BY MICHAEL KELLY
AVERILL PARK — After their favorable Week 2 result, the Niskayuna Silver Warriors wanted to start piling up wins. Instead, the high school football team has followed up that week’s victory with a pair of too-close-for-comfort losses, tough ones to stomach for the squad.
The latest came in the form of today’s loss to Averill Park, which topped the Silver Warriors 35-28 using an on-point rushing attack. Against Niskayuna (1-3), Averill Park (2-2) rushed 49 times for 477 yards, with quarterback Tim Vermilya leading the way with 204 yards on 23 carries.
Niskayuna head coach John Furey said his team was prepared for Averill Park’s triple-option attack, but just could not get enough done at the line of scrimmage against a bigger squad with quality runners.
“They test your discipline,” Furey said. “They put bodies on bodies and they run the ball hard. That’s tough to defend.
“We worked it the best we could, but they just pounded and pounded and pounded,” Furey added.
Niskayuna had leads of 8-0 and 14-8 in the contest, but could not do enough against a Averill Park rushing arsenal which also saw running back Isaiah Moak turn 18 carries into 122 yards and two scores. After Niskayuna went ahead 14-8 in the second quarter, Averill Park scored the game’s next 20 points to take control.
“They definitely gave us a run for our money,” said Vermilya, who scored twice and also threw for a touchdown. “We came out hoping for a great game, and we got that from them.”
Niskayuna used a variety of big plays on offense to keep itself in the contest. For the Silver Warriors, quarterback Jake Shephard completed 11 of 16 passes and threw for a touchdown, while also rushing for a pair of scores and intercepting a Vermilya pass.
Will Malerk also rushed for a Niskayuna score, while senior wide receiver Jared Houghtaling caught Shephard’s touchdown pass. Houghtaling — along with DJ Endres, Malerk, and Brandon Munger — had multiple receptions for Niskayuna, with Houghtaling gathering four receptions for 65 yards and his score.
“Our offense was great,” Furey said. “They played some awesome football.”
Following Niskayuna’s 19-15 win in Week 2 against South Glens Falls, the Silver Warriors have dropped 20-16 and 35-28 decisions in Weeks 3 and 4, respectively. With three more games remaining in the regular season, Houghtaling said his team has its sights set on gaining more than moral victories.
“We can do a lot better,” Houghtaling said.
Averill Park 35, Niskayuna 28
Averill Park 8 14 6 7 — 35
Niskayuna 8 6 7 7 — 28
Niskayuna — Jake Shephard 1-yard touchdown run (Shephard conversion)
Averill Park — Tim Vermilya 65-yard touchdown run (Isaiah Moak conversion)
Niskayuna — Shephard 5-yard touchdown pass to Jared Houghtaling (Conversion failed)
Averill Park — Vermilya 36-yard touchdown pass to Antoneo Serrano-Cicero (Amanda Young kick)
Averill Park — Moak 2-yard touchdown run (Young kick)
Averill Park — Tim Vermilya 4-yard touchdown run (Kick failed
Niskayuna — Shephard 1-yard touchdown run (DJ Endres kick)
Averill Park — Moak 4-yard touchdown run (Young kick)
Niskayuna — Will Malerk 8-yard touchdown run (Endres kick)
Averill Park: Vermilya 2 of 4, 54 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT.
Niskayuna: Shephard 11 of 16, 173 yards, 1 TD
Averill Park: Serrano-Cicero 1-37, 1 TD; Ryan Wood 1-17.
Niskayuna: Houghtaling 4-65, 1 TD; DJ Endres 3-52; Brandon Munger 2-40; Malerk 2-16.
Averill Park: Vermilya 23-204, 2 TDs; Moak 18-122, 2 TDs; Serrano-Cicero 3-23; Zach Legare 5-28.
Niskayuna: Shephard 16-32, 2 TDs; Malerk 4-21, 1 TD; David Jones 6-18; Sean Haffner 4-8.