SYRACUSE – It’s not how you start, but how you finish that matters.
The Glens Falls football team followed that statement to the letter to claim its second New York State Public High School Athletic Association title in three years by racing past Batavia (Section 5) 55-32 in the state finals Saturday, Nov. 24, at the Carrier Dome.
After falling behind 14-0 in the first quarter, the Indians (11-2) tied the score on touchdown runs by quarterback Joseph Girard III and Aalijah Sampson. Ray Leach gave Batavia the lead back on an 83-yard touchdown run, but Girard connected with David Barclay on a 33-yard scoring strike and Sam Hogan added the extra point to put Glens Falls in front 21-20 at halftime.
The Indians carried that momentum into the second half. Girard burst through for a 3-yard touchdown run early in the third quarter and then connected with Trent Girard for a 55-yard touchdown pass to help Glens Falls pad its lead to 15 points. Sampson added a 24-yard scoring run early in the fourth quarter to put the game out of Batavia’s reach.
Leach did what he could to keep Batavia in the game. The senior running back gained more than 400 yards for the third consecutive week and found the end zone four times, including a pair of touchdown runs of 80 or more yards. Tacked on to his past three playoff performances, Leach racked up more than 1,600 yards and 26 touchdowns.
However, Leach alone could not compensate for what Girard and Sampson did for Glens Falls. Girard threw for 314 yards and two touchdowns, to go along with his two scoring runs. Sampson carried the ball 23 times for 135 yards and four touchdowns.
Sampson’s performance against Batavia capped a four-game stretch during which the sophomore rushed for nearly 500 yards and nine touchdowns. Girard also came up big during Glens Falls’ run to the state title, throwing for 900 yards and seven touchdowns in state-level victories over Beekmantown, Marlboro and Batavia.