Clifton Park

Shenendehowa adds on, beats Niskayuna — School football

Shenendehowa’s Luke McAuliffe hauls in a reception in front of Niskayuna’s Asa Crosdale on Saturday. PETER R. BARBER
Shenendehowa’s Luke McAuliffe hauls in a reception in front of Niskayuna’s Asa Crosdale on Saturday. PETER R. BARBER
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CLIFTON PARK — Shenendehowa and Niskayuna didn’t waste any time scoring when they put up back-to-back touchdowns before Saturday’s non-classification football game was two minutes old.

The difference was Shenendehowa’s ability to add on afterward in a 28-12 victory over the 2022 Section 2 Class A champs at Steuerwald Stadium.

Cam Grasso took the opening kickoff 92 yards to the end zone to get Niskayuna on the board before the Plainsmen answered with four first-half TDs, including scoring runs of 59 and 53 yards by Ihsaan Alozie.

“We came out strong, other than the opening kickoff, running and passing,” Shenendehowa coach Brian Clawson said after his team’s season-starting win. “We scored 28 points and had an opportunity to score 31. And they were deep in their own territory for a lot of the half.”

Niskayuna roughed up non-league Class A opponent Auburn last week in its season debut 47-0. Niskayuna scored five first-quarter touchdowns in that win, but managed its only one from scrimmage Saturday when Grasso took an end-around handoff and threw a 7-yard scoring pass to Garrett Gilooley late in the third quarter to make it 28-12.

That fourth-down TD came on a short field after Shenendehowa failed to get a punt off.

“We’ve got to move the ball,” Niskayuna coach Brian Grastorf said. “We’ll get there. We’ve got to make some plays.”

Alozie made the first of several big Shenendehowa’s plays when the junior went up the middle and then worked his way to the right sideline as he found the end zone 1:21 into the contest. Shenendehowa quarterback Michael Whatley — who left the game in the second quarter with a shoulder injury — hit Luke McAuliffe in the back of the end zone with a 20-yard pass to complete the hosts’ next drive.

“They scored first, and that was big for them,” said Alozie. “Our leaders kept everyone in high spirits. They were reminding everyone that we’ve still got a whole game.”

In the second quarter Anthony Diaz scored on a 5-yard run out of a Wildcat formation, and Alozie added his 53-yard touchdown scamper soon after.

“They did their jobs,” Alozie said of Shenendehowa’s offensive line that has returning starters in Navy commit Matt Tomaszewski, Mike Barkevich and Billy Standaert. “They created some big holes.”

Shenendehowa had an opportunity for more in the opening half, yet lefty kicker Josh DuBray — who was 4 for 4 on PATs — missed a last-second 31-yard field goal try after backup quarterback Blake Mello hit McAuliffe with passes covering 27, 7 and 16 yards.

“He didn’t have a lot of snaps in the preseason,” Clawson said of Mello, who started at wide receiver. “It was a little deflating at first [when Whatley went out], but Blake went in and did an awesome job.”

Niskayuna saw its second half shutout against the 2021 and 2022 Section 2 Class AA runner-up Plainsmen as a positive. Joe Potfora helped keep the shutout in place with a late fumble recovery at the Shenendehowa 18. 

“We struggled in the first half,” said Grastorf. “We came out in the second half and were more physical. We challenged them. We’ve got to continue to play like that.”

Alozie ran six times for 125 yards — all in the first half — and Diaz ran 13 times for 75 yards. Whatley was 5-for-7 passing for 74 yards, and Mello was 4-for-7 for 53 yards. McAuliffe had six catched covering 115 of thos yards.

Niskayuna quarterback Ethan Gilson was 10 for 21 for 86 yards, while Isaiah Linyear managed 25 rushing yards on 12 attempts.

“We knew today would be tough,” Grastorf said. “What we’re taking away from it is how we continually fought and battled.”

Niskayuna saw its win streak against Section 2 teams halted at eight. That string included playoff wins over La Salle and Averill Park last season that propelled Niskayuna to its first area championship, and the Silver Warriors added a state regional title afterward.

Niskayuna 6 0 6 0 — 12

Shenendehowa 14 14 0 0 — 28

N — Grasso 92 kickoff return (run failed)

S — Alozie 59 run (DuBray kick)

S — McAuliffe 20 pass from Whatley (DuBray kick)

S — Diaz 5 run (DuBray kick)

S — Alozie 53 run (DuBray kick)

N — Gilooley 7 pass from Grasso (pass failed)

Categories: -Sports-, High School Sports, Sports, Your Niskayuna

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