There was a wild celebration on Shaker’s side of the football field and slumped shoulder pads on the other after a Section II Class AA semifinal game ended on a controversial call Friday night.
Ryan Griffin ran for his second touchdown to break a third-quarter tie, and Shaker denied Schenectady comebacks bid three times afterward in a 28-21 victory that sent to Blue Bison to their first Super Bowl.
“I have to be honest. I could not be more excited,” said Shaker senior lineman Schuyler Huntington. “First Super Bowl. It’s crazy.”
The ending was certainly that in the first playoff meeting between the two programs.
Schenectady quarterback Kwame Jarvis dove for the right corner of the end zone and was denied a touchdown with 21.9 seconds left on a fourth-and-four play. As a swarm of Shaker defenders closed in, the senior made contact with the pylon on a stretch of the ball.
“He was in the air and hit the pylon,” Schenectady coach Jim Kramer was heard saying to the officiating crew.
Television replays appeared to confirm Kramer’s assessment of the play. The ball was placed about eight inches away from the goal line after Jarvis attempt, though, an apparent determination by game officials of where the ball was when his knee hit. Schenectady could have gained a first down at the one-inch line.
“I can’t say it enough. I’ve got great kids and great coaches, and this is not the way to end it,” said Kramer, after the Patriots’ four-game win streal was snapped. “No disrespect to Shaker. They have a great football team.”
Shaker (Liberty Division No. 1 seed, 9-0) built leads of 14-0 and 21-7 before Schenectady (Liberty No. 3, 6-3) tied the game up on a six-yard touchdown pass from Jarvis to Trent Wheeler in the second quarter and a 25-yard Jarvis-to-Felix Rodriguez connection in the third frame.
Griffin delivered his second touchdown soon after on a one-yard burst, and Schenectady’s final drives ended on a fourth-down incomplete pass, a punt and the play near the goal line.
“I didn’t see much. I saw our guys fly to the ball and Jarvis dive for the end zone,” said Shaker coach Greg Sheeler. “I’m happy with the call.”
Schenectady took over with 4:34 left at its own 14, and reached the Shaker four in 15 plays before Jarvis rolled out and headed to the corner. The drive included a 15 yard reception by Rodriguez on a third-and-11 that pushed the ball to the Pats’ 28, and a 10-yard, third-and-two scamper by Jarvis that landed the ball just outside of the Shaker 10.
“For our guys to battle for four quarters and have a goal line stand at the end like that, I’m very proud,” said Sheeler.
Jarvis threw incomplete on first down, Hassan Rainey ran for two yards, and Jarvis ran for four to set up the last play in a Schenectady season that was full dramatic moments. Just last week, the Pats rallied from a two-touchdown deficit to edge Christian Brothers Academy, 28-27, for the school’s first postseason win since 2009.
“It was a great football game between two great teams,” said Kramer. “I get ticked off when it gets taken out of the kids’ hands.”
Huntington was among the group of Shaker defenders who converged on Jarvis.
“I saw him go outside. I knew it was coming,” he said. “It was close, and we got him.”
“We called for a pass play,” said Kramer. “He scrambled and made a great play on his own.”
Shaker will look for its second win over Shenendehowa (Empire No. 1, 8-1) this fall when the teams meet in Friday’s 7 p.m. Super Bowl at Steuerwald Stadium. Griffin helped the Blue Bison get there with 110 rushing yards on 19 carries, including a 17-yard scoring run in the first quarter for the state’s No. 3-ranked team.
Shaker’s Kenny Jackson ran for 96 yards on 13 carries, including a 27-yard dash to the end zone on the Blue Bison’s second series. Rodriguez scored on a one-yard dive in the second quarter, and Shaker regained its two-touchdown cushion on a four-yard run by quarterback Chris Landers later in the quarter.
Landers hit Mike Lewis with a 25-yard pass, Jackson ran for 20 yards and Griffin broke off a 13-yarder during Shaker’s go-ahead, third-quarter drive that followed Rodriguez’ second TD.
Jarvis was 11-for-30 passing for 166 yards, with Wheeler making five grabs for 96 yards and Rodriguez making five catches for 63.
Wheeler hauled in a 47-yard bomb late in the second quarter to land the ball at the one, and Schenectady’s attempt to tie ended on an incomplete pass as time expired.
Rainey rushed for 126 yards on 19 carries. The junior had consecutive runs covering 24 and 17 yards just before Rodriguez 25-yard scoring reception, and had an 18-yard run during Schenectady’s last series.
Shaker rallied from a two-touchdown deficit to beat Schenectady, 21-14, in Week 4. Shaker has beaten every team it had faced except Schenectady by at least two touchdowns.
Schenectady 0 14 7 0 — 21
Shaker 14 7 7 0 — 28
Shak — Griffin 17 run (Griffin kick).
Shak — Jackson 27 run (Griffin kick).
Sch — Rodriguez 1 run (Boozer kick).
Shak — Landers 4 run (Griffin kick).
Sch — Wheeler 6 pass from Jarvis (Boozer kick).
Sch — Rodriguez 25 pass from Jarvis (Boozer kick).
Shak — Griffin 1 run (Griggin kick).