.”
Canajoharie 0 14 0 0 — 14
Warrensburg 8 8 0 24 — 40
W — Lanfear 1 run (Prosser run)
W — Lanfear 35 run (Prosser run)
C — Kocjan 2 run (Nare from Kocjan)
C — Kocjan 19 run (Try failed)
W — Lanfear 1 run (MacDuff run)
W — Prosser 6 run (Prosser run)
W — Winchell 2 pass from MacDuff (Prosser run)
Reach Gazette Sportswriter Michael Kelly at firstname.lastname@example.org or @ByMichaelKelly on Twitter.