SCHENECTADY — His Schenectady team trailing by seven points late in the first half Saturday, Damire Smith turned his first carry into a touchdown, breaking several attempted tackles by the Bethlehem defense on his way to the end zone.
“He gave us the spark,” Schenectady coach Carm DePoalo said of the junior fullback’s determined effort. “He’s a hard, hard runner.”
DePoalo provided some additional juice at halftime, and the Patriots got three more touchdown runs from Chris Davis afterward in a 28-7 Class AA win on Larry Mulvaney Field.
“Halftime was … a little loud,” DePoalo said. “It was a matter of playing football — blocking, tackling. In the first half, it wasn’t there.”
The second half was a completely different story as the Patriots improved to 2-1 with a bounce-back win after last week’s 28-0 loss to CBA.
“We got a little pep talk at halftime,” said Davis, a senior tailback who ran 26 times for 132 yards. “He [DePoalo] motivated us to work harder and get the job done.”
“Everybody had to get their heads on straight,” Smith said. “We were not going to lose to them.”
Smith ran 12 times in the second half after his 27-yard scoring burst gave the Patriots a jolt, and finished with 100 yards. Most of his yards came on dives up the middle.
“If I get hit, I do what I’ve got to do,” Smith said. “I keep pushing.”
“When we needed a few stops in the third quarter, he broke a couple on us and got first downs,” Bethlehem coach John Carlino said of Smith.
Smith’s second-half blocking, and that of center Marquize Barmore, proved to be key.
“Holes were opening up,” Davis said after running for 68 second-half yards on 12 carries.
“In the second half, they lined up shoe to shoe,” Carlino said. “We’ve got guys going both ways and they’ve got some big boys. We got tired.”
Schenectady caught a big break in the third quarter when Norman Booth knocked the ball from Bethlehem quarterback Landen Kawczak’s hand and recovered the fumble at the Eagles’ 23. Four plays later, Davis scored from the 8.
Davis finished off Schenectady’s next two drives with scoring runs of 13 and 5 yards. The latter was set up on a 25-yard dash by Smith and a 24-yard catch by Jakeim Edge that put the ball at the five.
“We came in thinking about last [season] and how they wanted revenge,” Davis said of a Schenectady win late in the 2019 season that kept Bethlehem from advancing to the Section II playoffs. “We wanted to make sure they didn’t get their revenge.”
“I’m sure this game was circled on their calender,” DePoalo said.
Joe Harvey turned a screen pass into a 3-yard touchdown run for Bethlehem in the second quarter, and Cian Serowick kicked the extra point. Smith scored on Schenectady’s next drive, but the score remained 7-6 when a conversion pass failed.
Harvey caught nine passes for 111 yards, ran six times for 20 yards, recovered a fumble and recorded a sack.
Schenectady plays Shaker next week, while Bethlehem plays Shenendehowa.
Bethlehem 0 7 0 0 — 7
Schenectady 0 6 6 16 — 28
B — Harvey 3 run (Serowick kick)
S — Smith 27 run (pass failed)
S — Davis 8 run (run failed)
S — Davis 13 run (Davis pass from Sanchez)
S — David 5 run (Smith run)