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Shaker stays in Liberty Division mix

Bison hold on to share of first with overtime win

Shaker’s Kyle Bernard (30) breaks free for a big run during an Oct. 6 Liberty Division game at LaSalle.

Shaker’s Kyle Bernard (30) breaks free for a big run during an Oct. 6 Liberty Division game at LaSalle. Robert Goo

The Shaker football team is still in contention for the Liberty Division title thanks to a two-point conversion.

Quarterback Chris Landers leaped into the end zone to score the two winning points in the Blue Bison’s 50-49 overtime victory at LaSalle last Thursday that kept Shaker (3-1 division, 3-3 overall) tied with Columbia and Schenectady for the division lead.

“We knew we’d go for two,” said Shaker coach Greg Sheeler. “We didn’t want to get into a shootout with them.”

It was a little late for the Bison wanting to avoid a shootout with LaSalle (2-2, 3-3). The Cadets led 34-21 entering the fourth quarter before Shaker scored three consecutive touchdowns to take a 42-34 lead. LaSalle then scored a touchdown and a two-point conversion with 30 seconds left in regulation to tie the score.

After Shaker missed a field goal in the closing seconds, LaSalle got the ball to start overtime. Cadets quarterback Garrett Delorey tossed a 21-yard touchdown pass to Alex Daversa-Russo on LaSalle’s second play from scrimmage, and Mitch Connolly added the extra point to give the home team a 49-42 lead.

Shaker turned to its ground game on its overtime possession. The Blue Bison ran the ball three times, with Kyle Bernard capping the series with a 10-yard touchdown scamper. Landers then launched himself over the offensive line to score the winning conversion.

Bernard and Landers teamed up with Ryan Griffin to lead a Shaker stampede through LaSalle’s defense. Bernard rushed for 187 yards and a touchdown, Griffin gained 128 yards and scored twice, and Landers added 102 yards on the ground and a touchdown. Landers also completed six of his 11 passes for 82 yards and three touchdowns.

“I think our offensive line played very well, and our backs did a great job of finding the holes,” said Sheeler. “And Chris Landers played his best game of the year.”

The Blue Bison still need a victory over Niskayuna Friday to have a shot at earning the Liberty Division title and a No. 1 seed for the Section II Class AA playoffs. Schenectady faces off with LaSalle, while Columbia plays last-place Colonie (0-4, 0-6).

“We’re not looking at anything other than Niskayuna,” said Sheeler. “We can control only what we can control.”

Like LaSalle, Niskayuna (1-3, 2-4) has an explosive offense that Shaker must contain.

“We just have to play good fundamental football and make sure we tackle in the open field,” said Sheeler.

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