Shenendehowa’s defense came to the rescue Friday night.
Bronson Greene ran for his second touchdown with 19 seconds left after Kevin Hulbert’s interception, and the Plainsmen survived a gallant upset bid by Christian Brothers Academy with a 20-14 Class AA Empire Division victory.
“That pick down there was huge,” Shenendehowa coach Brent Steuerwald said of Hulbert’s interception on Casey Crotty’s pass. “He gave up a big play earlier down the sideline, and he made up for it.”
CBA turned the ball over twice, with a fumble through the end zone costing the Brothers a second-quarter touchdown. The second miscue cost the Brothers the game, and left them winless against the Plainsmen in six straight meetings.
“We were not trying to hit a home run. We were trying for some yards, and the ball got a little high on him,” CBA coach Joe Burke said. “Casey is a great competitor, and he’ll be back. That’s part of life.”
CBA (2-2 division, 3-2 overall) tied the game at 14-14 on Trey Williams’ seven-yard touchdown run and Max Weaver’s extra point early in the fourth quarter before Shenendehowa (4-0, 5-0) answered late on Greene’s five-yard burst to the end zone.
Greene ran for 173 yards and his two touchdowns on 25 carries, and also batted down Crotty’s final heave near the Shenendehowa end zone as time expired.
“They had great momentum all week, and they turned out to be a great team,” Greene said of the Brothers, who had knocked off Saratoga Springs and Guilderland the previous two weeks. “They surprised us in the first half. In the second half, we had to make up for it.”
Hulbert made up for his missed coverage that allowed Weaver to haul in a 26-yard pass in the opening quarter with his game-changing interception. It came with CBA looking at a first-and-15 from its own 24, with 1:52 remaining.
“We were in red coverage, which means everyone deep,” said Hulbert, a senior defensive back. “They ran a double hitch. I slipped and my guy was actually open, and the ball flopped into my lap.
“I was thinking, ‘If I drop this, I’m quitting football.’ ”
“As soon as I saw that, my thought was we have to score in this drive,” Greene said.
Hulbert returned the ball four yards to the CBA 28, and Greene ran twice for four and 15 yards. After quarterback Teddy Van Galen ran for four yards and Greene was stopped for no gain, the senior back took a short pitch and went up the middle for his ninth touchdown of the season.
“We played very good defensive football. They’ve scored a lot of points against CBA over the last few years,” said Burke. “We gave them a short field on the last one, but to hold them to a couple of touchdowns is a credit to our team.”
Friday’s game was nothing like last year’s meeting, when Greene rambled for 312 yards and scored four times in a 34-0 win which represented the 300th in Steuerwald’s career.
CBA held a 7-6 halftime lead against the state’s No. 10-ranked team, but it could have been more had Carter Sherman not fumbled the ball away after a 35-yard run late in the second period.
“That game was exactly what it was expected to be. CBA is a very formidable team,” said Steuerwald. “At the half, we gave our boys a pretty good gut-check. We challenged them.”
Greene ran for a four-yard touchdown to finish off Shenendehowa’s opening drive of the third quarter, a 13-play, 65-yard sequence, and Van Galen hit Brandon Miller with a two-point conversion pass from a 14-7 advantage.
“That drive to start the second half was critical for us,” said Steuerwald. “We had to get something going.”
CBA tied the game when Williams ran for his fourth-quarter touchdown and Weaver delivered, capping a seven-play 52-yard march which included a 25-yard scamper by Sherman.
“I just told my guys we’re a very good football team. We did a great job going blow for blow with them,” Burke said. “We’ve got to keep our heads up, get off the mat and come in Monday ready to get back to work.”
Crotty scored on a one-yard run in the first quarter before Weaver’s extra point. The senior’s touchdown ended a 13-play, 69-yard drive that featured Weaver’s 26-yard reception which brought the ball to the Plainsmen 19. Shenendehowa went 50 yards on three plays to counter in the second frame, with Greene running for 21 before Tony Fusco’s 25-yard dash for a touchdown. Ras-I Grady blocked the extra-point try.
Shenendehowa 0 6 8 6 — 20
CBA 7 0 0 7 — 14
C — Crotty 1 run (Weaver kick).
S — Fusco 25 run (kick blocked).
S — Greene 4 run (Miller pass from Van Galen).
C — Williams 7 run (Weaver kick).
S — Greene 5 run (kick failed).