With 11 seconds left in the game, the Shenendehowa bench gave first-year head coach Brian Clawson his first bucket of Gatorade.
Clawson replaced the legendary Brent Steuerwald on the Plainsmen sidelines and saw his squad easily beat Albany, 58-6, in a Section II Class AA matchup at Bleecker Stadium Friday night.
On the other side, the struggling Falcons suffered their 38th straight loss.
It was a typical Shenendehowa squad — powerful on both sides of the ball.
Shenendehowa tailback Marcelino Christie had a field day, scoring two touchdowns and rushing for 168 yards on 12 carries. He put together all but 10 yards in the first half.
“I’m definitely proud of the guys. My linemen were up there blocking for me, my backs, my receivers. Everybody was on the same page. It started out kind of rough, but as we went on, we pulled through together and finished strong. I’m really proud of the guys,” said Christie.
The Plainsmen used the toe of Anthony Vilardi for a 22-yard field goal with 5:36 left in the first quarter.
After Albany went three and out, Shenendehowa saw Kyle Buss return a punt 29 yards to the Falcons’ 25. Three plays later, Christie reached the end zone from eight yards out and a 10-0 advantage in the first quarter.
Albany’s offense came alive on the ensuing series. Quarterback Justin Holmberg scampered 21 yards and he then connected with Dysheek Sanders for a 33-yard aerial and the Falcons were driving at the Shen 22. But a stubborn Shenendehowa defense stiffened, and stopped the Falcons.
The Plainsmen took over at their 25 and so did Christie. He gained 27 yards on one play and then raced down the sidelines for a 50-yard touchdown and a 17-0 lead. It was a quarter where Shenendehowa lit up the scoreboard for 28 points.
Corey Acker raced virtually untouched for a 23-yard touchdown run, quarterback Buss hit Acker alone in the end zone on a 29 scoring pass and Chris Miller recovered an Albany fumble and eventually Eric Hurd hauled in a 16-yard pass and Shenendehowa had a comfortable lead at halftime, 38-0.
It didn’t take long for Shenendehowa to light up the scoreboard again. With 11:03 left in the third quarter, Acker went 35 yards for a touchdown and a 42-0 margin.
Then the Plainsmen defense rose to the occasion when Anthony Lee picked off an Albany pass and two plays later, Colton Robtoy tallied from 13 yards away.
Jeremiah Smith shined on defense when he intercepted an Albany pass and Matthew Drum scored from one yard out and the Plainsmen led 58-0 entering the fourth quarter.
Christie was obviously happy with his performance and knows the road will be tougher.
“You got to be humble about it. You have to treat every touch like it’s your last. You’ve got to get the most out of every touch. You have to trust your blocker and you have to know everyone’s blocking assignments. It definitely plays a huge part in it,” he said.
Albany avoided the shutout with 2:43 remaining when Holmberg connected with Chris Wolcott for a seven-yard touchdown pass.
“I was very proud of the way the guys came out and played tonight. We came out and started a little bit slow. We had that first touchdown called back, so we made a couple of mistakes. I was proud of the way the guys hung together after that. The way they executed from there on out was very good,” said Clawson.
It was an exciting beginning for Clawson and the Plainsmen. Clawson said he’ll enjoy this victory, but prepare for Week 2 right away.
“We’re always looking to improve every facet of the game. If you look at the scoreboard, there’s not too much to improve on, but once we take a look at the film, which all of our coaching staff will start doing tonight, we’ll break it down over the weekend and watch it with our players on Monday morning. There’s always ways to improve. Defensively, I thought we played really, really well tonight and special teams played really, really well tonight. If we can correct a few mistakes offensively I think we’ll get better.”
Steuerwald, who spent 44 years on the Plainsmen sidelines, was on hand to encourage Clawson and hopefully see the first of many victories.
Clawson praised the work of his outstanding defense.
“I think overall they really pursued to the ball and tackled really well. They [Albany[ had an athletic quarterback. We swarmed to the ball well tonight. Chris Miller, our middle linebacker, and Lucas Buckley our inside linebacker did a
really good job. Our defensive ends played well, Eric Hurd and Eric Kromer containing the quarterback. We had to keep the quarterback between the tackles and I think they did a good job tonight.”
Shenendehowa 10 28 20 0 — 58
Albany 0 0 0 6 — 6
S — Vilardi, 22 field goal
S — Christie, 8 run (Vilardi kick)
S — Christie, 50 run (Vilardi kick)
S — Acker, 23 run (Vilardi kick)
S — Acker, 29 pass from Buss (Vilardi kick)
S — Hurd, 16 pass from Buss (Vilardi kick)
S — Robtoy, 13 run (kick failed)
S — Drum, 1 run (Vilardi kick)
A — Wolcott, 7 pass from Holmberg (run failed)