It wasnt a normal-type win for the Franklin Academy Huskies as they defeated the Gouverneur Wildcats 34-21 in a Northern Athletic Conference, Tier I playoff game on Saturday at Malones Crowner Field.
The Malone squad, now 7-1 for the season, scored a pair of rushing touchdowns in the opening quarter and used several strong defensive stands and a pair of special team touchdowns to build a 35-7 lead to move the Huskies into the Section 10 title game. FA will face the Potsdam Sandstoners (8-0), a 52-8 victor over OFA on Friday, for all the marbles at 7 p.m. on Friday in Potsdam.
After being stopped on the games opening possession, Franklin Academy senior quarterback Mitchell Gallagher was called upon to punt the ball on a fourth and three. The punt hit the ground and took a big bounce in the Huskies favor and pinned the Wildcats deep inside their own zone for the opening possession of the game.
The Malone defense came up big to limit the Wildcats to just five yards on their first three plays, forcing a punt.
Harvey Smith collected the bounding ball as the Huskies 44-yard line and maneuvered his way up the field, finally being brought down at the Gouverneur three-yard line. A personal foul face mask penalty put the ball at the Gouverneur one and a half yard line, with Gallagher calling for a QB sneek on the second play from scrimmage and a quick Malone lead of 7-0 after Harvey Smith kicked the extra point.
The Malone defense stopped the Wildcats on their next possession with Evan Mannix recording a big third-down sack of QB Mark Horne for a 15-yard loss with the QB getting flagged for intentional grounding on the play – which forced Gouverneur to punt the ball again. The only positive play on that possession was a 15-yard personal foul penalty on the Huskies on the opening play of the drive.
Tyrek Sneed gave the Huskies a short field for their next possession, returning the punt 40 yards to the Wildcats 20-yard line. Sneed then capped the six-play drive with a muscular one-yard TD run, belting a pair of would-be tacklers on his way into the endzone and a 13-0 lead. Harvey Smiths PAT was blocked by Levi Love-Tupper.
On Gouverneurs next possession, the Huskies defense bent, but didnt break as Cameron Guerin came up with a big tackle in the backfield on Horne for a four-yard loss, forcing the Wildcats to punt the ball again.
The special team unit of the Huskies took over and provided some great open-field blocking which allowed Sneed to scamper 87 yards for the touchdown. Sneed began the TD run by going to his left, changed direction back to his right and zipped past the Wildcats for the score and a 21-0 lead after Gallagher carried in the two-point conversion.
Gouverneur broke the shutout bid of the Huskies on the ensuing possession as Troy Gates capped an eight-play, 54-yard drive with a nice catch in the endzone.
The Wildcats TD set up the quick-strike capability of the Huskies as Shawn Mulverhill grabbed the kick-off at the 22-yard line and burst through the Gouverneur coverage unit for a 78-yard run to paydirt and a 28-7 FA lead after Smiths kick with 7:18 left in the first half.
Forced to play catch-up early, the Wildcats took to the air with six of the next nine plays pass attempts. Horne completed just one of the aerial attempts to Tanner Spillman for a 16-yard gain over the middle, but the FA defense again stepped up its play and stopped the Wildcats on a fourth-down attempt at the Malone 16.
The Huskies looked as if they were driving for another score before halftime, but Horne stepped in front of a Gallagher pass for an INT, the first interception of Gallagher this season, giving the Wildcats life with a first and goal at the Malone seven.
Again the FA defensive made a stand, stuffing the Gouverneur scoring attempt twice just outside the goal line, moving Horne backward on a fourth down and goal from the one.
It was more of the same to open the second half, with the Malone defensive unit forcing a Gouverneur punt.
On Malones first offensive play of the second half, Gallagher hooked up with Harvey Smith for a 62-yard touchdown and with the PAT, the Huskies increased their lead to 35-7.
The Huskies maintained the lead until late in the fourth quarter when Gouverneur scored a pair of late-game touchdowns on the FA reserves.
Adrian McShane capped a long Gouverneur drive with a four-yard touchdown run with 1:15 remaining with the Wildcats recovering the ensuing onsides kick at the Malone 48.
Two-plays later Horne raced in from 17 yards out for the 35-21 final.
FA 35, Gouverneur 21
Gouv 0 7 0 14 – 21
Mal 13 15 7 0 – 35
Mal: Gallagher, 1-yd run (H. Smith kick), 7:45.
Mal: Sneed, 1-yd run (kick blocked), 3:30.
Mal: Sneed, 87-yd run (Gallagher run), 10:49.
Gouv: Gates, 10-yd pass from Horne (Woods kick), 7:32.
Mal: Mulverhill, 78-yd kick-off return (H. Smith kick), 7:18.
Mal: H. Smith, 62-yd pass from Gallagher (H. Smith kick), 9:25.
Gouv: McShane, 4-yd run (Woods kick), 1:15.
Gouv. McShane, 17-yd run (Woods kick), :46.
Gouv: Horne 20-46; Spillman 7-(-8); McShane 16-110, 2 TDs; Cummings 1-1. Totals: 44-149, 2 TDs.
Mal: Sneed 3-91, 2 TDs; Gallagher 12-22, TD; Bartenslager 2-12; H. Smith 2-3; Perry 1-8; C. Smith 1-9; Team 1-(-12). Totals: 22-133, 3 TDs.
Gouv: Horne 9-26, 132 yds, TD.
Mal: Gallagher 5-9, 106 yds, TD, INT.
Gouv: Woods 1-27; Gates 4-67, TD; Spillman 2-27; McShane 2-11.
Mal: H. Smith 3-34, TD; King 1-31; Monette 1-5.