John Danison didn’t have to search his memory, check the stat sheet or flip through any old scrapbooks. Clearly, he was never better than he was Friday night.
A senior quarterback, Danison completed seven of eight passes for 226 yards and five touchdowns, lifting host Stillwater to a 34-16 win over arch-rival Mechanicville in a Class C North Division game for the Indian Bowl.
“No, I’ve never had a game like this,” said Danison, who helped his team improve to 2-2 in the division and 2-4 overall. “This is something really special. My offensive line did a great job giving me time to throw, my receivers got open and I got the ball to them. It was an amazing night.”
Senior wide receiver Shawn McNeil was on the receiving end of three of Danison’s touchdown passes, while senior tailback Liam Kane and senior wide receiver Jake McCumber each had one. His only incompletion, “a miscommunication between me and my receiver,” according to Danison, came with just over six minutes left in the second quarter. Two plays later, however, a perfect strike to McCumber covered 67 yards for a score and a 15-3 Stillwater lead with 5:56 left in the first half.
“I don’t like to throw the ball, everybody knows that,” said Stillwater coach Vince Barber. “But Mechanicville is a good team, and I knew we had to do something different. We got good balance tonight, running and throwing the ball, and I have to pay my quarterback a real compliment. I challenged him earlier this year, and he really worked hard. He had a great game tonight.”
Other than its first-period safety when the Mechanicville snap from center sailed out of the end zone in punt formation, Stillwater didn’t score until its third possesion. Stillwater went 56 yards in five plays, with Danison finding McCumber for a 16-yard gain and then firing a perfect strike to Kane for a 41-yard touchdown with 9:46 left in the half, giving his club an 8-0 lead.
Mechanicville, sparked by a 33-yard run by quarterback Sal Cimino, got on the scoreboard when Caleb Foard connected on a 30-yard field goal, making the score 8-3. Three plays later, however, another perfectly thrown ball by Danison resulted in a 67-yard touchdown to McCumber, and on the ensuing series, Danison did a little defensive work, intercepting a Cimino pass to give his team the ball at the Mechanicville 48.
This time, the running of Kane and a 15-yard penalty on Mechanicville helped Stillwater get a second and goal at the two. While the next play was Danison’s shortest touchdown of the game, a two-yarder, it also came on a well-thrown ball, as he rolled to his right and lofted a long pass into the left corner of the end zone to McNeil. The score came with 1:02 left in the first half and gave Stillwater a 21-3 lead.
At that point, it started raining hard, and the downpour continued throughout the third period. When Mechanicville blocked a Stillwater punt early in the quarter, Cimino and Adam Dunn helped the Red Raiders to a first and goal at the three. However, the Warriors’ defense rose to the occasion and stopped the Raiders on fourth down. Three plays later, with the rain not yet letting up, Danison found McNeil for their 80-yard scoring hookup and a 27-3 lead with 4:14 left in the third quarter.
Mechanicville took the ensuing kickoff and went 68 yards in eight plays, Cimino’s four-yard touchdown run set up by his 34-yard pass to Dunn.
Stillwater put the game away by marching 75 yards in 11 plays, the only pass a 14-yard touchdown to McNeil for Stillwater’s final score of the game. The Raiders added the final score with 2:32 left in the game as Cimino found Noah Harpe for a 14-yard touchdown.
The loss dropped Mechanicville’s record to 3-2 in the division and 4-2 overall. The Red Raiders had won four consecutive games after opening the season with a 43-0 loss to Hoosick Falls.
Mechanicville 0 3 6 7 — 16
Stillwater 2 19 6 7 — 34
S - Safety, ball snapped over punter’s head out of end zone.
S - Kane, 41 pass from Danison (run failed).
M - Foard, 30 field goal.
S - McCumber, 67 pass from Danison (Gazzelli kick).
S - McNeil, 2 pass from Danison (kick failed).
S - McNeil, 80 pass from Danison (kick failed).
M - Cimino, 4 run (pass failed).
S - McNeil, 14 pass from Danison (Gazzelli kick).
M - Harpe, 14 pass from Cimino (Dinino kick).