Rugged Rams fall short after late comeback effort

A game of football is more often won by the team that makes fewer mistakes. Friday night the Amsterdam Rugged Rams varsity football played a turnover-plagued first half and tried to overcome a 26 point deficit with a determined second half, but in the end came up short in a 26-21 loss to Troy at Lynch Literacy Academy field.

“It’s got to be every quarter, every second,” Amsterdam head coach Doug Edick said as he addressed his team after the game. “It’s the start of the game. We have to start with energy.”

For the second straight week the Rugged Rams had to overcome a big deficit against a quality opponent. The AHS defense shut down a talented Queensbury team in the second half of their game last week giving the Rams offense a chance to respond and nearly pull off the comeback. Friday night was nearly a repeat performance.

Trailing 26-0, Amsterdam’s defense led by senior Dylan Valikonis’ quarterback sack on third down with Troy driving inside the AHS 15 yard line, forced the Flying Horses to turn the ball over on downs. With 1:30 left to play in the third quarter, the result on offense was electric.

AHS senior running back Brian Stanavich had been bottled up by a quick Flying Horses defense for much of the first half, but on the second play from scrimmage on the Rams next possession, Stanavich found an opening and raced 75 yards for the Rugged Rams first score of the game.

“When he (Stanavich) finds a seam in the defense, he’s going to break it.” Coach Edick said. “Troy is a good team and they are quick to the ball.”

Amsterdam’s Ben Rhodes made a leaping catch in the back of the end zone and kept his feet in bounds to complete the two point conversion and cut the Troy led to 26-8, but the Rams weren’t finished and on the next Troy possession it was the Rugged Rams who were quicker to the ball.

Troy running back Damani Soares, who had dominated in the first half with touchdown runs of 10 yards and 43 yards, fumbled deep in Troy territory. Valikonis recovered the ball at the Troy 22 giving the AHS offense a chance to punch it in the end zone and narrow the Troy lead again.

David Crawford took over as quarterback in the fourth quarter for AHS and drove the Rams to the Troy eight yard line where Stanavich showed his determination once again. After having been stopped on a first and goal play, Stanavich appeared trapped by the Troy defense, but the talented AHS back reversed field and powered his way through three Troy defenders and into the end zone. Amsterdam trailed 26 -14 with 10:48 left to play in the game.

“The kids fought back,” Coach Edick said. “David Crawford did a tremendous job coming in with no reps at quarterback.”

Crawford guided the Rams down the field on their next possession and found the end zone again on a 55 yard touchdown reception by Jake Smitka with 3:33 left to play. Following the extra point kick, Amsterdam had ripped off 21 unanswered point but still trailed 26-21.The comeback ended when Troy picked up a pair of first downs by Soares and ran out the clock. The effort was there especially in the second half for the Rugged Rams, but it needs to be all four quarters.

“I’m proud of the kids and how they responded,” Coach Edick said. “We’ve got to start out better, and we have to stop the turnovers.”

Troy benefited from three AHS miscues in the first half. Dylan Casey recovered a fumble and rumbled 44 yards and a score with 8:52 to play in the first half that put Troy up 26-0. The Flying Horses also ended the next AHS drive deep into their own territory when cornerback Randy Jefferson intercepted a pass at the Troy 14 yard line. Troy’s Joe Casale also intercepted an AHS pass stopping a drive early in the second quarter leading to Soares’ second touchdown run. The Flying Horses also rolled the dice on fourth down and came away with a 30 yard touchdown catch by Tavin Moore.

Amsterdam (0-3) will face Mohonasen in the Homecoming game on Saturday, September 26, at Lynch Literacy Academy field. Game time is set for 3pm.

(Photos by Tim Becker)

Scott Mulford

Scott Mulford has been covering local sports for over 20 years. He previously wrote for the Amsterdam Star and The Free Press of the Mohawk Valley.