F or the second time in three games Whitehall’s football team was done in by big plays and missed opportunities, as it fell to Greenwich 36-13 on Sept. 14.
Greenwich quarterback Jake Jennings threw for 187 yards and three touchdowns and the Witches rushed for 325 yards in the game as Whitehall fell to 1-2 on the season.
“Just like in the Rensselaer game, it came down to missed opportunities,” said head coach Justin Culligan. “Our first sustained drive we got down inside the 10-yard line, we get a holding call which pushes us back and we couldn’t finish.”
“It’s the little things that are hurting us, but I think that comes with being a young team. The kids played hard. They never quit. They play whistle-to-whistle and you can’t ask for any more than that.”
The loss creates a must-win scenario against scenario against Fort Edward tomorrow night. The Flying Forts improved to 2-1 on the season last Saturday with a 34-0 win over Catholic Central and the Railroaders will need a win to keep themselves in contention for one of two Class D North Division sectional berths.
Fort Edward handed Whitehall its first loss of the season last year, defeating the Railroaders 28-26 in a game that saw six lead changes.
Culligan said he expects a tough, physical game.
“They don’t do anything we haven’t seen. Their offense and defense is the same as it’s been the last two years,” Culligan said.
Brett Powers, who rushed for 246 yards and three touchdowns against Whitehall last year, has transferred but the Forts feature a big offensive line and a pair of small, but athletic backs in Dylan White and Tyler Brockway. The duo combined for 168 yards rushing last week.
One advantage Culligan says Whitehall has is numbers. “They only have 16 or 17 kids so we’re hoping to outlast them,” he said.
The Railroaders will also want to avoid falling into the early hole like they did last week against Greenwich.
The Witches raced out to a 12-0 lead in the first quarter and held a 28-6 lead at the half.
On its first drive, Whitehall forced Greenwich into a third and long at the 47-yard line but tailback Josh Barnes caught a pass near the Railroaders sideline, avoided three tacklers, cut back across the field and raced downfield for a 47-yard touchdown.
Later in the quarter Jennings connected with Barnes again on a 65-yard scoring strike for a 12-0 lead.
Justin Hoagland cut that lead in half to open the second quarter, plunging into the end zone from two yards, but Greenwich fullback Brendan DiSanto scored on runs of 4 and 25 yards to give the Witches a commanding lead at the half.
DiSanto would score again on a 20-yard pass in the third quarter and Josh Hoagland, who ran for 186 yards on 17 carries, added a touchdown in the fourth quarter.
Although the team sits at a disappointing 1-2, Culligan says the team is prepared for league play now that the coaching staff has determined the best positions for several of its young players.
“We had a tough early season but now we’re getting into division play and I think we match up well with the teams in the north. We’re very young and it’s taken us a few games to find where we should play some of these kids, but I think we have them in places where they can succeed and I feel comfortable going into league play.”
“I loved the effort and as long as they continue to show that effort, the results will come,” Culligan said.
Kickoff for tomorrow’s game is 7 p.m. at Ambrose Gilligan Field.