The Colonie football team came dangerously close to losing to Schenectady.
Fortunately for the Garnet Raiders, they found their defense just in time to pull out a 34-27 victory over the Patriots in Friday’s Liberty Division game.
Schenectady (0-1 division, 1-1 overall) jumped out to a 27-12 halftime lead, but Colonie (2-0, 2-0) scored the last three touchdowns to avoid the upset.
The defense did a good job of shutting them down in the second half, said Colonie coach Mike Ambrosio. `We changed some match-ups, and that seemed to work.`
Joe Miskewicz put Colonie ahead early with a 21-yard touchdown run, but Schenectady’s aerial attack made that quickly disappear. Nick Ottati threw a 29-yard touchdown pass to Josh Mason and a 45-yard scoring strike to Marcus Brandon in the first quarter to give the Patriots a 13-6 lead.
`We were a little sluggish at the start of week two,` said Ambrosio. `They’re an athletic team, and they caught us by surprise.`
Colonie started the second quarter like it started the first quarter ` with a touchdown. This time, Tom Duff tossed a four-yard touchdown pass to Matt June to pull the Garnet Raiders within a point.
Ottati struck again by capping Schenectady’s ensuing drive with a one-yard touchdown run. He then connected with Brandon for a 13-yard touchdown pass to put the Patriots ahead by 15 points entering halftime.
Ishmal McCann started Colonie’s comeback with a one-yard touchdown run in the third quarter. June then caught a 56-yard scoring pass from Duff to pull the Garnet Raiders within a point heading into the fourth quarter.
Jim Kehrer capped Colonie’s rally with a 1-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter. Kehrer added a two-point conversion run to give the Garnet Raiders a seven-point cushion, which they maintained the rest of the way.
Duff completed nine passes for 193 yards, while Miskewicz and Joe Poleto combined to rush for 136 yards for Colonie, which plays LaSalle Friday night
`We need to put four quarters together, and we need to be consistent in all phases (against LaSalle),` said Ambrosio.
In other weekend football action, Shaker (1-1) bounced back from its opening week loss to Troy with a 24-7 Liberty Division victory at Columbia, while Saratoga throttled Christian Brothers Academy 47-7 in an Empire Division contest in Colonie.
Columbia (0-2) got on the scoreboard first with a 28-yard touchdown pass from Bobby Smith to Bobby Sarubbi, but Shaker’s defense shut the Blue Devils down the rest of the way to pick up its first win of the season.
`The (defensive) scheme was there (against Troy),` said Shaker coach Dennis Bender. `The biggest thing was personnel. We had a lot of guys playing both ways (offense and defense), and they ran out of gas. We had more fresh kids and more kids playing (against Columbia), and that helped us. The kids also stepped up.`
One player who stepped up for Shaker was Mark Ambrosio. The junior returned a second quarter punt 74 yards for the go-ahead touchdown, and he added a third quarter interception that set up the Blue Bison’s second touchdown ` a 23-yard scoring strike from Ryan Gifford to Eric Breton.
`Mark has always been a big-play guy at every level he’s played,` Bender said of Ambrosio, who is the son of Colonie’s head coach Mike Ambrosio. `He’s been the MVP at the freshman level, and he was the MVP at the junior varsity level.`
Gifford added a seven-yard touchdown run late in the third quarter to seal the win for Shaker, which hosts Niskayuna Friday.
At CBA, the Brothers’ defensive struggles continued against Saratoga. The Blue Streaks (1-1) rushed for 322 yards and five touchdowns, including three from Tony DeLoatch and two from Jimmy Minogue. DeLoatch also had an 80-yard kickoff return, and Minogue added a 94-yard touchdown pass to Ryan Quinn.
Andrew Vivian scored CBA’s lone touchdown on a one-yard run in the fourth quarter.
The Brothers (0-2) visit Albany Saturday at Bleecker Stadium.“