Shaker shocks Schenectady

The Shaker football team wasn't going to the Section II, Class AA playoffs, so it decided to make a statement against a team that was going to Sectionals as a No. 1 seed.

Quarterback Mark Ambrosio passed for 139 yards and rushed for 58 yards including the clinching touchdown to lead the Blue Bison past previously-undefeated Schenectady 17-7 in last Friday's Liberty Division game.

The kids worked hard they worked hard all week," said Shaker coach Dennis Bender. "They had something to prove to themselves, to the school and to everybody."

Shaker's defense " a unit that had been prone to giving up big plays in previous weeks " prevented Schenectady (4-1 division, 6-1 overall) from gaining any momentum. Though the Blue Bison (2-3, 2-5) gave up 109 rushing yards to Schenectady tailback Mark Thompson, they limited him to an average of five yards per carry. And they never let quarterback Nick Ottati get into a rhythm, as Ottati completed only five of his 19 passes for 92 yards.

"I had to challenge the kids," said Bender. "I said that if we stopped Thompson and stopped the run, they'd have to go up top (with passes). So, they did a great job of stopping the run."

Neither team got into the end zone in the first half. The only scoring came courtesy of a Luke Walsh 22-yard field goal in the first quarter that put Shaker ahead 3-0.

It took a fumbled punt return to set up the game's first touchdown. Eric Sicko's punt bounced off the arms of a Schenectady player, and the Blue Bison recovered the ball deep in Patriots' territory. A short time later, tailback Jeremy Pryor scored on an 11-yard run, and Walsh added the extra point to give Shaker a 10-0 lead.

"I almost went for it on fourth down (before punting the ball), but I said that our defense was playing well," said Bender. "I wanted to pin them deep, and we wound up with the ball."

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