"That was outstanding. They got the momentum with the onside kick, and then all the sudden we're going the other way," said Ambrosio. "Things like that you can't expect, and you can't anticipate it. You just got to have the kids react to it when it happens."
The Garnet Raiders extended the lead to 31-14 in the third quarter when Tom Duff found Matt June down the middle for a 48-yard touchdown pass. The Blue Bison responded with a 13-play, 80-yard drive engineered by Gifford, who completed four of seven passes in the series. Ambrosio capped it with a four-yard touchdown run that made the score 31-21 with 8:34 left in the fourth quarter.
Colonie tried running the clock down on its next series, but it failed on a fourth-down conversion attempt, and Shaker took over at the Garnet Raiders' 44-yard line. Gifford drove the Blue Bison down the field again and connected with his brother Mike on a 16-yard touchdown pass. Luke Walsh's extra point cut Colonie's lead to 31-28 with 4:36 left.
"It's one of the best games that I think we've been associated with. I'm proud of our guys, especially (dealing with) the adversity. We came back made some great adjustments and came up about a minute short," said Shaker coach Dennis Bender.
The Garnet Raiders made certain the Blue Bison didn't get the ball back. They got enough first downs on their final series to force Shaker to use up its timeouts, and the clock ran out before Colonie had to go for a fourth-down conversion.
"A minute too short, and that's what it comes down to," Bender said.
Colonie scored on its first possession behind the running of workhorse back Joe Poleto. Poleto carried the ball seven times in a 10-play drive that covered 93 yards and capped it with a 10-yard touchdown run that put his team up 6-0.