Amsterdam quarterback Deanthony Colon (18) looks for running room against Averill Park on Friday night. (Adam Shinder)
By ADAM SHINDER
AVERILL PARK — The Amsterdam Rugged Rams ran out of room. Then, they simply ran out of time.
Because of that, they’re running out of chances to ensure themselves of a spot in the Section II Class A football playoffs.
Amsterdam dominated time of possession and got into Averill Park territory on every single drive the team ran in Friday night’s contest, but the Rams only turned two of them into touchdowns before Averill Park took the lead on Carl Nitz’s 1-yard touchdown run to start the fourth quarter. The Rams followed with a 15-play drive taking up more than eight minutes of game clock, but with the ball at the Warriors’ 21-yard line, Amsterdam went backwards on three straight plays and ending up turning the ball over on downs. Averill Park ran out the clock, sending Amsterdam to a heartbreaking 20-15 loss.
“I thought our effort was there the whole game,” Amsterdam coach Doug Edick said. “A couple breaks didn’t go our way, and that’s football. They took advantage of the mistakes, and they’re a tough team.”
It’s the second straight year that Amsterdam (3-2, 3-2 Class A) came to Averill Park and were sent home with a disappointing defeat. The Rams lost to the Warriors (4-1, 3-1) on a last-minute touchdown in last year’s Section II Class A semifinals.
Friday night, the Rams went in without the services of Trey Holloway, whose recurring back issues made him unavailable. That provided the opportunity for senior Deanthony Colon to receive his first career start under center, and he responded by completing 12 of 17 passes for 140 yards and a touchdown while running for 146 yards and a touchdown on 16 carries.
However, the Rams turned the ball over on downs three times in Averill Park territory and had an interception deep in the Warriors’ defensive end late in the first half.
“They’ve got a good defense. They flew around and put some pressure on us,” Edick said. “We hurt them a little bit with our speed early, but we couldn’t get anything established, any rhythm. Deanthony did a great job, but being new it was a little out of sync at times and it showed. But, he played his heart out.”
“We base our defense, and I know it’s cliche, on trying to bend but don’t break,” Averill Park coach Zach Gobel said. “We want to make teams drive the ball 15 plays, and that’s what we did tonight. (Amsterdam) got a lot of offensive plays.”
Amsterdam led 15-8 at halftime, but Averill Park drove right down the field to start the second half and pulled within 15-14 when James Finelli broke a fourth-down run 40 yards for a touchdown. The extra point failed and Amsterdam still led, 15-14, but AP forced an Amsterdam turnover on downs and proceeded to head right back down the field, with a 26-yard pass from Nick Ferlito to Finelli eventually setting up Nitz’s 1-yard plunge for a 20-15 lead to start the fourth quarter.
Needing a touchdown to go in front, the Rams marched into Averill Park territory and had a first down at the 21-yard line after a defensive holding penalty converted a fourth down. But, a fumbled snap and two straight sacks drove Amsterdam into a fourth-and-31. Colon completed a pass to Jake Greco down the seam, but he was well short of the marker with 3:08 to play.
“Couple missed blocks here and there, missed snap, you’ve got to eliminate those mistakes. You’ve got to do that during practice,” Edick said.
Amsterdam had used all three of its timeouts while on offense in the second half, which allowed Averill Park to run out the clock without having to punt the ball back to the Rams.
“It came down to clock management,” Edick said.
Amsterdam opened the scoring in the first half on Colon’s 13-yard touchdown pass to Louis Fedullo early in the second quarter. A long kickoff return by Garrett Wagner set up AP with a short field that the Warriors turned into a Dom Law touchdown run to tie the game at 8-8. However, the Rams answered on their next offensive snap when Colon slipped a tackle from AP defensive lineman Gavin Ryan — who terrorized the Rams all night — and raced 70 yards for a touchdown and a 15-8 lead.
Amsterdam will have a long week to prepare for its next game, which will be a week from today on the road against undefeated defending sectional champion Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake.
“That’s our next opponent, but we’re gonna work on us on Monday to get better,” Edick said.