Danny Peters and his teammates could finally exhale.
Niskayuna weathered a furious last-minute drive by Shenendehowa to the 14-yard line with three chances to score, but the Silver Warriors held the Plainsmen off and held on for a wild 34-28 victory in the Section II Class AA quarterfinals Friday night.
No. 3 seed Niskayuna (6-2) advances to the semifinals for a rematch with neighboring rival and top-seeded Schenectady next week.
Peters threw three touchdowns and sprinted for a pair of 43-yard touchdowns to lead Niskayuna. Peters went 14-for-24 passing for 247 yards with no interceptions. Peters also ran for 174 yards on 19 carries and added an interception on defense, one of seven turnovers by both teams.
Kadeem Miller caught all three of Peters’ touchdown passes, each 13 yards or longer, and picked off a pass on defense. Miller caught six passes for 69 yards. Miller also defended Bryan Smith on the game’s last play, Andrew Kalish’s final pass attempt went just slightly too deep beyond the back left corner of the end zone with the clock running out. As the ball landed, the Silver Warriors came charging down the field and sideline in celebration.
“Every time the ball went in the air, my heart was stopped,” Peters said. “That last play — great coverage by Kadeem and great coverage by the secondary that whole time.
“It’s something totally different,” Miller said. “Especially at Shenendehowa — the crowd noise, everything seemed to be going their way, but I just had that little feeling that we were going to win this game.”
Bronson Greene led Shen (5-3) with 131 yards rushing on 23 carries, scoring two touchdowns.
Niskayuna never trailed in the game, but the teams tied twice — at 7-7 after Greene ran 33 yards for a TD on Shen’s second play of the game midway through the first quarter, and at 21-21, when Greene ran for a five-yard score and
Kalish threw a two-point conversion to Mike Daly with 5:47 to go in the second quarter.
The Plainsmen only once trailed by more than a touchdown, when Peters scored on his second
43-yard TD run of the second half to put Niskayuna ahead, 34-21. Gregg Rahn’s extra-point attempt banked off the left upright — his only miss of the night — making Shen’s final drive even more nail-biting for both sides.
“Peters is a handful,” Shenendehowa coach Brent Steuerwald said. “He’s a very outstanding athlete. He took the game in his hands when he had to. We had difficulty controlling what they do well; they had difficulty controlling us. We knew it would be an offensive shootout.”
As it ended, the Plainsmen began their drive from their own 47-yard line with 54 seconds remaining and the Warriors clinging to a six-point lead. Kalish completed passes of 14 and 10 yards, both to Tyler Dehmer, to reach Niskayuna’s 29. But after three incompletions, a pass interference call on fourth down gave the Plainsmen new life, bringing them to the 14-yard line with 13 seconds left.
But the Silver Warriors defended against three incompletions.
Of all the turnovers, Steuerwald noted the biggest might have come near the end of the first quarter. Tied, 7-7, the Plainsmen drove 38 yards in six plays to the Warriors’ seven-yard line before Nick Schuler recovered a Bronson Greene fumble.
Though Niskayuna did not score on their ensuring drive, the Silver Warriors did manage to score the next touchdown later in the quarter.
“That,” Steuerwald said, “was the turning point in the game. If we had scored on that drive, now we’re one up and they’re playing catch-up the whole game.”
Niskayuna 7 14 7 6 — 34
Shenendehowa 7 6 8 7 — 28
N — Miller 13 pass from Peters (Rahn kick)
S — Greene 33 run (Millington kick)
N — Miller 17 pass from Peters (Rahn kick)
S — Banks 4 run (kick wide)
N — Miller 16 pass from Peters (Rahn kick)
S — Green 5 run (Daly pass from Kalish)
N — Peters 43 run (Rahn kick)
N — Peters 43 run (kick wide)
S — Daly 5 run (Millington kick)
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Categories: High School Sports