SCHENECTADY – Amsterdam and Schenectady were in a pretty good fight for two quarters Friday night in the non-ranking season opener football game for both teams, each reaching the end zone once.
Amsterdam virtually owned the next two quarters, which included touchdowns on three straight possessions, to prevail 32-6 in a matchup between old Big 10 rivals looking to move further than they did a season ago.
“We were bummed out by the way we played in the first half,” Amsterdam coach John Homich said after the away win at Larry Mulvaney Field. “The second half was more like we had written it.”
That script saw the Rugged Rams score often, and with competition on the line, they did just that behind the exploits of many led by quarterback Jhai Vellon.
Vellon passed Louis Gonzalez to start the second half scoring and then rushed for a pair of touchdowns, the senior’s second and third of the game, to help his team pull away.
Vellon also ran for a double in the first half and passed for three of them in the second half.
“Do me,” Vellon said when asked about his performance in the second half. “I do what I do best. Do plays.”
Schenectady made most of their big plays in the first half, including two defensive steals and Nik Sanchez’s 1-yard quarterback into the end zone.
“I’m happy with a lot of the things we did,” said Schenectady coach Carm DePoalo, whose team is looking to bounce back after a three-win season in 2021. “We forced a couple of turnovers. We moved people with our line. They were physicists and we were physicists. Some youthful mistakes hurt us, but it was a great lesson against a great team”.
Amsterdam looked very good at times in that great second half.
“Jo’el [Baker] he was saying we needed to step up,” Vellon said of his senior teammate. “We went out and took it to him. Our energy recovered.”
Vellon ran 24 yards to help set up his 29-yard touchdown pass to Gonzalez on a fourth-and-15 play, and Vellon followed with a 2-point pass to Ceasar Thompson to start the Rams’ second half.
Vellon went up a yard for the Rams’ next touchdown early in the fourth quarter after he broke up runs of 23, 11 and 18 yards late in the third.
“The Vellon kid is very good,” DePoalo said of the 2021 Section II Class A Offensive Player of the Year. “The kid is a superstar. He is an aggressive player and a smart player.”
Vellon produced his third TD on a 3-yard run in the fourth quarter.
“He is our main leader. He said, ‘Let me take over,’ and that’s what he did,” Homich said of Vellon, who rushed 10 times for 110 yards and completed 5 of 8 passes for 75 yards with his touchdown and an interception. “In great moments, the greats step forward.”
Schenectady’s great offensive line and young group of running backs stepped in in the first half as the Patriots put together three long, time-consuming drives that ended, in order, on downs, on Sanchez’s one-yard touchdown run (his two-point conversion pass failed) and when time expired.
“In the first half, they had the ball a lot and they were running down the middle towards us,” Vellon said. “We clean it up.”
Amsterdam got a 6-yard touchdown run from Vellon in the second quarter to answer Sanchez’s touchdown, and the Rams quarterback followed with a two-point run to put his team up 8-6.
Amsterdam also turned the ball over twice in the first half when Jakeim Edge intercepted a pass and Syron Canteen recovered a fumble.
“We were exaggerated. Too excited,” Homich said. “Once the guys calmed down, we were fine. We tell our guys all the time that the only person who can stand in our way is ourselves.”
Amsterdam went 6-2 last season, but a one-point overtime loss to La Salle proved costly, and the Rams were denied a playoff spot in a tiebreaker.
“We know what we want to do. We want to win the Section II championship,” Vellon said. “Beating a double-A team on the road is a huge win for our confidence going into next week. [home against Queensbury].”
Sánchez rushed 18 times for 96 yards and completed 9 of 14 passes for 87 yards, with Edge catching four passes for 54 of those yards. Sanchez kept Schenectady’s scoring drive alive on a quarter-and-two from the Rams 17-yard line when he fumbled, picked up the ball and ran 12 yards down the middle.
“Nick is a very tough guy. His heart beats 100 miles per hour,” DePoalo said.
DePoalo can see better days ahead for his team that features numerous freshmen.
“We want to win games,” he said. “As long as we stay together, good things will happen. We have to learn every week.”
Amsterdam 0 8 8 16 — 32
Schenectady 0 6 0 0 — 6
S — Sánchez 1 run (pass failed)
A — Carrera Vellon 6 (Carrera Vellon)
A — Gonzalez 29 de Vellón pass (Thompson de Vellón pass)
A — Vellón 1 run (González de Vellón pass)
A – Carrera Vellon 3 (Merced Pass from Vellon)
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Categories: High School Sports, Sports, Sports