Amsterdam running back Mikey Gomez (3) breaks a tackle by Averill Park’s Cooper Willis (64) during Friday’s game at Averill Park High School. (Adam Shinder/Recorder staff)
By ADAM SHINDER
The Amsterdam Rugged Rams’ 20-15 loss Friday night against Averill Park will go down as both a great effort and a missed opportunity.
Unlike their effort in front of the Capital Region television audience two weeks prior against Queensbury, the Rams showed up Friday night in Averill Park ready to play in front of the cameras and were every bit as good as the Warriors for 48 minutes — except when the Rams were within 35 yards of the goal line.
Amsterdam had six offensive series, all of which saw them move the ball into Averill Park territory. But, of the 32 snaps the Rams got off on the Warriors’ side of the 50-yard line, only one of them produced a touchdown — the other score came on a 70-yard run by Deanthony Colon. On the night, the Rams turned the ball over on downs three times, all in Averill Park territory, and threw an interception deep in the Warriors’ defensive end late in the first half.
The loss doesn’t end the Rams’ playoff chances, by any means, but unless Amsterdam can pull off the upset Saturday against undefeated Burnt Hills, the team’s postseason fate will likely come down to a Week 8 road game against South Glens Falls.
Let’s take a look at how Friday night unfolded in the weekly Rugged Recap:
• We’ll start with a big positive, and that’s the play of quarterback Deanthony Colon. With Trey Holloway’s back problems knocking him out of the lineup, Colon stepped up to start and became Amsterdam’s fifth starting signal-caller in the last two seasons along with Holloway, Andrew Giaimo, Trey Ausfeld and Adel Rosario. Colon’s first exposure as a varsity quarterback came in the second half of the Rams’ Week 3 loss to Queensbury, which mostly consisted of him being driven backwards by the Spartans’ ferocious defense. Friday, he acquitted himself with a sensational dual-threat performance that saw him complete 12 of 17 passes for 140 yards and a touchdown while rushing for 146 yards and another touchdown on 16 carries.
There were struggles at points, to be sure — Amsterdam kept its offense at a very slow tempo and a bobbled shotgun snap helped derail the Rams’ final offensive drive — but Colon provided some sensational highlights under a lot of pressure from the Averill Park defense. No play exemplified that more than his second-quarter touchdown run when Colon was wrapped up behind the line by Warriors defensive tackle Gavin Ryan — who was a one-man wrecking crew against the rest of the Amsterdam running game — only to spin free, keep his balance, get to the sideline and turn on the jets to reach the end zone.
Colon made big plays in the running game all night, and after a 1-of-4 start through the air he completed 11 of his final 13 passes on the night, including a 13-yard touchdown pass to Louis Fedullo on a nice back shoulder fade route.
• Amsterdam’s only turnover of the night came under auspicious circumstances. The Rams had just gotten the ball back late in the first half following a sensational interception and return by Jake Greco, and on third down from the Averill Park 32-yard line, Colon went deep down the right sideline for Ryan Bradt. From my vantage point on the field, Bradt was wrestled to the ground by an Averill Park defender while the ball was in the air, allowing Austin Quell to intercept the pass. What seemed to be an obvious pass interference penalty wasn’t called, and instead of the Rams being on the doorstep to go up two touchdowns at the half, Averill Park kept it a 15-8 game. It was a huge swing, and the Rams never really got momentum back.
• Defensively, Amsterdam absorbed a lot from Averill Park’s triple option attack and largely kept the Warriors from gashing them for big plays in the running game, but the Rams struggled to get off the field on fourth down at a key time. Amsterdam had Averill Park in a fourth-and-3 on the Warriors’ first possession of the third quarter. The Warriors ran an option left and Amsterdam’s defense didn’t account for slotback James Finelli, who took the pitch from quarterback Nick Ferlito and raced 40 yards untouched to the end zone. Amsterdam also lost track of Finelli later in the quarter when he caught a bubble screen in the flat and wiggled loose for 26 yards on the Warriors’ only completed pass of the game to set up the go-ahead touchdown.
• Greco continued his trend of turning in at least one spectacular highlight per game with his first career interception late in the second quarter. On Averill Park’s only pass attempt of the first half, Greco perfectly shadowed his receiver, then jumped in front of the ball and contorted himself for the interception before returning it inside the Averill Park 40.
AREA NOTES: Canajoharie-Fort Plain just keeps rolling. C-FP forced six turnovers, including a fumble returned for a touchdown by Christian Herget, in a 32-0 win over Whitehall to improve to 5-0. Nick Kocjan threw two more touchdown passes for the Cougars, who visit Warrensburg in a critical Class D Division 2 game Saturday. … Broadalbin-Perth again held tough early against a top-notch opponent Friday against Schuylerville, but the Black Horses’ running game revved up as things wore on to pull away for a 49-10 win. After back-to-back games against two of the top five Class B teams in the state, the Patriots will hope to bounce back Friday at home against Hudson Falls. … Fonda-Fultonville’s second-half struggles continue, as the Braves were tied 13-13 at the half against Hoosick Falls, only to drop a 33-13 decision to the Panthers. Braves quarterback John Mancini threw an astonishing 42 passes in the contest, completing 18.