Albany times Union Story 9/18/2021

GUILDERLAND — The last time the Shenendehowa football team played at Guilderland, the Plainsmen had their season end with a bitter loss in the Class AA semifinals of the Fall II season this spring.

The bus ride home for Shen was almost certain to be more joyous on Friday night following its 23-9 victory over the Dutchmen.

The Shenendehowa defense hurried and harassed Guilderland quarterback Ty Santabarbara all game long, recording five sacks and forcing five turnovers with a defensive unit resembling a fierce wrecking crew.

“We don’t really like to carry over one season to the next in terms" of results, but you know, since it happened in the spring, I think it was fresh in everyone’s mind,” Shenendehowa coach Brian Clawson said. “The defense brought the juice tonight for four full quarters. We brought a lot of pressure, we pursued well to the football, we were pressuring the quarterback all night long. It wasn’t an individual effort; it was a team effort."

Shenendehowa (2-0, 1-0 Class AA) trailed 9-3 at halftime but took the lead for good on the first possession of the third quarter for Guilderland (1-1, 0-1) when senior linebacker Brandon Fahr stayed disciplined with Santabarbara rolling away from him and was in a perfect position to intercept a crossing pattern at the Dutchmen's 25-yard line and took the ball into the end zone to give the Plainsmen a 10-9 lead.

“He read the quarterback’s eyes, just like glue, hit him right in the hands, pick-six,” Clawson said. “It really gave us momentum that we carried through the second half.”

The play was one of four Plainsmen interceptions in the game.

“We had to leave it all on the field. I left it all on the field,” Fahr said. “I saw the crossing come behind me so I jumped the route. He threw it right to me to be completely honest, I just took it to the house. My coaches taught me really well, thank you to them.”

Leading 10-9 with an offense that had been bottled up throughout the game, Shen got the one big play it needed when Carter Cukerstein took a pitchout to the left side, picked up a big block from Chase Vincenzi and turned the corner for an electrifying 86-yard touchdown run with 2 minutes, 17 seconds left in the third quarter to extend Shen’s lead to 17-9.

“I got the ball and had some great blockers,” Cukerstein said. “Once I was on that sideline, I knew nobody was catching me. I saw two people coming up on me, but I knew I was gone. I don’t think I would have gotten out there without Chase’s block.”

Guilderland tried to rally but a fourth-down pass by Santabarbara midway through the fourth quarter was intercepted by Connor Margan, who returned the ball 54 yards untouched for the final score of the game.

“We just made mistakes. Turnovers kill you, we had four turnovers in the second half,” Guilderland coach Dan Penna said. “At times, we were playing inexperienced, we are trying to do too much. We have guys who are playing hard, but they just need to execute the little things better.”

Guilderland’s lone touchdown came on a 1-yard run by Santabarbara, a play that capped a 10-play, 99-yard drive near the end of the first half.

The possession was set up by a brilliant defensive play by Dillon Blanchard, who took the ball away from Shen’s Luke Plumadore near the Dutchmen goal line as Plumadore tried to stretch the ball over the goal line.


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