Alex Cooper / The Recorder Amsterdam’s Tyrone Watson (13) and Jesse Kellogg (70) knock the helmet off of Gloversville’s Anthony Ponticello during the game on Friday, October 07, at Lynch Literacy Academy.
By ADAM SHINDER
Football’s a game of three phases — offense, defense and special teams — and the Amsterdam Rugged Rams turned in moments of brilliance in all three Friday night to easily dispose of the Gloversville Huskies.
On offense, Dale Stanavich ran for 112 yards and a pair of touchdowns and Jaden Fallen contributed three touchdown runs. On defense, the Rams came up with three interceptions and forced two key turnovers on downs deep in their own territory. On special teams, Jesse Kellogg blocked a pair of punts in the first quarter to set up two early scores.
Mix that together in a blender and it comes out to a 34-14 win for the Rugged Rams on Senior Night at Lynch Literacy Academy — a victory that puts Amsterdam a win next week against Scotia-Glenville away from locking up the No. 2 seed in the Section II Class A Northwest Division and earning a first-round home playoff game.
“We stressed special teams all week. It’s a third of the game, we stressed it all week and we did well,” Amsterdam coach Doug Edick said. “That set the tone, and our defense stepped up in the first half and played great.”
Stanavich only carried the ball six times, missing a chunk of the second quarter after suffering a finger injury while making a tackle. Still, the senior tailback — who returned after halftime — broke loose for touchdown runs of 66 and 32 yards before resting for most of the third and fourth quarters with the game in hand.
“There’s a bigger picture,” Edick said of playing it safe with Stanavich. “We want to be able to move on, and he’s a heck of a player.”
Amsterdam (4-2, 2-1 Northwest) set the tone early with defense and special teams. Kellogg came free to block a pair of Brent Muhlberger punts in the first quarter, each of which set up the Rams at the Gloversville 15-yard line and were soon followed by short touchdown runs from Fallen.
“I’m smaller and a lot of people underestimate me, but I’m able to squeeze through those little gaps,” said Kellogg, who starts at offensive guard and defensive end. “I’ll do anything I can to help the team out there.”
The Amsterdam defense was buzzing throughout the game. Outside linebacker Tyrone Watson delivered a number of huge hits on blitzes, Kellogg was constantly in the backfield from his defensive end spot, defensive tackle Nathan Lucente made several key stops in the run game and when Gloversville did try to throw the ball, quarterback Anthony Ponticello was held to 1-of-5 for 7 yards with three interceptions.
Twice in the first half, the Rams let Gloversville — led by wildcat quarterback Trevor Mee, who ran for 90 yards on 18 carries — deep into its own territory, but held the Huskies out of the end zone. Most impressive was a goal-line stand from the Rams that saw them stop Gloversville three times from inside the 6-yard line, including an open-field tackle by Jarrett Nowak and Jake Smitka to bring down Ponticello on a fourth-down bootleg.
“Adel Rosario and Elijah Newborn put everybody in position on defense, and they’re a well-oiled machine with those two kids running it,” Edick said. “We had 11 kids going to the ball.”
Between the blocked punts and failure to capitalize on promising drives, Gloversville coach Jared Bongo lamented his team’s lack of execution in the first half.
“We blew our opportunities in the first half,” Bongo said. “We had it down in the red zone twice and came away with nothing. We had two blocked punts that put them in perfect position to get two scores. You take that away and it’s a (one-touchdown) game where we’re battling.”
Up 20-0 at halftime, Amsterdam put the game away with touchdown runs from Stanavich and Fallen in the third quarter. Good field position and strong performance from the offensive line made life easy for Adel Rosario in his first career start at quarterback. Rosario only completed two passes, but didn’t turn the ball over.
Edick credited the offensive line for making everyone’s job easier.
“The offense line came a long way,” Edick said. “Coach (Pat) Liverio and coach (Paul) Furman do a great job and worked their butt off. They did a real good job getting the offensive line together.”
Gloversville got a pair of consolation touchdowns against Amsterdam’s backups in the fourth quarter. Jared Malagisi broke loose for a 56-yard run and scored from a yard out on the next play, and the Huskies took advantage of a botched punt snap that led to Zack Alikhan recovering a fumble for a score.
Though the Rams were hoping for the shutout, they were content with a third straight win that has the team feeling good heading toward the postseason.
“It feels good to get three in a row,” Kellogg said. “Hopefully, we’ll beat Scotia, keep up the momentum going into the playoffs.”
Contact ADAM SHINDER at [email protected]