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College football: Hoosick Falls puts away OFA

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STILLWATER — Ogdensburg Free Academy did two things against Hoosick Falls in Friday night’s state Class C quarterfinal game that no other team had done all season.

The Blue Devils scored a first quarter touchdown and made the Section 2 champion Panthers play from behind.

But prevailing in a matchup of staunch defenses, undefeated Hoosick Falls gained an advantage with the place-kicking artistry of Damon Dubois and scored 24 straight points in a 27-6 victory at Stillwater High School.

“We were never able to run against their defense, they were really tough up front. And their kicker was a real weapon,” said OFA coach Matt Tessmer after the contest. Dubois booted a 36-yard field goal in the first quarter, a 34-yarder in the third quarter and added three PATs as the undefeated defending state champions moved on to the semifinals.

“But we played so tough and we were so resilient tonight,” he added.

The Blue Devils used their resiliency by answering Dubois’s first field goal with a second quarter scoring drive, capped when quarterback Josh Liebstein found fullback Jordan McCormick in the end zone on a rollout pass from six yards out.

Liebstein (9-for-28, 127 yards) also connected with McCormick, who caught four passes, for a 20-yard gain on a screen pass in the drive and set up the touchdown by finding Jon Tayler to convert a fourth-and-10 situation.

With the OFA defense jamming the Panthers’ running attempts, the Devils generated another threat in the second quarter when Liebstein collaborated with Nick Sweeney with a 56-yard bomb.

But the Panthers secured a red zone stop and regained the lead for good when fullback Brandon Hodges scored on an eight yard run after rambling 62 yards with a screen pass. Quarterback Garrett Wright, who completed eight of 22 passes for 150 yards, sustained the drive, picking up a critical first down on a keeper.

The Devils were never able to answer against the Panthers’ defense. Wright, making the right decision on a keeper, would produce the game’s most pivotal play midway through the fourth quarter.

With the Panthers holding a 13-6 lead, Wright called his own number on a fourth-and-one play and broke off a 13-yard run to the one-yard line.

He scored on the next play and the Panthers took a 20-6 lead with 7:56 to play.

Hoosick Falls’ momentum cascaded when Dave Hardesty returned a fumble 32 yards to end zone shortly after Liebstein was knocked out of the game with an injury.

“The fourth down play was an option and Garrett Wright made a great decision. At first I didn’t think he was going to keep it but he always does a great job with that play,” said Hoosick Falls coach Ron Jones.

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