CLIFTON PARK — Shenendehowa made a three-and-out defensive stop and scored a quick touchdown to begin Friday’s Class AA Empire Division semifinal game with Schenectady at Steuerwald Stadium.
Then, the Plainsmen did it again.
“That gave us momentum. We made a statement,” Shenendehowa senior fullback Jaysiah Woodrow said. “Right there, it’s catch a mouse.”
Schenectady tried to do that, but Shenendehowa instead continued to pull away in what was a 42-8 win that set up a rematch with Guilderland next week from the 2019 Section II large-school title game.
Dyvante Terrelonge zipped 55 yards for a touchdown on Shenendehowa’s first play from scrimmage, and capped the Plainsmen’s second drive with a 44-yard scoring catch from Brody Vincenzi. The duo hooked up again later on, and Vincenzi added another scoring toss as part of Shenendehowa’s fourth straight victory since starting its “Fall II” season with a 20-0 loss to Shaker (Liberty Division No. 1, 5-0).
Those four wins against Colonie, CBA, Bethlehem and Schenectady have come by a combined 184-21 margin.
“When you play the machine, it’s tough,” Schenectady coach Carm DePoalo said. “They’re a good football team. They laid it on us.”
Shenendehowa (Empire No. 2, 4-1) led 42-0 before Chris Davis scored on a 39-yard run for Schenectady (No. 3, 2-3) early in the fourth quarter. Another one of Schenectady’s few big plays came just before that when Damire Smith took a screen pass 35 yards.
“One of our big things was, ‘No big gains,'” said Terrelonge, a senior receiver and cornerback. “No big plays. We did our job on defense.”
“Our defense is very, very good,” Shenendehowa coach Brian Clawson said. “It’s not one or two superstars. It’s 11 good football players who are fundamentally sound. They are sound tacklers who play well together.”
Shenendehowa will play at Guilderland (No. 1, 3-1) next Friday at 7 p.m. in the Empire title game. Shenendehowa defeated Guilderland 35-7 in the 2019 Section II Class AA championship game on its way to the state semifinals.
“Guilderland put up 21 against [Liberty Division No. 1, 5-0] Shaker,” Woodrow said. “We put up zero. It’s going to be a tough matchup,”
Guilderland received a semifinal bye because its scheduled opponent, Saratoga Springs (No. 4, 1-3), is currently on COVID-19 pause.
“Every single year, [Guilderland coach] Dan Penna does a good job with his team,” Clawson said. “They have a hard offense to defend. They’ve got skill players. A good line on both sides. We’ll have to have a great week of practice.”
Clawson said his group had that prior to the Schenectady game, and it showed with their execution on both sides of the ball.
Terrelonge was the offensive star with his three touchdowns that included a 35-yard reception in the second quarter. Woodrow had scored on a 1-yard burst earlier in the quarter.
“You’ve seen the progression from his sophomore, junior and senior year. He’s gotten better every year,” Clawson said of Terrelonge, a Daily Gazette All-Area second-team pick in 2019. “You put the ball in his hands, and something special happens. He’s a special kid.”
Jake Stack intercepted a pass to set up Terrelonge’s 35-yard score, and afterward, Carter Cuckerstein recovered a fumble on Schenectady’s kickoff return to set up a 2-yard TD run by Kyle Acker as Shenendehowa’s lead grew to 35-0 late in the first half.
“We wanted to get out to a big lead so our second string could get some game reps,” Terrelonge said. “Those guys are so important in our preparation for games. They deserve to get playing time.”
Terrelonge was the game’s leading rusher with 79 yards, though he only ran three times, and the contest’s top receiver with his 79 yards on those two TD catches. Vincenzi was 7-for-9 passing for 130 yards with an interception and another scoring toss to John Maneri that went for 17 yards.
“We’re showing signs, but tonight we had to many breakdowns,” DePoalo said.
The last time Schenectady made a playoff appearance, in 2012, the Patriots lost to Shaker 28-21 in a Section II Class AA semifinal. Schenectady’s first playoff win, incidentally, came against Shenendehowa 27-7 in a 2001 Class AA quarterfinal.
Schenectady 0 0 0 8 — 8
Shenendehowa 14 21 7 0 — 42
Sh — Terrelonge 55 run (Morris kick)
Sh — Terrelonge 44 pass from Vincenzi (Morris kick)
Sh — Woodrow 1 run (Morris kick)
Sh — Terrelonge 35 pass from Vincenzi (Morris kick)
Sh — Acker 2 run (Morris kick)
Sh — Maneri 17 pass from Vincenzi (Barrett kick)
Sc — Davis 39 run (Sanchez run)