Patriots start fast, roll into playoffs, 49-20 (photo gallery)
NISKAYUNA Schenectady grabbed a playoff spot and the No. 3 seed Friday night, and also earned bragging rights around the upper Union Street neighborhood for another 12 months.
The Patriots, 3-2 in the Liberty Division and 5-2 overall, scored 28 points in the opening quarter and rolled to a 49-20 victory at Niskayuna, getting big contributions from a number of players.
Junior running back Hassan Rainey did much of the damage for Schenectady, picking up 142 yards on nine carries in the first half alone. While the victory put the Patriots in the playoffs, beating Niskayuna was just as important for Rainey.
“I know a few of them, and all year, we do a lot of trash talking at Union Pizza and McDonald’s,” said Rainey, who finished the game with 159 yards in 13 carries and three touchdowns. “We’re friends, and it is becoming a real rivalry. I was a little surprised we did so well early because they’re a good team. But this really feels great.”
Rainey is just one of a handful of talented weapons senior quarterback Kwame Jarvis has at his disposal, and he used all of them Friday night. Junior running back Felix Rodriguez picked up 42 yards on two running plays to open the game, and then Jarvis lofted a 20-yard touchdown to senior wide receiver Trent Wheeler to give Schenectady a 7-0 lead with less than a minute off the clock.
The Patriots went 53 yards in six plays to score again on their next possession. During the drive, Jarvis passed to Rodriguez for a 17-yard pickup and Alex Phann for an 11-yard gain on third down before Rainey broke free from 18 yards out for a touchdown.
On their third possession, Rainey’s 36-yard run set up Rodriguez’s one-yard touchdown, and with 4:04 left in the first quarter, Schenectady was up, 21-0.
Niskayuna, behind sophomore quarterback Aidan O’Brien, went 65 yards in eight plays and got on the scoreboard when O’Brien bowled over from one yard out. Schenectady, however, set up by Wheeler’s 62-yard return of the ensuing kickoff, scored on the final play of the first period as Rodriguez ran over from 10 yards out, extending Schenectady’s lead to 28-6.
“We came out ready to play, we were focused, and we got off to a good start,” said Schenectady coach Jim Kramer. “I’m very happy with the way we played. A lot of people contributed.”
Like Rainey, Kramer said that beating Niskayuna is a bit special for his club.
“Anytime you play a neighboring school, it’s big, so this is a real nice rivalry,” he said. “It’s only a mile between high schools, and they’re a very good team. We played really well, but it was a tough fight.”
O’Brien, who ran for 122 yards in 18 carries in the first two periods, sparked a 14-play, 83-yard drive following Schenectady’s touchdown to pull the Silver Warriors within 16, 28-12.
His 12-yard touchdown run came with :44 on the clock, but instead of Niskayuna taking some momentum into the locker room at halftime, Schenectady went 61 yards in three plays for another score in just 23 seconds. Jarvis hit Wheeler for an eight-yard gain, found Rodriguez for a 24-yard pickup and then handed off to Rainey who broke free up the middle for a 29-yard touchdown, increasing the Patriots’ lead at the half to 35-12.
Wheeler’s interception on Nisk-ayuna’s first possession of the third period set up another score, this time Jarvis getting the six points himself on a one-yard run that, following another successful extra point kick by Nakia Boozer, made it 42-12.
Schenectady added its final score on an 11-yard run by Rainey with 6:09 left in the third period, and Niskayuna, again with O’Brien leading the way, put together a 65-yard, 12-play drive to cap the scoring with 50 seconds left in the third period. The touchdown came when O’Brien broke free on a fourth and four situation for an 11-yard touchdown.
The Patriots will play at No. 2 Class AA seed CBA next Friday night. The Brothers closed out their regular season with a 14-0 loss to Shenendehowa.
“We’re looking forward to that, and I want to thank all the coaches for working us so hard and getting us in great condition,” said Rainey. “I hate it, but it pays off.”
Jarvis finished with eight completions in 10 attempts for 109 yards, and Rodriguez contributed 97 yards in 11 rushes. Niskayuna, which needed a victory to remain in playoff contention, fell to 1-4 in the division and 3-4 overall. O’Brien, despite losing 18 yards on two ground plays which began with fumbled snaps from shotgun formation, finished with 195 yards on 37 carries.
Schenectady 28 7 14 0 — 49
Niskayuna 6 6 8 0 — 20
S — Wheeler 20 pass from Jarvis (Boozer kick).
S — Rainey 18 run (Boozer kick).
S — Rodriguez 1 run (Boozer kick).
N — O’Brien 1 run (run failed).
S — Rodriguez 10 run (Boozer kick).
N — O’Brien 12 run (pass failed).
S — Rainey 29 run (Boozer kick).
S — Jarvis 1 run (Boozer kick).
S — Rainey 11 run (Boozer kick).
N — O’Brien 11 run (McKinney run).