Panthers crush Cannoneers
HOOSICK, N.Y. -- Injuries are a part of nearly every football game, from high school to the NFL.
Only the best teams can keep going without missing a beat.
After Hoosick Falls Central School quarterback Garrett Wright was injured late in the first half, the Panthers scored three more times with Troy Constantino under center in the second half, topping Watervliet 40-6 in the opening round of the Section II, Class C playoffs.
"They were getting first downs, but they are good, we knew they could throw the ball," said Hoosick Falls coach Ron Jones. "At halftime, we made our adjustments and did what we had to do to be better."
Five different players scored rushing touchdowns in the rout -- Wright, Constantino, Brandon Hodges, Mike Matatt and Colby Davendonis as the Panthers won its 48th straight Section II game and 21st overall. Hoosick Falls rushed for 338 yards as a team.
"I was very happy with the offensive line," Jones said. "I told them to take the game over physically in the second half and they responded. It was [probably their best] performance all season ... let's not let them creep back into this."
Watervliet took the opening kickoff and gained three first downs, but the Hoosick defense held and forced a turnover on downs. The Panthers started on offense and marched methodically down the field on a 9-play, 64-yard drive capped off by Wright keeping the ball on the option for a 16-yard touchdown.
On the next Hoosick drive, Wright used his arm more than his legs, finding Dave Hardesty for 17 yards on a third-and-6, then hooking up with Levi Brewster behind the defense for a 23-yard touchdown and a 13-0 advantage.
After the defense forced a 3-and-out, the Panthers kept the ball moving as the half wound down, converting a third down and fourth down before Constantino scored on his first play, a 5-yard run, after Wright was injured the play before, with 1:27 left in the first half.
"Who knows, we'll check him out," said Jones, when asked about Wright's injury. "Troy can run the [offense] too, but it wasn't a situation [tonight] to start throwing the ball around."
Hoosick Falls received the second half kickoff and squashed any thoughts of a Cannoneer comeback when Hodges (11 carries, 114 yards and a touchdown) took the opening play 43 yards deep into Watervliet territory. Three plays later, Hodges finished the drive with a 15-yard scamper and a 27-0 advantage.
Matatt scored the next time Hoosick Falls had the ball, capping off a 10-play drive with a two-yard touchdown run. Matatt was the leading rusher on the night with 18 carries for 125 yards and the score.
"We have two really good backs, both physical and it's good to keep them fresh," Jones said. "They are good on defense, so we don't need them to take a beating on offense. We try to get a lot of people reps, they have a set rotation."
Taylor Dockstader was most of the Watervliet offense, completing 16-of-25 for 141 yards. As a unit, the Cannoneers rushed for less than 50 yards.
"Our goal in the second half was to bury them, be more mentally tough and more physical," Hodges said. "Every practice we're conditioning hard to be stronger than the other teams, that's one of the keys to our success."
Watervliet broke up the shutout with three minutes remaining on a two-yard touchdown run by Dockstader -- only the third touchdown the Panthers defense has allowed this year.
"These guys have had good years in a weight room and they are very strong. That's a major advantage for us," Jones said.
Hoosick Falls will face either Stillwater or Fonda-Fultonville Nov. 2 at 1 p.m. at Stillwater High School.
"We have to work hard this week, it's not going to be easy," Hodges said. "Nothing's easy in the playoffs."
TALK TO US
If you'd like to leave a comment (or a tip or a question) about this story with the editors, please email us. We also welcome letters to the editor for publication; you can do that by filling out our letters form and submitting it to the newsroom.