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Football: Shootout at the Colonie Corral

Defensive play turns the tide for Niskayuna

Colonie tailback Jason Gayle (40) tries to cut past a Niskayuna defender during last Friday’s game.

Colonie tailback Jason Gayle (40) tries to cut past a Niskayuna defender during last Friday’s game. Photo by Rob Jonas.

— In a game that featured 95 points and nearly 800 yards of total offense, it was a defensive play that determined the outcome of last Friday’s Niskayuna-Colonie football game.

Alex Helenek’s 40-yard interception return for a touchdown early in the fourth quarter helped Niskayuna pull away for a 56-39 victory over Colonie.

Up to that point, neither defense had anything to hang their hats on. But once Helenek stepped in front of Colonie quarterback Steve Wutzer’s pass and ran into the end zone, Niskayuna (1-2) grabbed a 49-31 lead and never looked back.

“That set the distance. That was huge,” said Niskayuna coach John Furey.

“They’re a good defen-sive team,” said Colonie coach Mike Ambrosio. “They stayed in it, and we made a couple of mistakes that they took advantage of.”

The offenses set the tone early in the first quarter. Wutzer completed an 87-yard touchdown pass to Elijah Crago on Colonie’s first play from scrimmage to give the home team a 7-0 lead, but Niskayuna running back Chris Henry responded with a 59-yard scoring run a short time later. Helenek added the extra point to tie the game at 7, and only three minutes had elapsed.

Both teams moved the ball at will throughout the remaining 21 minutes of the first half. Niskayuna took its first lead on Henry’s 15-yard touchdown run midway through the first quarter only to see Colonie regain the advantage on Jason Gayle’s 1-yard touchdown plunge and two-point conversion run. The lead changed hands twice in the second quarter before Henry capped Niskayuna’s final drive of the first half with a 2-yard touchdown run that put the Silver Warriors ahead 28-23.

Niskayuna lost Henry’s services early in the third quarter when he injured his right ankle on a short run. The senior tailback had rushed for 110 yards and three touchdowns up to that point.

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