CLIFTON PARK, N.Y. – The Shenendehowa football team didn’t want to spoil homecoming for the 5,100 fans in attendance Friday night at Brent T. Steuerwald Stadium and they weren’t going to let Christian Brothers Academy stand in their way.
An imperfect first half led to a defensive masterpiece that included a pair of interceptions returned for touchdowns for the Plainsmen on their way to a 41-21 Class AA victory.
“I think penalties were hurting us and we were putting ourselves offensively in long down and distance situations,” Shenendehowa senior running back Billy Beach said. “Defensively I think we played well the whole game, but in the second half I think our two platoon system, we were fresh and we ready to keep going.”
Beach finished with a pair of touchdowns and 118 yards in the win as Shenendehowa turned a precarious 14-7 halftime lead into the doubled-up, double-digit win.
Beach scored on the Plainsmen’s opening drive, a nine-yard run and Shenendehowa appeared ready to turn it into a rout when Duncan Hill picked off CBA quarterback Fred Smith’s pass and returned it 32-yards for a score less than a minute later.
The Brothers cut the lead in half, opening up the second quarter with an 80-yard eight-play drive capped by Smith’s TD pass to Dylan Jones.
Shenendehowa was unable to complete a late 84-yard drive, plagued by two late penalties, a dropped pass in the corner of the end zone and a CBA interception with 15 seconds left in the half.
With the ball back to open the second half the Plainsmen went to its hurry-up running offensive scheme, opened with Beach tearing through an open left side of the line and race 60-yards for a touchdown.
“We got a great push, we had that a little bit in the first half, second half we were moving them back, we established the line of scrimmage and there was a cut back lane there and I just kind of took it,” Beach said.
Just like the Shenendehowa staff had drawn it up.
“Since they were blitzing us so much we tried to make things simple, so we went back to what we did best and that's run 'Tiger' and the adjustment work,” Shenendehowa Coach Brian Clawson said. “The first play of the second half, two weeks in a row, you give it to Billy (Beach) and he scores a touchdown. That was a huge turning point in the game coming out of the half.”
Then again, as if on cue, Dyvante Terrlonge came up with the Plainsmen’s second CBA interception and returned it 20-yards for another score and a 28-6 lead.
One costly penalty, a hold on another Beach 36-yard touchdown run negated the score and the Plainsmen were forced to punt, but the ball was not in the Brother’s hands for long as this time it was Brandon Fahr coming up with an interception and raced back through an open field for a 35-yard touchdown and put the contest away, 34-7.
“Takeaways are the name of the game and I've watched football for a long time and I've never seen a game where there has been three Pick-6s in one game,” Clawson said. “Defensively to be able to do that in a really important football game is huge for our team, it's uplifting for the whole team.”
Shenendehowa’s Trevon Joyner kept the Plainsmen student section entertained, busting out a 49-yard touchdown for the 41-7 lead late in the third quarter.
CBA never gave up, opening up the fourth with a 40-yard touchdown run by Dylan Jones and the Brother’s defense coming up with its own turnover against the Shen second stringers at midfield.
CBA executed a nine-play 50-yard scoring drive with Jameer Austin busting in from three-yards out to cut the lead, 41-21.
“The goal there is to leave some hope,” CBA Coach Joe Burke said. “My coaches looked at me funny when I said onside kick, but we still have time on the clock and we're only down 20` points and we're going to give it a shot. The kids to know that we're going to keep playing right till the end.
“We had a great effort in most of the first half, we gave them a couple quick ones, halftime was a little too long and we came right back out and we gave them a couple quick ones right back.”
Shenendehowa will travel to Class A opponent Averill Park Friday, Oct. 18 while CBA faces another must-win contest on the road at Class AA leader Shaker. The Plainsmen will take on rival Saratoga Springs, Oct. 25 to close out the regular season.