For 24 minutes, the Whitehall Railroaders had upset on their minds.
The varsity football team battled to a 7-0 halftime deficit against the Cambridge Indians on Sept. 11, using a pressuring defense and two turnovers to stay within one touchdown heading into the second half.
The Railroaders looked to have the Indians held to a three-and-out to open the third quarter, as Cambridge faced a third-and-eight with freshman quarterback Billy Pine scrambling against the Whitehall pressure.
However, Pine found a triple-covered Todd Hunt for a 29-yard pitch-and-catch, which was followed two plays later by a Matt Best touchdown, the first of five Cambridge scored in the second half of their 41-8 victory against the Railroaders.
“We had so much intensity at the start of this game,” said junior Brett Christian, who tallied four sacks and a key interception in the second quarter. “We wanted a momentous victory for the program and we thought that we had a shot.”
“We had a good first half, and we knew what was coming,” said senior AJ Ricketts, who forced a fumble and recorded two tackles for losses. “As soon as they scored that first touchdown in the second half, our momentum was gone and we were not the same team.”
“We came out and we were ready to play,” said assistant coach Justin Culligan. “We played hard and physical and I thought that the key was controlling the ball for the first quarter, because that got them on their heels in the first half. But then they got the momentum, it’s tough to stop them.”
The Railroaders scored their lone touchdown late in the fourth quarter when sophomore Josh Hoagland connected with senior Brice Cook on a 43-yard touchdown pass, followed by Hoagland running in the two-point conversion.
Hoagland had another solid performance against a tough Indian squad, rushing 18 times for 70 yards while going 1-for-2 in the passing game for the 43-yard strike. Hoagland also caught one pass for 10 yards.
Cook finished with two receptions for 45 yards and the touchdown.
Junior quarterback Codie Bascue threw for 28 yards on 4-for-11 passing while throwing an interception while rushing four times for -12 yards. On defense, Bascue added a sack.
Christian ran the ball four times for five yards while catching two passes for 16 yards. Jake Evans collected six yards on four rushing attempts, while Evan McLaughlin was contained to minus-8 yards on a pair of carries.
Jordan LaCroix finished with two tackles-for-losses and a fumble recovery.
The Railroaders (1-1) will next face Bishop Gibbons in the annual homecoming game.
“There are a lot of things that we can work on this week that we can improve,” said Christian. “I think that we are going to have a really good game against Bishop Gibbons and we are going to work very hard in practice this week.”
“The seniors are going to step up and play hard in the homecoming game,” said Ricketts. “We are going to improve from this week and give it our all in one of our last home games.”