DOLGEVILLE. N.Y. – There is a team late in every season that believes it’s better than its record indicates. Thousand Islands is that type of team this year and the Vikings made their case with Saturday’s 28-20 win over the Dolgeville Blue Devils.
The Vikings (2-4) trailed the Blue Devils (4-2) 20-6 in the first half on the road but scored a touchdown just before halftime, tied the game on the opening drive of the second half and shut out the New York State Sportswriters Association’s ninth-ranked Class D team in the second half of surprising upset.
"All of our games have been close," Thousand Islands coach Ryan Kendall said. "We’ve been saying all week we’ve got to be the best 1-4 team around."
Three of the Vikings’ losses were decided by six points or less, one in overtime, a scenario not unfamiliar to Dolgeville coach Dan Zilkowski who repeated Kendall’s "best 1-4 team" claim.
"We’ve been living on the edge all year," said Zilkowski whose Blue Devils beat Onondaga 22-20 in overtime last week and came from behind to win games against Sauquoit Valley and Sandy Creek early in the season. "One (game) finally got us when we didn’t finish."
Dolgeville led 14-0 against Onondaga and held another 14-point lead in the first half Saturday. Second quarter touchdown runs by Kyle Getman and Connor Morse had the Blue Devils up 20-6 after the first quarter ended with an 8-6 lead.
The Blue Devils started the second quarter with a 24-yard pass from Greg Gonyea to Morse on fourth-and-five, and Getman ran 11 yards for his touchdown four plays later. The defense forced a quick punt, and Morse, who had caught one pass from Gonyea for the touchdown that opened the game’s scoring and another for the conversion, ran six yards for his second touchdown midway through the second quarter.
With clock winding down toward halftime, Vikings quarterback Connor MacKay threw a fourth down pass to Dylan Aznoe on a slant from the left side for a 33-yard touchdown. MacKay threw to Aznoe again for the conversion, and the Dolgeville lead was 20-14 at halftime.
Thousand Islands got the ball again to start the second half and wasted no time before tying the score. An errant pitch in the backfield left the Vikings facing third-and-19 on the third play of the half and MacKay stepped up and delivered a strike to Joey Melfi for a 69-yard touchdown.
MacKay, wearing 46 because after replacing his bloody No. 5 jersey at halftime, ran in the conversion and Thousand Islands led for the first time.
The Thousand Islands defense limited Dolgeville to a single first down in the third quarter and the offense added Emmet Baker’s second touchdown run of the game to extend the lead. Baker was stopped short of the goal line on the conversion, keeping Dolgeville within one score.
Dolgeville had a chance to tie after taking possession at its own 47 following a 16-yard punt by the Vikings early in the fourth quarter. Two quick runs gave the Blue Devils a first down on Thousand Islands’ side of the center stripe, and Getman dove four yards on fourth down for another. Dolgeville converted one more fourth down before Gonyea’s pass fell incomplete on fourth-and six from the 14.
Thousand Islands ran the final 3 ½ minutes off the clock. Facing fourth down from its own 23, Thousand Islands ran the play clock down and called a timeout at 1:44. The Vikings lined up to punt and snapped the ball to Baker; the upback churned out three yards for a first down, allowing MacKay to kneel twice to finish the game.
"It’s the riskiest thing I’ve done in my coaching career," Kendall, a fourth-year head coach after serving three as an assistant at Thousand Islands, said of the fake.
Morse ran for 71 yards and Getman had 70, each on 17 carries for the Blue Devils.
MacKay was five-for-eight passing for 130 yards, and Baker led the Vikings with 52 rushing yards.
Dolgeville finishes the regular season with a road trip to Beaver River where the Beavers (5-1) surprised previously unbeaten Frankfort-Schuyler (5-1) with a 43-38 victory Saturday. All eight Class D teams will advance to the Section III playoffs the following weekend, but Dolgeville is now tied for third place with Waterville/Hamilton (4-2) instead after entering Week 6 in a tie for second with Beaver River. The top four teams play at home in the quarterfinals.
THOUSAND ISLANDS 28, DOLGEVILLE 20
Thousand Islands 6 8 14 0 - 30
Dolgeville 8 12 0 0 - 20
DOL – Connor Morse 10 pass from Greg Gonyea (Morse pass from Getman), n/a.
TI – Baker 4 run (run failed), 4:28.
DOL – Kyle Getman 11 run (pass failed), 10:06.
DOL – Morse 6 run (pass failed), 5:35.
TI – Dylan Aznoe 33 pass from Connor MacKay (Aznoe pass from MacKay), 1:33.
TI – Joey Melfi 69 pass from MacKay (MacKay run), 10:21.
TI – Baker 12 run (run failed), 1:47.
Records – Thousand Islands 2-4, 2-4 Class D; Dolgeville 4-2, 4-2 Class D.