Though crowned by many long before this season even began, the Maine-Endwell football team finally made it official Saturday evening in the Class B state title game at the Carrier Dome with an outcome much in line with those of the previous 12 weeks.
M-E 42, Glens Falls 12.
“I’m at a loss for words right now,” said senior tailback/cornerback Justin Jacoby, fighting back tears following a 157-yard, three-touchdown rushing performance that helped propel the Spartans to their 25th straight victory, the longest current streak in New York. “It’s my last high school football game and I couldn’t ask for a better group of guys to play with.”
Quarterback Kyle Gallagher added 152 yards rushing and two touchdowns — earning Most Valuable Player honors in the process — for M-E (13-0), which a season after capturing the Class A state title became only the second Section 4 team to win back-to-back state championships. Chenango Forks accomplished the feat with Class B championships in 2003-04.
M-E, the top-ranked Class B team in the state from the onset of this season, had beaten its opponents entering Saturday’s contest by an average of just over 42 points a game, routinely putting teams away by halftime.
But following a 18-yard touchdown pass from Glens Falls’ Cam Girard to Mike Lanoir on the opening drive of the second half, the Spartans found themselves nursing a 21-12 lead when they took possession at their 4-yard line with 1:51 remaining in the third quarter.
What followed was quintessential M-E football. Kyle Gallagher ripped off a 20-yard run to give M-E some breathing room, later tacking on runs of 13 and 14 yards before Jacoby jitterbugged his way for a 26-yard touchdown run with 10:51 remaining that capped a six-play, 96-yard drive that put M-E ahead 28-12.
On the first play of the Indians’ ensuing drive, M-E’s Nick Sorrenti intercepted a Girard pass at the Glens Falls 48, returning it 26 yards to the 22.
Four plays later, Jacoby scored easily on a 7-yard run, increasing M-E’s lead to 35-12 with 8:48 left. After a three-and-out by Glens Falls (11-2), Luis Uceta provided the exclamation point on M-E’s championship season with a 47-yard touchdown run with just under five minutes left for the game’s final points.
Moments after Uceta’s touchdown, M-E’s defensive starters gave way to their backups, heading to the sidelines to much-deserved applause from the sizeable Spartans cheering section.
“We knew we just had to put it away,” Sorrenti said of the late-game surge. “We know what we’re capable of. Coaches just kept calling what we do best and it worked.”
M-E struck early Saturday, with Kyle Gallagher faking a handoff to Sorrenti before cutting through a sizeable hole on the left side of the line en route to a 55-yard touchdown run that gave M-E a 7-0 lead just 2½ minutes into the game.
Another early M-E rout in the making? Not yet.
Glens Falls proved it could move the ball via the air early on, the Section 2 representative completing six passes for 61 yards on its opening drive. And though that drive ultimately stalled a few yards short of a first down at M-E’s 23, that wouldn’t be the case on the Indians’ second drive.
That one ended with a 15-yard scoring hookup from Girard to Zach Infield with 11:26 remaining in the second quarter that brought Glens Falls within 7-6.
M-E responded with a seven-play, 67-yard scoring drive to push the lead to 14-6. That drive was capped by a 6-yard touchdown run by Kyle Gallagher, who two plays earlier on a third-and-14 play completed a 49-yard pass under duress to brother Adam to the Glens Falls 8.
Glens Falls came right back, driving to the M-E 19 on a 9-yard run by Joe McMahon. On the next play, Girard completed a pass to Lanoir in the right corner of the end zone for an apparent touchdown pass.
However, offensive pass interference was called on Lanoir, wiping out the touchdown. Two incompletions followed, ending the threat.
M-E then went 63 yards in five plays, with Jacoby scoring on a 35-yard run to give M-E a 21-6 lead with 2:11 left in the second quarter.
“The big plays that hurt us in the second quarter were the long pass from Gallagher and the pass interference penalty,” Glens Falls coach Pat Lilac said. “Without those plays, it could have been a different first half.”
Glens Falls would make it interesting early in the second half, but M-E proved much too superior down the stretch in finishing off one of the most impressive seasons in Section 4 history.
“You can’t ask for a better bunch of kids, going out and doing what they said they were going to do,” M-E coach Matt Gallagher said. “The expectations, the target, however you want to call it after last year, that’s a lot of pressure for young kids.
“They responded by working in the offseason and coming to practice and preparing every week. They deserve this.”