SCHENECTADY Schenectady couldn’t have asked for a better start to Friday’s midseason Class AA Liberty Division matchup with Shaker.
Kwame Jarvis drove the Patriots to a time-consuming touchdown drive on their first possession, and then needed one play to make it 14-0 after Shaker mishandled the ensuing kickoff.
But what first looked like a track meet turned into a battle in the trenches, Shaker’s defense stiffening long enough for Kenny Jackson to score the winning touchdown with 2:17 left in the game as the Blue Bison escaped with a 21-14 win that kept their unbeaten record intact after four games.
Schenectady fumbled the ball away at the end of a 23-yard pass on its first play after Jackson’s TD, only to get another chance when Tyler DePasquale fell on a Ryan Griffin fumble at the Schenectady 43 on the next play.
Jarvis hit three straight passes to move the ball to the Shaker 22, but the Patriots saw their final chance go by when a fourth-down pass from the 25 was deflected and intercepted in the closing seconds.
That was the fifth and final time the Pats stalled inside the Shaker 30.
“We laid it on the line, and gave it every single ounce of energy we had,” said Schenectady coach Jim Kramer, whose team fell to 1-2 in the division and
2-2 overall. “We had some situations where we could have capitalized, and we didn’t. But I can’t take away from our effort.”
Jarvis had barely gotten to the sideline when he hustled back onto the field for a final chance at a tie or win.
“I thought we were out of it, then we got another chance,” said Jarvis, who completed 17 of 33 passes for 195 yards and two touchdowns. “I wasn’t worried about the time [left]. We play fast and up-tempo. We run up quickly to the line of scrimmage. I tell the receivers to hustle back because maybe we can catch the defense not set.”
“We had new life,” Kramer said. “We drove it down there, then stalled a little bit. We’re going to be aggressive in what we do and play for the win. Tonight, it didn’t happen for us.”
Shaker quarterback Chris Landers, who threw three interceptions, was never so happy to take a knee and run out the clock.
“I was messing up. I told the offensive line that all we needed was one last drive,” said Landers, who scored on a one-yard run, and threw a TD pass to Griffin on the last play of the third quarter to make it a 14-14 game. “The offensive line did a great job, but the defense won the game for us tonight.
“They [Schenectady] came out flying around. That’s what we expected. Coach told us we had to dig in. This was our first dogfight, and he wanted to see how we responded.
“It was a great game. Kwame played great. I’m happy we got out with a win.”
Jarvis hit Felix Rodriguez on a 20-yard touchdown pass to cap a 13-yard, 80-yard opening drive that ate up half of the first quarter.
Trent Wheeler was first to a free ball when Shaker mishandled the kickoff, and Jarvis wasted no time, hitting Jeremy Kent in the end zone for a two-touchdown lead.
“I was excited, but I knew they weren’t going to just lay down. They’re a great team,” said Jarvis. “When we got up, I was confident, but I was a little guarded. I knew what they could do.”
Both teams had scored over 30 points in each of their first three games, but Shaker was finished giving up touchdowns.
“Our coaches did an outstanding job of making adjustments,” said Shaker head coach Greg Sheeler, whose team hosts fellow unbeaten Shenendehowa next. “We were a little bit tentative at the start. We hadn’t been in that spot all year, but the kids responded.”
“We started off hot. Then we had some series where we stalled out a little bit in some situations,” said Kramer, who didn’t fault his team’s effort. “These are kids, and they work hard every day. That’s all I can ask of them, to work hard and compete, and that’s what they did tonight against a very good team.”
Shaker 7 0 7 7 — 21
Schenectady 14 0 0 0 — 14
Sch — Rodriguez 20 pass from Jarvis (Boozer kick).
Sch — Kent 13 pass from Jarvis (Boozer kick).
Sha — Landers 1 run (Griffin kick).
Sha — Griffin 7 pass from Landers (Griffin kick).
Sha — Jackson 3 run (Griffin kick)