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Football: Defense helps Shaker win first Sectional title

Blue Bison shut out Shen to claim Class AA crown

Shaker’s Ryan Griffin tries to get through a pair of Shenendehowa defenders during last Friday’s Section II Class AA championship game in Clifton Park. Griffin rushed for 122 yards and a touchdown to lead the Blue Bison to a 14-0 win.

Shaker’s Ryan Griffin tries to get through a pair of Shenendehowa defenders during last Friday’s Section II Class AA championship game in Clifton Park. Griffin rushed for 122 yards and a touchdown to lead the Blue Bison to a 14-0 win. Robert Goo

— "Mistakes," said Clawson. "I'm not going to point a finger at any one person because we win as a team and we lose as a team. We just didn't play well offensively tonight."

"We were very aggressive tonight," said Sheeler.

Shaker's ground game clicked in the second half. Long runs by Kenny Jackson and Ryan Griffin helped the Blue Bison get inside Shen's 20-yard line in the third quarter. However, the drive stalled when Corey Acker intercepted a tipped pass in the end zone.

The Plainsmen mounted their own drive following the turnover, but the Blue Bison defense held firm at their own 30-yard line and forced Shen to turn the ball back to them on downs with 10:18 left in the fourth quarter.

Shaker turned to Griffin on the next series, and the senior tailback delivered the title-clinching play. On second down from Shen's 44-yard line, Griffin broke to his left, got past a fallen defender and raced into the end zone to put the Blue Bison ahead 14-0.

"I saw the hole open up, and I just took off," said Griffin, who finished with 122 rushing yards.

"He's the heart and soul of our team," said Sheeler. "He'll probably tell you that he couldn't do it without the offensive line blocking for him, but he makes things happen."

Shen still had time for a comeback, but the Plainsmen's hopes were dashed when they lost a fumble to Shaker at their own 37-yard line with less than six minutes left. Shaker ran nearly four minutes off the clock before turning the ball back to Shen on a fumble.

"It just put pride in my heart watching them," said Griffin. "I didn't play defense tonight, but they stepped up and executed well all game."

The win propels Shaker into the Class AA state semifinals two weeks from now in Kingston against the winner of a regional between the Section I and Section IX champions.

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