LATHAM The Shaker football team is going to its first Section II championship game, but not without a critical defensive stand.
The Blue Bison (9-0) held on for a 28-21 Class AA semifinal victory over Schenectady last Friday in Latham.
The key play came in the final minute of the fourth quarter. On a fourth-down play deep in Shaker territory, Schenectady quarterback Kwame Jarvis rolled out to his right and made a dive for the end zone. Four Blue Bison leaped in from the side and pushed Jarvis out of bounds just as it appeared the ball hit the pylon.
The referee ruled the ball did not cross the goal line and marked it at the 1-yard line. An official measurement then ruled Jarvis also failed to get the first down, which gave the ball to Shaker.
“That’s something we always preach to our guys – never give up on a play,” said Shaker coach Greg Sheeler. “He improvised, and our guys did a good job of getting over there to make the play.”
The defensive stand propelled the Blue Bison – the state’s No. 3-ranked Class AA team – into Friday’s scheduled championship game against Shenendehowa (8-1) in Clifton Park. The Plainsmen defeated Columbia 34-12 in last Friday’s other semifinal contest.
“It should be a very exciting atmosphere, and we’re looking forward to it,” said Sheeler.
Shaker jumped out to a 14-0 lead against Schenectady with its running game. Tailback Ryan Griffin scored on an 18-yard run, and tailback Kenny Jackson contributed a 27-yard touchdown scamper in the first quarter.
Schenectady (6-3) got back in the game with a pair of touchdowns in the second quarter. Felix Rodriguez scored on a 1-yard run early in the period to trim Shaker’s lead to 14-7. Blue Bison quarterback Chris Landers had a 3-yard touchdown run to bump Shaker’s advantage back to 14 points, but Jarvis threw a 6-yard scoring strike to Trent Wheeler before halftime to make it 21-14.