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Gators steal No. 3 seed in division from T’birds

October 19, 2016
By Andrew David Kuczkowski - , Westfield Republican

The Allegany-Limestone Gators (2-5, 2-3) spoiled Chautauqua Lake's homecoming festivities, as they walked away with a 19-7 victory on Friday in Class C south football.

With the win, Allegany-Limestone was pushed into the top four in the division.

In order to secure the No. 3 seed in the Section 6 Class C playoffs, the Gators needed to win by nine points. The loss dropped the Thunderbirds to fourth.

Article Photos

Photo by Lisa Monacelli
Chautauqua Lake’s Aiden Carson (12) makes a catch during Friday’s Class C South high school football game.

The win meant a lot to a struggling Gators team.

"It's huge," Allegany-Limestone head coach Paul Furlong said of the win. "We haven't been back-to-back in the playoffs in a few years. We knew we had to win by nine going into (Friday) to get a three seed. If we would have won even by seven, we would have been out of the playoffs We stuck together."

The entire night was defensive focused.

Chautauqua Lake junior quarterback Devin Pope kicked off the scoring with an opening drive touchdown on a 1 yard touchdown strike to fellow junior JC McCroskey for the 7-0 lead. Unfortunately, the touchdown, which came at the 3:40 mark of the first quarter, was Chautauqua Lake's lone score of the game.

Allegany-Limestone answered in the second quarter as senior running back Logan Ganoung made the Thunderbirds pay for a penalty with a rush of 35 yards to the 1-yard line. There, Ganoung punched it in to tie it up, 7-7, with 2:42 left in the half.

The team's running game was a leading factor to the offense.

"He's just a hard-nosed kid," Furlong said of Ganoung. "He is a hard-working kid and we keep feeding him the ball. I don't know how many rushes he had. He had to have probably 25 rushes (Friday)."

The Thunderbirds' ensuing drive ended in a punt. However, the snap was bobbled and advanced only two yards past the line of scrimmage, which forced the Thunderbirds to turn the ball over on downs. Chautauqua Lake's defense stood strong, holding the Gators to a 35-yard field goal by Connor Golley with 26.3 seconds remaining in the half.

"He's only a sophomore. He's got a real strong leg and he's a real confident kid," Furlong said. "I grabbed him on the bus and said, 'Hey, we are going to need you big (Friday).'"

The kick helped the Gators get a lead, but not the nine points that were needed to clinch the playoff spot. The 10-7 score stayed that way until the fourth quarter.

On a drive in which the Thunderbirds were penalized 20 yards, the Gators scored a 3-yard touchdown for a 16-7 advantage. The score helped Allegany go up by two scores, leaving only 5:27 left in the game.

The home team tried to answer, but only gave the ball back. Golley once again split the uprights from 30 yards out to put the game out of reach, 19-7, with only 1:21 remaining.

Chautauqua Lake faltered after scoring in the first.

The closest the Thunderbirds came to scoring was off Pope's big throws. However, more times than not, those passes were not landing in the hands of the receivers.

"I think what happens a lot of times is that I put, maybe not so much pressure, but a lot of accountability on Devin, and I think he thinks he's got to do it all on one big play," Chautauqua Lake head coach Adam Erickson said. "But his big thing is that he's still young. He's a junior. He's learning this offense, he's learning this system, and again, he is just missing on certain plays."

"This season has been one of adversities, whether it is injuries, different things happening, a lot of these kids it's their first full year of varsity football," Erickson said. "They're going to see a lot and we are going to see where that takes us."



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