Schenectady equaled its best start in program history with a fantastic finish
The Patriots produced five unanswered touchdowns after falling behind for the first time this year, four of them coming in the second half, in a wild 64-42 Class AA Liberty Division victory at Niskayuna.
Quarterback Nick Ottati and tailback Marc Thompson had a hand in all five of those touchdowns, with the scoring splurge giving the Patriots a single-game record for points, and a 3-0 start for only the second time. The Patriots also opened at 3-0 in 2000, in what ended as a 4-5 campaign.
“At the half, we were a little down,” said Ottati, who passed for four touchdown and ran for another to spark the state’s No. 16-ranked team. “When we got in the locker room, the coaches got us fired up, and we stepped it up on offense and defense.”
Schenectady had not allowed a first-half point in season-opening wins against Shenendehowa and Colonie, yet found itself trailing,
42-27, after Dan Peters’ fourth touchdown pass for Niskayuna with 47.1 seconds left.
“Years ago, we would have been blown out of here. The kids showed their mental toughness,” said second-year Schenectady coach Carm DePoalo. “We told them in the locker room that they had to bring their hearts out there for the second half, and they did that.”
While the Patriots were putting up points over the final 24 minutes, the Silver Warriors (1-2) struggled against a reinvigorated Schenectady defense. Niskayuna’s six second-half drives ended on two punts, an interception by Anthony Cooper and three incomplete passes.
“It’s not like we quit. It’s not like we died. Just play after play after play, we couldn’t click,” said Niskayuna coach John Furey. “We couldn’t get it going. It was frustrating.”
Schenectady went ahead for good at 43-42 on Ottati’s 20-yard touchdown pass to Ozire Murphy and Ottati’s two-point conversion run with 5:17 remaining in the third quarter. The eight-play, 67-yard scoring drive featured passes to Cooper covering 18 and 12 yards, and were part of Ottati’s 13-for-18, 274-yard aerial performance.
“Nick puts the ball on the money. He doesn’t miss too many passes,” DePoalo said of the senior, who also ran for 51 yards. “Nick played great, but it was everybody tonight. We’re a band of brothers out there.”
Thompson scored on a three-yard run in the fouth quarter, Ottati reached the end zone on a 35-yard jaunt, and Thompson delivered his fourth touchdown on a one-yard dive to cap off Schenectady’s
“Our offense is explosive, in all aspects,” said Ottati, after the Patriots broke the team record of 58 points set against Columbia in 1999. “Running, passing. Everything.”
Niskayuna had the upper hand in the first half, though, with Peters finding Shawn Callahan and Peter Furey for two touchdowns apiece and reaching the end zone on a sprint of his own. Kadeem Miller added a touchdown for Niskayuna on an 81-yard kickoff return, which was followed by Herman Seise’s 83-yard scoring return for the Patriots.
“I’ve never been involved in a game like that,” said Furey, after the 15-touchdown spectacle. “It was pretty crazy out there.”
Ottati hit Cooper, Marcus Brandon and Thompson with first-half touchdown passes. Ottati’s 14-yarder to Thompson with 5.2 seconds left in the half, and Thompson’s two-point run began Schenectady comeback, making it 42-35.
“We had breakdowns. We made a couple of mistakes,” DePoalo said of the first half. “We did some things that we normally don’t do, but we got past it. I’m just happy to get out of here with a win.”
Thompson rushed for 151 yards on 34 carries, while Peters was
14-for-30 passing for 283 yards. Furey caught five passes for 125 yards and Callahan had five grabs for 113 yards, while Cooper led the Patriots with four receptions covering 106 yards.
“There are a few positives we can come out of here with,” Furey said. “Our kids know they can compete against a good team with good athletes, and Schenectady certainly has them. Another thing is the burn in their heart that comes with a game like this. Our kids are disappointed right now, but they’re going to be ready to practice and ready to play next week, I know it.”
Schenectady 7 28 8 21 — 64
Niskayuna 14 28 0 0 — 42
N — Callahan 5 pass from Peters (Rahn kick).
S — Cooper 53 pass from Ottati (Best kick).
N — Furey 53 pass from Peters (Rahn kick).
N — Peters 8 run (Rahn kick).
S — Brandon 30 pass from Ottati (Best kick).
S — Thompson 8 run (Best kick).
N — Miller 81 kickoff return (Rahn kick).
S — Seise 83 kickoff return (kick failed).
N — Callahan 64 pass from Peters (Rahn kick).
N — Furey 25 pass from Peters (Rahn kick).
S — Thompson 14 pass from Ottati (Thompson run).
S — Murphy 20 pass from Ottati (Ottati run).
S — Thompson 3 run (Thompson pass from Ottati).
S — Ottati 35 run (pass failed).
S — Thompson 1 run (Best kick).
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