NISKAYUNA — Leo O’Brien was involved in a lot of significant plays for the Niskayuna football team Friday night, but there was one he wishes he could try again.
“I saw him coming, and I tried to jump the route,” O’Brien said of his pick-six attempt that led to a Scotia-Glenville touchdown. “Inches away.”
But O’Brien found himself in the end zone five plays after his interception bid, and scored his third touchdown later in the third quarter as part of Niskayuna’s 44-26 Class A win over the Tartans.
“He just missed making a big play,” Niskayuna coach Brian Grastorf said of O’Brien, a senior wide receiver and cornerback. “With a kid like Leo, I’m coming right back to him, and he made it happen.”
Niskayuna made a lot of things happen in its first home game since the 2019 season, including four sacks on defense and five touchdown passes from Dan Quinn. Two of those went to O’Brien covering 57 and 36 yards in the third quarter when the Silver Warriors’ lead ballooned to 41-6.
“This feels amazing,” O’Brien said. “When we played here the last time, we never guessed that we might not play here again.”
With its grass field still drying out, Niskayuna (2-2) opened its “Fall II” season on turf fields, with a win at Mohonasen, a loss at Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake, and another setback against Schalmont at Mohonasen.
“The seniors wanted to play here,” said Grastorf, whose 12th-graders were honored Friday night. “The grounds people did a great job getting the field ready.”
“We grew up on this field,” Niskayuna senior linebacker Nick Vitolins said. “It was great to be back here and play great on senior night.”
O’Brien caught nine passes for 185 yards including his redeeming 57-yarder in the third frame when he beat the Tartans’ secondary. On Scotia-Glenville’s drive before that, Cil Blankenship caught a sideline pass that O’Brien lunged for and just missed, and Blankinship turned it into a 75-yard scoring play.
“I’m just so lucky my teammates and coaches have faith in me and gave me a chance to do it,” O’Brien said of his second touchdown grab.
In the second quarter, O’Brien turned a short screen pass into a 48-yard touchdown dash. Tyler Borwhat caught scoring passes covering 29 and 19 yards in the second and third quarters, respectively.
“After our last game where the offense stalled out [in a 27-13 loss to Schalmont], the guys picked it up and made some big plays,” Grastorf said. “We’ve been waiting to break a few long plays like that.”
Quinn was 18 of 26 passing for 291 yards, and Cole Wade ran 12 times for 48 yards and a touchdown.
Tony Cianfarani made a couple of big plays for Scotia-Glenville (1-1) in the fourth quarter against the Niskayuna reserves, with a 30-yard interception return for a touchdown and 15-yard scoring reception.
“Everyone brought it,” Vitolins said of Niskayuna’s defensive performance. “The front line, the defensive backs, linebackers — just a solid effort. We practiced all week like that, and to do it in the game is a great feeling.”
“Our defensive coordinator [Peter Furey] had a great game plan and all week he brought energy to practice,” Grastorf said.
Scotia-Glenville 0 0 6 20 — 26
Niskayuna 6 14 21 3 — 44
N — Wade 12 run (kick failed)
N — O’Brien 48 pass from Quinn (Pendergrast kick)
N — Borwhat 29 pass from Quinn (Pendergrast kick)
SG — Blankinship 75 pass from Armstrong (Kick failed)
N — O’Brien 57 pass from Quinn (Pendergrast kick)
N — Borwhat 19 pass from Quinn (Pendergrast kick)
N — O’Brien 36 pass from Quinn (Pendergrast kick)
SG — Buridge 10 pass from Armstrong (Carlisle kick)
SG — Cianfarani 30 interception return (Carlisle kick)
N — Pendergrast 27 FG
SG — Cianfarani 15 pass from Armstrong (Conversion failed)