Rams give home crowd a big show

Tuesday, October 25, 2016 - Updated: 7:11 AM

Alex Cooper / Recorder Staff A group of Amsterdam defenders tackle Lansingburgh's Mike Zanda (3) during the Section II Class A first-round playoff game on Friday, October 21, at Lynch Literacy Academy.


The Amsterdam Rugged Rams knew that, except for extraordinary circumstances, Friday night's Section II Class A quarterfinal game against was going to be their last performance of the season at Lynch Literacy Academy.

They certainly gave their hometown fans a performance to remember.

The Rams dominated every aspect of Friday's game against Lansingburgh, riding an epic performance from senior Dale Stanavich in a 49-20 win that was over by halftime and a laugher by the middle of the third quarter. Amsterdam outgained Lansingburgh 555-178 and averaged more than 10 yards per play on offense in the team's best all-around performance of the season.

It sets up a semifinal matchup Friday night at Averill Park, and we'll get to that in a bit, but for now, let's backtrack through the win over Lansingburgh with a playoff edition of the Rugged Recap:

* Any discussion of this game must start with Stanavich, who put up numbers like he was playing a video game with all the cheat codes enabled. Stanavich ran 11 times for 211 yards and four touchdowns -- an average of 19.2 yards per carry -- and caught four passes for 162 yards and a score. He also threw a touchdown pass, but that was wiped out by an ineligible man downfield penalty. Stanavich has now has 1,134 rushing yards this season, and has exceeded 100 yards on the ground in seven out of eight games. His acceleration when he hits the hole is a sight to behold, seen best Friday when he took a shotgun handoff from quarterback Adel Rosario off the left side, made one cut and zipped 72 yards for a touchdown early in the second quarter.

* Stanavich did make one mistake during the game, when he tried to scoop up a bouncing punt under pressure and muffed the ball. Lansingburgh recovered and turned it into the lone touchdown that the Amsterdam starting defense allowed. On Amsterdam's first offensive play following the touchdown, Amsterdam offensive coordinator Tim Holloway let Stanavich choose the playcall for a chance to make good. Stanavich opted for a misdirection screen pass that he broke for a 45-yard gain that set up his 10-yard touchdown run.

* Everything good the Rams did Friday night can be summed up in the final 90 seconds of the first half. With Amsterdam leading 28-6, Lansingburgh had a promising drive going, but Anthony Aponte made a leaping interception at the Rams' 13-yard line to get the ball back. Amsterdam followed by covering 87 yards in eight plays in just 73 seconds to score as the halftime buzzer sounded. Stanavich started the drive with a 37-yard run to get the ball to midfield. A 20-yard wide receiver screen to Jake Smitka got the ball inside the Lansingburgh 30, and the Rams seemed to have a touchdown on a Stanavich halfback pass, but it was called back for a penalty.

Eventually, the Rams were backed into a fourth-and-14 from the 32 with 10 seconds to go. Rosario found Stanavich on a pass down the seam for the first down, and Stanavich made his way to the sideline, getting out of bounds at the 1-yard line with one second to go, stopping the clock and allowing the Rams to go up 35-6 on Stanavich's 1-yard touchdown plunge on the last play of the half.

* Rosario had his best game since moving to quarterback, going 8-of-14 for 195 yards. He threw a 76-yard touchdown pass to Stanavich and ran for a score on a 1-yard sneak. He did throw an interception in the waning minutes when he threw into double coverage near the end zone and it was returned for a touchdown, but it was ultimately a harmless play from someone who has become much more comfortable now that he's got three full games at QB under his belt.

* It was the best night of the season for the Amsterdam offensive line, plowing the way for 360 rushing yards. The Rams did a lot of shuffling on the four outside spots on the line to keep players fresh -- using Matt Renwick, Jarrett Nowak and Orlondo Rodriguez at tackle and Giovanie Adorno, Jesse Kellogg and Anthony Barone-Lopez at guard -- with junior center Nico Orengo as the only constant. No matter the combination -- which also included tight end Elijah Newborn and the best blocking performance from Jaden Fallen at fullback -- the Rams plowed the road all night. Even when Stanavich left the game, A.J. Mercado ran for 81 yards and a touchdown on 12 carries and Fallen continued his strong inside running with 51 yards on eight carries.

* Another very strong game for the Amsterdam defense, which bottled up the entire Lansingburgh offense for most of the night -- though the Knights were hampered by an early injury to starting running back Angel Bermudez. Many of Lansingburgh's 128 rushing yards came on a couple of draw plays when facing long-yardage situations, and 34 of the Knights' 50 passing yards came on one touchdown pass in the fourth quarter. The defensive line got plenty of push and the inside linebacker duo of Newborn and Jio Orengo did most of the work cleaning up with tackles. Orengo also picked up an interception in the third quarter when he sat in a short zone and undercut an errant pass from John Vandenburgh.

* The unsung move of the year for the Rams has been plucking Misha Murdoch from the soccer team at midseason and turning him into the team's placekicker. Murdoch's gotten better and better in his five games handling kicking duties, and Friday he went 7-for-7 on extra points.

* Averill Park is up next, and this will be the Rams' stiffest test since their Week 3 loss to Queensbury. The Warriors run the triple option out of the flexbone formation, an offense that can be tricky to deal with if the defense doesn't maintain discipline in its assignments. Amsterdam did well against the option last year at Averill Park, but this is a better, more experienced Warriors team than the injury-riddled version the Rams saw in 2015.

Contact ADAM SHINDER at adam.shinder@recordernews.com