SCHENECTADY — With a spot in the Class A playoffs on the line Saturday afternoon, Queensbury and Niskayuna used every strength they had.
For the Spartans, it was their running game. For the Silver Warriors, it was their passing game and one memorable trick play.
Queensbury’s offense proved to be too much for Niskayuna, handing the Silver Warriors a 33-21 loss at Schenectady High School. But days, months and even years from now, fans who watched the game in person or online may be talking about Niskayuna’s successful hook-and-lateral play to close out the first half.
“We’ve heard it called the Silver Warrior Special,” Niskayuna coach Brian Grastorf said. “We actually missed it three or four times in a row in practice [this week], and that was against no defense.”
That didn’t deter
Grastorf from signaling in the play from the sideline in the closing seconds of the first half and Niskayuna trailing Queensbury 26-14.
Silver Warriors quarterback Dan Quinn dropped back and found Tyler Borwhat 11 yards upfield in front of the Niskayuna bench as the clock ticked down to halftime. As soon as he had the ball in his hands, he offered up a quick lateral to Leo O’Brien, who was racing down the same sideline. O’Brien had open turf in front him, and he took the ball the remaining 38 yards into the end zone as time expired in the half.
“Tyler caught the ball and made a nice catch,” O’Brien said. “Dan made a nice throw and we were just able to complete it.”
O’Brien wasn’t fazed when Grastorf sent in the play.
“There’s no pressure when you have the ball with a few seconds left,” O’Brien said. “It’s either an incomplete pass and you go to the half, or are you making the play [work] and score a touchdown. It just happened to go our way.”
Quinn wasn’t as nonchalant about the big play as O’Brien.
“When it was called, I was like, we need this,” Quinn said. “This is our momentum right here.”
For the play to have any success, it was in Quinn’s hands from the start.
“I know my guys,” Quinn said. “They know what they are doing out there. They’re good athletes. We [repeat] that pretty often in practice, so I knew if I got it there, they would do the rest for me.”
Once Quinn made his successful delivery, he became a spectator and a cheerleader as Borwhat made the quick toss to the speedy O’Brien.
“It definitely turned the tide for us there for a moment before the half,” Quinn said. “Everyone was up, excited, yelling. Definitely a big momentum shift right there for us.”
In the end, the day belonged to the Spartans and senior running back Jason Rodriguez, who ran for 274 yards on 28 carries and a touchdown. It was his 13th game with more than 100 yards rushing, tying former Spartan and older brother Brett Rodriguez for the team’s all-time mark.
Rodriguez bullied the Silver Warriors for 178 yards in the first half, before being limited to just 96 in the second half.
Niskayuna scored all three of its touchdowns in the first half before being shut out by Queensbury in the second half.
Quinn managed a 71-yard seven-play scoring drive, capped with his own 3-yard touchdown late in the first quarter. Quinn then found O’Brien for a 53-yard touchdown catch and run score midway through the second quarter.
Down 26-14, Grastorf made the call for the hook and ladder play.
“They [players] give me the look, give me the eye, like we’ve got this,” Grastorf said. “After it happens, they’ve got a smile on their face.
“It’s something that we’ve always had, and it’s fun when it works. I always hear coaches on the other sideline throughout the whole game yelling look for the hook and ladder, like it’s always something.”
With the win, Queensbury will face Troy in the Class A semifinals. Niskayuna’s crossover opponent will be announced today.
Queensbury 0 26 7 0 — 33
Niskayuna 7 14 0 0 — 21
N — Quinn 3 run (Pendergrast kick)
Q — Anderson 29 run (kick failed)
Q — Rodriguez 10 run (Anderson run)
N — O’Brien 53 pass from Quinn (Pendergrast kick)
Q — Hayes 15 run (run failed)
Q — Slattery 5 run (run failed)
N — O’Brien 49 pass from Quinn (Pendergrast kick)
Q — Anderson 3 run (Collins kick)