There was a banner hanging on the Troy bleachers that read, “Same colors. Same Game. But the only difference is we’re better.”
It was directed at the Amsterdam football team, and after the Rugged Rams put together a game-starting touchdown drive, the Flying Horses were, indeed, the better team Friday night.
Quarterback Zach Dolan kick-started a 20-point second-quarter outburst with a 67-yard dash to the end zone, and Troy’s defense threw a shutout over the final three quarters in a 34-6 Class A non-division blistering of its longtime rival at Lynch Middle School.
Tailback Fred Fitch produced two of his three touchdowns in the second period, and linebacker Anthony Paone put an exclamation mark on a superb defensive performance by returning an interception 37 yards for a score with 4:28 to go.
The victory left Troy 2-0, and Amsterdam 0-2 for the first time since 1993, with division games coming up over the next five weeks.
“No team has taken the ball down the field like that on us in the last two years,” Troy coach Jack Burger said of Amsterdam’s 14-play,
63-yard march, which was capped by Ben Miseikis’ touchdown run. “That was a wake-up call.”
After Miseikis’ four-yard touchdown run 4:52 into the first game between the teams since 2004, Amsterdam had little success moving the ball or stopping Troy from doing so.
“If we didn’t put the ball on the ground, that would have been a complete game,” said Burger, whose Flying Horses lost three fumbles in the rain. “We’ll keep working at it. You’re always striving for excellence.”
Troy’s offensive line of Trevor Ryan, Isaiah Hunt, Mike Lewandowski, David Jabour and Stan Cooper came close to achieving that, opening up holes for Fitch to gain 155 yards on 20 carries. The Flying Horses piled up 280 rushing yards in all, while Amsterdam managed 97.
“The holes were wide, and we powered the ball,” said Fitch, a senior, after his second 100-plus yard performance. “Everybody who ran the ball had holes. The offensive line sets everything up for us.”
“The offensive line is going to decide if you win or lose,” Dolan added. “That’s how important those guys are.”
“Our offensive line has been great the last two games,” said Burger, whose Flying Horses rushed for 297 yards in a 40-13 pummeling of Queensbury last week. “It starts with the guys up front. All of our great teams had guys who blocked well and moved people off the ball.”
Dolan broke off his long run two plays into the second quarter on an option keeper, and a 44-yard punt return by Paul Ashburn set up Fitch’s one-yard touchdown jaunt. Fitch scored again in the second quarter on a 33-yard dash after breaking a pair of tackles, and zipped 32 yards for a fourth-quarter touchdown.
“In football, sometimes you’ve got to come back. You’ve got to keep fighting,” said Dolan, a senior and three-year starter. “Everything started falling into place for us in that second quarter. We kicked it into high gear on offense and defense.”
Troy’s defense harrassed Amsterdam quarterback Frank Peluso all night, with Dorrel Williams, Nic Capano, Mark Millington and Cooper recording sacks, and Sean McDermott recovering a fumble to end the Rugged Rams final drive.
“We’ve got an experienced defense. Nine guys [starters] are back from last year,” said Dolan, after his team held Amsterdam to 172 yards of total offense. “They’re aggressive, and they can play.”
Amsterdam played its best ball early on, with Miseikis running for nine and 11 yards, and Peluso passing to Josh Merge for 14 yards and Miseikis for 19 during its scoring march. Miseikis gained the end zone on a right sprint and dive.
“In practice, it goes that way, too,” Amsterdam coach Pat Liverio said of his team’s inability to follow up its early success. “Things go wrong, and we get down. Then things start to break down.”
Things went from bad to worse for the Rams in the final minutes when running back Austin Poulin sustained a broken leg on his only carry, and, after a long delay, was carted off the field.
“He’s a small kid, but he’s a hard worker. He comes ready every day,” Liverio said of the 5-foot-7, 165-pound junior. “What we need is for the 39 guys we have left to come to practice and work like that kid every day. It’s the only way we’re going to get better.”
Miseikis led Amsterdam with 72 rushing yards on 17 carries and recovered one of the Troy fumbles.
Troy 0 20 0 14 — 34
Amsterdam 6 0 0 0 — 6
A — Miseikis 4 run (kick failed).
T — Dolan 67 run (Chattoo kick).
T — Fitch 1 run (kick failed).
T — Fitch 33 run (Chattoo kick).
T — Fitch 32 run (Chattoo kick).
T — Paone 37 interception return (Chattoo kick).
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