ROTTERDAM — Unbeaten Gouverneur started strong, scoring on its opening drive, and played dominant defense throughout to defeat third-ranked Stillwater, 10-2, in a state Class C football quarterfinal Friday night at Mohonasen High School.
Gouverneur (10-0) will play in the state semifinals for the first time in school history next Saturday when it travels to Middletown High School to meet Valhalla at noon.
“Our defense was phenomenal,” Wildcats coach Sean Devlin said. “We had a couple guys get hurt early in the game and we had some young kids step up. (Assistant coach Justin Young) does a great job week after week preparing our defense and they are always up to the test. We knew everything they were going to do before they did it, we just had to execute.”
Quarterback Caleb Farr led the way for No. 7 Gouverneur, scoring on a 27-yard run on the fifth play of Gouverneur’s opening drive to give the Wildcats the lead for good.
“It took them a while to adjust to our speed and we knew that scoring early was a key to success, and it was,” Devlin said. “We had solid drives that kept the ball out of their hands and changed the field possession. I am happy for our guys, they deserve it.”
Farr finished with 158 yards rushing on 25 carries and Cayden Stowell added 98 yards on 18 carries for the Wildcats.
Gouverneur extended the lead to 10-0 early in the fourth quarter on a 17-yard field goal from Mitchell Tyler.
Stillwater (10-1) scored with four minutes left in the game on a safety and got to the Gouverneur 23 with a late drive but was never able to produce any points with its offense.
Jacob Shippee led Gouverneur’s defense with 11 tackles.
The cause of Potsdam’s loss to Section 2 champion Schuylerville in the state Class B quarterfinals was obvious to coach Jim Kirka.
“Their speed got us,” Kirka said after the Black Horses overcame arctic playing conditions and the Sandstoners under the lights at Ogdensburg.
“Our defense played about as well as we could but you can’t make the mistakes that we made against a team with their kind of speed,” he added. “This was the first time that we’d made it this far so I’m glad the kids got to experience this game.”
Three players combined for 287 yards rushing and four touchdowns as the Black Horses (10-1) steadily worked their way to a 28-0 lead before giving up a fourth-quarter touchdown.
Junior Sam McGarrahan anchored the potent ground game for the Black Horses (10-1) with 106 yards on 19 carries, including touchdown runs of three, eight and one yard. Sophomore quarterback Owen Sherman went for another 91 yards on 14 rushes and accounted for the other touchdown run. Senior Colton Weatherwax ran the ball 10 times for another 90 yards.
Junior tailback Will Varney highlighted the Sandstoners’ effort with 119 yards on 24 carries, including a 38-yard run to the end zone with 6:18 left in regulation.
Senior Zach Kirka ran the ball in for the two-point conversion that closed out the scoring as Potsdam finished at 7-3 after making its first appearance in the state quarterfinals.
“We knew they had a pretty good tailback and we were a little concerned with their size on the line so we went with a bit of a different look on defense,” Black Horses coach John Bowen said. “We went with five guys up front and that wound up being pretty effective.”
The Black Horses showed right away that the frigid conditions wouldn’t be a factor. Weatherwax picked up 42 yards on the option two plays into the game. The Sandstoners would mount their only goal-line stand to stop the opening drive at their own four yard line.
After forcing a three-and-out on the first Potsdam possession, Schuylerville took the ball over on the Potsdam 42 and opened the scoring seven plays later when Sherman went in from six yards out with 3:11 left in the first quarter.
The Black Horses raised their lead to 14-0 with a nine-play, 74-yard drive that ended with McGarrahan bursting through from one yard out.
Early in the second half, Schuylerville reeled off 53 yards on six plays with McGarrahan finding his way into the end zone from three yards out. Sherman went in for the two-point conversion that made it 22-0 with seven minutes left in the third quarter.
The Sandstoners’ only scoring drive came with Varney breaking through for his 38-yard touchdown run.
The Black Horses advance to the next Saturday’s semifinals in Middletown against a yet-to-be-determined opponent.