Undefeated Holland Patent cruises into semis
A Holland Patent football team loaded with seniors piled up 315 yards rushing to beat Thousand Islands, 42-6, on Friday night at Rome Free Academy Stadium in the Section III Class C quarterfinals.
Most of the damage was done by senior running back Jason Haas, who ran for 222 yards and three scores on 23 attempts.
After the Vikings scored first against the top seeded Golden Knights, Holland Patent corrected course and fed Haas a steady diet of counter plays right up the middle.
“We knew coming in we could run the ball so we did,” said HP head coach Brian Briggs. Of Haas, he said: “He’s a tough kid. Day in and day out, he shows up.” Haas said it’s been a memorable year. “Last year was pretty rough. It’s been night and day.”
Trailing 6-0, HP took the ball late in the first quarter and drove 61 yards.
On the fourth play, Haas took a handoff and headed toward the right sideline, stiff arming a would be tackler to the ground and then heading back to the middle of the field before crossing the goal line to complete a 44-yard scoring play. The extra point kick by Josh Ernst made it 7-6 Golden Knights with just under a minute left in the first quarter.
The Vikings would threaten several more times in the game but time and time again the HP defense forced punts or made stops on fourth down.
With 7:22 left in the first half, quarterback Nick Herringshaw snuck in from one yard out for the second touchdown. On the first play of the team’s next drive, the Golden Knights gave the ball to Devante Rehm on an end around and he scampered up the right sideline for a 35-yard score. A quick pass from Griffin Briggs to Herringshaw, who was split out, for the two-point conversion made it 21-6. Thousand Islands seemed to have the answer when it took the ensuing kickoff back for a touchdown but it was called back for a block in the back deep in Viking territory.
Holland Patent opened the second half with a scoring drive to push the lead to 28-6. Haas capped the drive with a four-yard run up the middle. When the team stopped Thousand Islands again on downs, it took over on the opponents’ 29 and seven plays later Herringshaw plunged in from the one on a fourth down sneak attempt to make it 35-6.
Haas scored again with 2:28 left in the contest when he rumbled in from 28 yards, again using the stiff arm to plow to pay dirt. That made it 42-6.
“It seems like every game we start it out slow, then we lock it down,” Briggs said of the early deficit that turned into a solid defensive performance. He said one key this season has been adding Herringshaw on defense after initially giving him rest by playing him only on offense.
The defense held Thousand Islands to 232 yards of total offense. Hunter Tarbania led the team with 11 tackles and 1 1/2 sacks. Mike Cummings had 6 1/2 tackles. Nick Fassett had 4 1/2 tackles and one-half a sack. Mike Benedetto had 4 1/2 tackles and a sack.
Herringshaw went to the air less than has been typical for this offense as Haas carried the load for the team.
The quarterback hit on five of 10 attempts for 104 yards through the air. He was intercepted once.
The playoff win was the first for the program since Briggs’ first year in 2014, when the team beat Thousand Islands that year. Now HP moves on to the semifinals to face 7-1 Lowville next weekend at a neutral site and time yet to be determined.
Lowville advanced in another quarterfinal game on Friday with a 30-0 win over Mount Markham.
The team has proven it can win without home field advantage, as it has been playing home games on the road all season while extensive work is done to the football field and track.