ROTTERDAM — After giving up back-to-back touchdowns to Niskayuna in a three-minute stretch of Saturday’s second quarter, Schalmont football coach Joe Whipple huddled his Sabres on the sideline.
“We just had to rally together and tell them how important they are and what they can do — and to do what they’re supposed to do,” Whipple said. “They rallied. We played a very sloppy, sloppy game with a lot of injuries, but I was very proud of our kids and how they fought.”
Dominant a week prior in their “Fall II” opener against Hudson, the Sabres needed to show their scrappy side Saturday in a non-classification game against Niskayuna. Schalmont’s defense buckled down after some early struggles containing Niskayuna running back Cole Wade, and senior Trent Randle had a hand in all four of Schalmont’s touchdowns with three short runs and a 30-yard pass to Ethan Coom in a 27-13 victory at Mohonasen High School.
The non-classification game was pulled together midweek after previously scheduled opponents — Ravena-Coeymans-Selkirk for Schalmont, Ballston Spa for Niskayuna — were unable to play due to COVID-19 issues within their respective programs.
The numbers for Schalmont (2-0) were nowhere near as gaudy as they were in the 51-0 win over Hudson, when running back Rodney Parker and Randle combined for 571 rushing yards and six touchdowns. With the team down multiple starters on the offensive line due to injury, including top lineman Logan DeFilipps, Schalmont received 82 yards on 16 carries from Parker and 81 yards on 23 attempts from Randle.
But, after the slow start, Schalmont found its groove and closed the game with 27 straight points.
“We definitely needed to bounce back,” Randle, the team’s senior quarterback and safety, said. “Our defense was sloppy.”
Randle’s touchdown pass to Coom got Schalmont on the board, and the Schalmont defense forced a quick three-and-out — punctuated by one of Parker’s two sacks on the day — to get the ball back, setting up a drive to take a 14-13 lead on Randle’s 1-yard touchdown run with 13 seconds left in the half.
Coming out of halftime, Darius Green returned the opening kickoff 71 yards to the Niskayuna 9, with Randle scoring from a yard out two plays later.
From there, it was the Schalmont defense that set the tone, allowing just three plays longer than 10 yards in the game’s final two-and-a-half quarters.
“Usually, our offense gets us going,” Whipple said. “Today, our defense got us going.”
“Their running back [Wade], he was killing us,” Randle said. “He was getting eight yards, 10 yards, 15 yards every play. Our adjustment was playing overly aggressive and getting more guys in the box, and then manning up [against their receivers].”
Wade finished with 80 yards on 18 carries for Niskayuna (1-2), and was held to 24 yards on nine second-half rushes. Niskayuna quarterback Dan Quinn was 13 of 22 for 90 yards.
“Our defense played great, and I thought we had some good things going [on offense],” Niskayuna coach Brian Grastorf said. “But we kept shooting ourselves in the foot a little bit and couldn’t sustain any drives. That’s things we need to work on. We ran the ball better today, but we need to get the passing game back on track.”
After Randle’s second rushing touchdown, the second half consisted of a series of turnovers and stalled drives before Schalmont put the game out of reach on its final drive, with Randle scoring a 3-yard touchdown with six seconds left.
Niskayuna 0 13 0 0—13
Schalmont 0 14 6 7—27
N — Wade 13 run (Pendergrast kick)
N — Wade 2 run (Kick fail)
S — Coom 30 pass from Randle (Shultis kick)
S — Randle 1 run (Shultis kick)
S — Randle 1 run (Kick fail)
S — Randle 3 run (Shultis kick)