A second-half rally by Lake George sent Whitehall to its third loss of the season and essentially puts the Railroaders in a must-win scenario for each of the next two weeks.
Lake George scored 40 unanswered points, including 34 in the second half, as they erased a 24-0 deficit on their way to a 40-30 win on Friday night.
Whitehall, which led 24-6 at halftime, ran only three plays in the third quarter, two of which were fumbles.
“We didn’t tackle well and had too many turnovers, but you have to give Lake George credit. They never quit and they stayed with their game plan,” said Whitehall’s head coach, Justin Culligan.
Lake George ran for 431 yards in the game and was led by Alex Labruzzo who had 204 yards on 27 carries and scored four touchdowns.
Josh Hoagland finished with 101 yards and two touchdowns. His brother, Justin Hoagland was four for six passing the ball with 141 yards and a touchdown. Paxton DeLorme and Carl Rehm had receptions of 54 and 73 yards respectively.
The loss evens Whitehall’s record at 3-3 on the season and 2-1 in Class D North. Lake George is also 3-3, but improves to 3-0 in the division and holds the head-to-head tiebreaker against Whitehall.
The Railroaders are tied with Salem for second place in the division, with Warrensburg a half game behind. The first- and second-place teams in each division qualify for Sectionals. Fortunately for Whitehall, the team’s final two games are against both those teams, starting with Warrensburg tomorrow night at Ambrose Gilligan field.
“It’s must-win situation each week. If we win out, it takes care of itself,” Culligan said.
Friday’s game will be a rematch of last year’s 58-44 barn-burner won by Whitehall, which saw the teams combine for more than 800 yards of rushing.
In that game, Warrensburg had three runners go for more than 100 yards and after giving up large chunks of yardage on the ground last week, Culligan said he expects the Burghers to try and run the ball.
Warrensburg runs the double wing with most of its backs and receivers lined up tight behind the offensive line. “You can’t key on anything. Normally you find something to key on, but with this offense you can’t do that,” Culligan said. “The ends have to stay home and the linebackers are going to have to scrape and fill.”
Offensively, Whitehall will try to pound the ball through the middle of the defensive line. “We’re going to try and take advantage of their defense. They are very good at taking away the outside but I think we can run in up the middle.”
Whitehall will need a more balanced performance if they are going to win tomorrow. Friday’s game was a tale of two halves.
The Railroaders took a 16-0 lead on a pair of touchdown runs by Josh Hoagland in the first quarter and extended that lead early in the second quarter when Hoagland recovered a fumble and ran it 50 yards for the score.
But Labruzzo scored the first of his touchdowns with three minutes left in the half and the momentum carried over to the second half.
Lake George dominated the third quarter, recovering an onside kick and scoring two touchdowns.
The Warriors scored three times in the fourth quarter to extend its lead to 16 points. Whitehall tried to get back in the game in the fourth quarter as Paul Hanna scored on a six yard pass to cut into Lake George’s lead. But a block in the back penalty wiped out a 54 yard touchdown run that would have made it 40-36 with two minutes left and the Railroaders turned the ball over two plays later.
“It was a tough loss but I think the kids will come out ready to play next week,” Culligan said.
Kickoff for tomorrow’s game is at 7 p.m.