The luck of the schedule had Mechanicville running into Class C power Hoosick Falls in the season opener.
The physical and mental wounds from a 43-0 loss seem to have healed, as evidenced by Friday’s 25-13 North Division win over Corinth.
Not only did the Red Raiders lock up one of the North’s four playoff spots, but they also got a key piece of their offense back in senior Adam Erno.
Erno, who suffered a back injury early in the Hoosick Falls game, ran for a short touchdown and returned a kickoff for a touchdown that stopped the momentum Corinth had gained from a short TD run by quarterback Blake Basmajian that got the Tomahawks to within 18-13.
“It felt great to be back out there, but my legs were not used to it,” said Erno, referring to the tough running conditions on a rain-soaked field. “I hated being out. It was awful, especially against Tamarac. It went into overtime. I wanted to help out.”
“This was his first game back for us, offensively,” said Mechanicville coach Kevin Collins, whose team improved to 3-1 in league play, 4-1 overall, with its fourth straight win as it heads into its final division game against rival Stillwater. “He got hurt pretty bad early on a kickoff, and his back has not been the same. He really makes a difference out there.”
With the backfield of Erno and Adam Dunn reunited, the Red Raiders were able to move the ball consistently. It helped that Dunn broke off a 65-yard run on the Red Raiders’ first play from scrimmage, leading to a short touchdown run by quarterback Sal Cimino.
“That [first] play from scrimmage we had worked on all week,” Collins said. “We thought it might be open if they were playing that way defensively.”
“They were getting a lot of blocks on the edge,” said Dunn of the effort of his linemen, who helped him to a 100-yard game. “I was able to get outside and get past the first level and get a lot of yards out of it.”
“He’s huge for us, both receiving and running,” Collins said of Dunn. “We run the stretch play, and he finds the holes. If we put him out wide, he catches the ball.”
Corinth answered with an 11-play, 68-yard scoring drive that ended with a 13-yard TD pass from Basmajian to Zac Lucia.
Mechanicville went up, 12-7, on its next possession, Cimino finding Dunn on a 15-yard TD pass. Erno banged over from two yards out to put the hosts up, 18-7, but Corinth again matched the score.
Caleb Tucker’s 45-yard run set up a one-yard TD sneak by Blasmajian that got the Tomahawks to within five points, 18-13.
Erno quickly negated that score with an 86-yard kickoff return, which turned out to be the final points of the game.
“I saw the linemen take some kid out, and I went right up beside him,” said Erno. “That’s a big momentum swing.”
“We gave up the kickoff return, and that was a huge play for them,” said Corinth coach Jeff Higgins, whose 1-3, 2-3 Tomahawks wrap up division play at Hoosick Falls next Friday. “Even the opening play, that long run, you can’t give those up. They hit us hard with them. Other than that, the defense played well.
“They’re a well-coached team, and they made the plays when they had to.”
Both teams found the going tough in the second half, as the field softened and the defenses stiffened. The two touchdowns the Red Raiders were allowed marked the first time that happened since Week 1.
“This is what its supposed to be about, but on the muddy field it was a little slower that it should be,” said Dunn of the Mechanicville offense. “But it was tough. It was like swimming out there. It was a swamp.”
But not swampy enough to slow the pairing of Erno and Dunn.
“We felt comfortable putting him [Erno] back in there this week,” said Collins. ”This is what we were shooting for. “
Corinth 7 6 0 0 — 13
Mechanicville 12 13 0 0 — 25
M — Cimino 2 run (kick failed).
C — Lucia 13 pass from Basmajian (Jenkins kick).
M — Dunn 15 pass from Cimino (run failed).
M — Erno 2 run (run failed).
C — Basmajian 4 run (kick failed).
M — Erno 86 kickoff return (Kawola kick).