CLIFTON PARK — Jake Iacobaccio put Shaker in a great position to win Friday night’s early-season football showdown with Shenendehowa, and soon after, he made certain the Blue Bison did just that.
The emerging sophomore star ran for a touchdown late in the fourth quarter and ended Shenendehowa’s ensuing drive with an interception to clinch a 28-14 victory in a game that matched Class AA unbeatens at Brent Steuerwald Stadium.
“Coach told me to go out there and look for the ball,” Iacobaccio said.
The sophomore transfer from CBA did a lot of good things with the ball, including a touchdown pass to Dwayne Newkirk as part of a 21-0 first-half run. In his first three games with Shaker (2-0 Class AA, 3-0 overall), the young quarterback has four touchdown passes and six TD runs.
“He did a good job of directing traffic out there and using the weapons around him,” Shaker coach Greg Sheeler said of Iacobaccio. “He’s only a sophomore and there’s plenty of room to grow, but to step up in a big game like this, that’s a testament to him.”
Shenendehowa (1-1, 2-1) quarterback Mason Courtney engineered a pair of scoring drives in the second half, the second touchdown coming with 6:29 to go,
before Shaker sealed the win with its clutch plays and continued a recent string of successes against the Plainsmen.
Shaker defeated Shenendehowa in the “Fall II” season back in March 20-0, and won by the same score as Friday night’s outcome in the 2019 campaign.
“Losing stinks,” Courtney said. “Once you lose once, you never want to have that feeling again. We’re viewing this as fire we needed to get back after it.”
Shenendehowa got after it in the second half but could not rally for the win like it had in beating Queensbury and Guilderland to begin its season.
“We knew we were going to get their best shot,” Sheeler said of the Plainsmen’s second-half comeback bid. “We knew they’d play well, and they certainly did.”
Patrick House scored on a 1-yard run and Danny Morris kicked the extra point to get Shenendehowa within 21-14 before Preston Frazier recovered an onside kick attempt by the Plainsmen.
“It’s 21-14 and Shenendehowa is doing a good job attacking us on the perimeter,” Sheeler said. “That was a huge play [by Frazier] to give us possession.”
“On that onside, Preston went up and grabbed it,” Iacobaccio said. “It was huge.”
Iacobaccio made it that much bigger when he bolted 28 yards to the end zone six plays into Shaker’s follow-up drive, and Steven Sadek delivered his fourth PAT.
“I was just looking for a first down,” Iacobaccio said. “The line blocked great, and it was there.”
Iacobaccio ran 15 times for a game-leading 138 yards, while through the air he was 5-for-8 passing for 114 yards with his TD and an interception.
“He’s an athlete,” Courtney said of his counterpart. “Once he gets out of the pocket he is quick. He’s strong. He got loose a couple of times and made a couple of great plays.”
Iacobaccio ran 35 yards on the game’s first play from scrimmage, and his 40-yard pass to Garrett Blind set up Porter Ninstant’s 1-yard scoring run.
A bad punt snap helped set up Shaker’s second first-quarter touchdown, that coming on a 5-yard run by Donovan Walker. In the second quarter, Iacobaccio’s 53-yard run was soon followed by his 33-yard touchdown pass to Newkirk.
Shenendehowa’s best chance to score in the opening half ended with a missed 25-yard field goal try by Morris.
“Shen guys don’t quit.” said Courtney, who ran 11 times for 69 yards and was 16-for-25 passing for 152 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions. “Putting up a goose egg [in the first half] lit a fire. We fired back with all we had but it was too little too late.”
Luke McAuliffe scored on a 9-yard pass in the third quarter for Shenendehowa. The Plainsmen made it a one-touchdown game in the fourth, with a 29-yard pass to Chase Vincent and a 15-yard dash by Courtney setting up House’s TD.
Two Shenendehowa’s possessions earlier in the second half ended on an interception by Ryan Mazzariello on a fourth-and-four from the Shaker 21, and on an incomplete Courtney pass on a fourth-and-six from the Shaker nine.
Shaker 14 7 0 7 — 28
Shenendehowa 0 0 7 7 — 14
Shak — Ninstant 1 run (Sadek kick)
Shak — Walker 5 run (Sadek kick)
Shak — Newkick 33 pass from Iacobaccio (Sadek kick)
Shen — McAuliffe 9 pass from Courtney (Morris kick)
Shen — House 1 run (Morris kick)
Shak — Iacobaccio 28 run (Sadek kick)