AVERILL PARK — The Amsterdam football team came to play Friday night, and the Rugged Rams’ coach tried to capitalize on the squad’s momentum and go for the win late in a wild contest.
His team down seven points late in the fourth quarter, Amsterdam quarterback Tommy Ziskin rushed for a touchdown from a dozen yards out. The call then came from Amsterdam first-year head coach John Homich to go for the 2-point conversion with 18 seconds left, and seek the win on the road.
“We talked about it at the beginning of the season — we were going to be aggressive. It’s what these kids worked so hard for,” Homich said. “We had a great week of practice for the first time in a long time and every single day was a good day.”
“We’re going for the win at that point,” Homich said. “Definitely going for the win.”
But so, too, was Averill Park, which had a great stop left in it. Ziskin took the snap on the 2-point attempt, handed the ball off to Amsterdam running back Garrett McHeard who headed up the middle, but the Warriors’ defense swarmed the runner to end the threat as Averill Park escaped with a wild 41-40 Class A win.
The Amsterdam-Averill Park series has a history of offensive showcases in the last decade. Amsterdam picked up a wild 56-44 win over the Warriors in 2013, with Averill Park returning the favor in even crazier fashion the next year with a 58-56 victory.
But Friday’s 40-point explosion by the Rams was a surprise.
After the team’s scheduled opener against Albany was called off due to COVID-19 quarantine issues within the Amsterdam program, the Rams struggled mightily in their first two games of the season — especially on the offensive end. The season started on a sour note with a 55-6 loss to Capital Division frontrunner Troy and was followed up by a mistake-plagued 25-8 home loss to La Salle Institute. Amsterdam did not score an offensive point until the fourth quarter in either of its first two games.
The Rams appeared poised to get it first win of the season after a 15-play, 81-yard drive was capped by Ziskin’s 15-yard touchdown toss to Louie Gonzalez with 1:25 left to give Amsterdam a 34-33 lead.
But Averill Park’s Ben Ferlito returned the ensuing kickoff 70 yards, and the successful extra point gave the Warriors a 41-34 lead before the Rams final drive.
“We’re down to 34 guys and every guy is being used on almost every single team,” Homich said. “We’re trying to get guys back on the special-teams unit, but also being on offense and defense they needed a [breather] and unfortunately it came back to bite us today.”
Amsterdam dropped to 0-3 with the loss, while Averill Park improved to 2-2.
Louie Gonzalez scored three touchdowns for Amsterdam, while Garrett McHeard and Josiah Newborn each joined Ziskin in scoring one. Ziskin also passed for three touchdowns.
Leading Averill Park was Daniel McShane with three touchdowns.
6 15 7 12 — 40
7 14 6 14 — 41
Am — Gonzalez 13 run (Kick failed)
AP — Heffner 8 run (Hansen kick)
AP — Heffner 1 run (Hansen kick)
Am — Gonzalez 42 pass from Ziskin (Conversion good)
AP — McShane 19 run (Hansen kick)
Am — Newborn 21 pass from Ziskin (Welch kick)
Am — McHeard 2 run (Welch kick)
AP — McShane 5 run (Kick failed)
AP — McShane 41 run (Conversion failed)
Am — Gonzalez 15 pass from Ziskin (Conversion failed)
AP — Ferlito 70 kickoff return (Conversion good)
Am — Ziskin 11 run (Conversion failed)