Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Thoughts From The Press Box: The Jug Game

GLENS FALLS - It was a beautiful night, with a beautiful atmosphere.  Under the whirl of portable lights, thousands made their way to the corner of Sherman and Clayton for the 42nd edition of this rivalry game against the Glens Falls Indians and the Hudson Falls Tigers.

It was an exciting game.  Two teams, fighting for their playoff lives, giving their all on the field.  One team managing two key injuries in-game, with their replacements performing very well.  The other pushed their running back into the record books for one of the most yards rushing in a single game.  And a great atmosphere too, with Glens Falls celebrating their homecoming with the parade of floats at the half.

But one play changed the path of the game, and it's a play that needs to be talked about.  If you heard our coverage, the other radio station's, or the television coverage that has aired this week, you know what play that is.

Glens Falls had a 21-20 lead heading into the final minute of the second half.  Hudson Falls is driving, and managed to get the ball up to the Glens Falls 8 yard line.  11 seconds left on the clock, clock stopped as the previous play went out of bounds.

The Hudson Falls Tigers took their time breaking huddle and got set with just a few seconds on the play clock.  That play clock went down 3 ... 2 ... 1 ... 0 ... and sat there for a second before Hudson Falls snapped the ball.  Dalton Hogan would pass it off to his left to an open Schuyler Eustis for the touchdown that put the Tigers ahead 26-20.

To the nine people inside the press box, immediately rose the inquiry of why it wasn't flagged for Delay of Game.  And it was a major play, too.  Hudson Falls took the lead for good with that play, and won their first jug since 1997 with their 43-35 win.

Now comes the "what if's?".  And the debate.  Is Hudson Falls's win legitimate?

In my mind, the win is.  Not because I'm a Hudson Falls alum and wanted to see the Tigers score the jug for the first time since the fall after I graduated.  But because of several factors.

First, and this is something that was mentioned on the television broadcast by Brian Delaney, as well as his partner, Bob Freeman, for LookTV. There were numerous Glens Falls defenders who did not play the full down because they were expecting the flag, allowing Eustis to get wide open for the touchdown score.  While there should have been the flag and a whistle to stop play, the players have got to know that no matter what, you have to play until you hear that whistle blow, meaning the lapse on D is partially theirs to blame there.

Second, we don't know how Hudson Falls would have played that down if they did get penalized and it was at the 13 yard line instead of the 8.  Would Geno Brancati, who was doing very well during that drive, continue to run it up the gut, or would Hogan try to pass like he did on the actual play?  Would Glens Falls stop him in time?  Would Hudson Falls have enough time to get into the end zone?  We don't know.

Third, Glens Falls had ample opportunities to get the touchdown back, including with 3 seconds left in the half.  Granted, with 60 yards to cover and one play to do it in, it would take a Hail Mary type play from a quarterback who was just thrown in because of the injury to the starter, but it was an avenue worth exploring if the Indians were hoping to get the touchdown back.

In addition, the Indians defense came up big on the first Hudson Falls drive of the 3rd quarter, forcing them to punt, but was unable to do anything offensively.

So, while it was a play that altered course, it was one which Glens Falls could have played differently, and could have gotten back.  But it still is a play that needs to be examined, and something that the regional associations of game officials need to talk about moving forward to make sure that it doesn't happen again, because it could one day be a critical mistake at an end of a game where the team affected won't have any time left on the clock.

And what a mess that will be.

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