Big second half lifts Amsterdam football past Schenectady

Amsterdam quarterback Jhai Vellon high steps into the end zone past Schenectady's Jevin Moore on Friday.
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Amsterdam quarterback Jhai Vellon high steps into the end zone past Schenectady's Jevin Moore on Friday.

SCHENECTADY — Amsterdam and Schenectady were in a pretty good scrap for two quarters Friday night in the non-classification season-starting football game for both teams, with each reaching the end zone once.

Amsterdam pretty much owned the next two quarters, which included touchdowns on three consecutive possessions, to prevail 32-6 in a matchup between old Big 10 rivals looking to make further strides than a season ago.

“We were discouraged with how we played in the first half,” Amsterdam coach John Homich said after the road win at Larry Mulvaney Field. “The second half was more like we had scripted.”

That script had the Rugged Rams scoring often, and with the contest up for grabs, they did just that behind the exploits of many led by quarterback Jhai Vellon.

Vellon passed to Louis Gonzalez to begin the second-half scoring and later ran for a pair of touchdowns — the senior’s second and third of the game — to help his team pull away.

Vellon also ran for a two-pointer in the first half and passed for three of them in the second half.

“Do me,” Vellon said when asked about his second-half performance. “Do what I do best. Make plays.”

Schenectady made most of its big plays in the first half including two defensive takeaways and one-yard quarterback sneak into the end zone by Nik Sanchez.

“I’m happy with a lot of things we did out there,” said Schenectady coach Carm DePoalo, whose team is looking to bounce back after a three-win 2021 season. “We forced a couple of turnovers. We moved people with our line. They were physical and we were physical. Some youthful mistakes hurt us, but it was a great learning experience against a great team.”

Amsterdam looked great at times in that big second half.

“Jo’el [Baker] was saying we needed to step it up,” Vellon said of his senior teammate. “We went out and took it to them. Our energy picked up.”

Vellon ran 24 yards to help set up his 29-yard scoring pass to Gonzalez on a fourth-and-15 play, and Vellon followed with a two-point pass to Ceasar Thompson to kick-start the Rams’ second half.

Vellon surged one yard for the Rams next touchdown early in the fourth quarter after he broke off runs of 23, 11 and 18 yards late in the third.

“The Vellon kid is very good,” DePoalo said of the 2021 Section II Class A Offensive Player of the Year. “The kid is a superstar. He’s an aggressive player and a smart player.”

Vellon produced his third TD on a 3-yard, fourth-quarter run.

“He’s our main leader. He said, ‘Let me take charge,’ and that’s what he did,” Homich said of Vellon, who ran 10 times for 110 yards and was 5 for 8 passing for 75 yards with his TD and an interception. “In big moments, big guys step up.”

Schenectady’s big offensive line and young group of running backs stepped in the first half when the Patriots put together three lengthy, time-consuming drives that ended, in order, on downs, on Sanchez’ one-yard TD run (his two-point conversion pass failed), and as time expired.

“In the first half, they had the ball a lot, and they were running up the middle on us,” Vellon said. “We cleaned it up.”

Amsterdam got a six-yard TD run from Vellon in the second quarter to answer Sanchez’ score, and the Rams quarterback followed with a two-point run to put his team up 8-6.

Amsterdam also lost the ball twice in the first half when Jakeim Edge intercepted a pass and  Syron Canteen recovered a fumble.

“We were over hyped. Over excited,” Homich said. “Once the guys settled down, we were okay. We tell our guys all the time that the only person that can get in our way is ourselves.”

Amsterdam went 6-2 last season but a one-point overtime loss to La Salle proved costly, and the Rams were denied a playoff spot on a tie-breaker.

“We know what we want to do. We want to win the Section II championship,” Vellon said. “Beating a double A team on the road is a huge win for our confidence going into next week [home against Queensbury].”

Sanchez ran 18 times for 96 yards and was 9-for-14 passing for 87 yards, with Edge snaring four passes for 54 of those yards. Sanchez kept Schenectady’s scoring drive alive on a fourth-and-two from the Rams 17 when he fumbled a snap, scooped the ball up, and ran 12 yards up the middle.

“Nick is such a tough guy. His heart beats 100 miles per hour,” DePoalo said.

DePoalo can see better days ahead for his team that features numerous underclassmen.

“We want to win games,” he said. “As long as we stay together, good things will happen. We’ve got to learn each week.”

Amsterdam 0 8 8 16 — 32

Schenectady 0 6 0 0 — 6

S — Sanchez 1 run (pass failed)

A — Vellon 6 run (Vellon run)

A — Gonzalez 29 pass from Vellon (Thompson pass from Vellon)

A — Vellon 1 run (Gonzalez pass from Vellon)

A — Vellon 3 run (Merced pass from Vellon)

Categories: High School Football, High School Sports, Sports, Sports

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