On Friday night in Mechanicville the Stillwater Warriors and Mechanicville Red Raiders played their annual Indian Bowl game, and when the 2000 plus fans in attendance drove home at the end of the night, they knew they had seen one for the ages.
Stillwater, and head coach Ian Godfrey saved their best for last, rolling the dice going for a two-point conversion in overtime, and freshman James Galarneau cashed in finding Ezra Echeandia in the corner of the end zone for the electrifying 29-28 victory over the Raiders.
This one had all the makings of a classic under the backdrop of the Indian Bowl tradition, both squads entered at 4-1, and the winner earned a sectional playoff berth. Many times the game fails to live up to the pregame hype, but this one didn’t disappoint.
Defense was the theme in the opening period as the Warriors and Raiders defensive units took center stage forcing numerous punts or turnovers on downs in a scoreless first quarter.
Early in the second Stillwater drew first blood when quarterback Sean Kane rolled left and found Ezra Echeandia for a 15 yard scoring strike and with the Max Lautenburg point after, the 7-0 lead.
At the 5:40 mark of the quarter it was Kane hitting Echeandia in stride on a beautiful post route from 50 yards out giving Stillwater a 14-0 advantage.
With just :34 remaining in the half, it was Kane again, this time under pressure finding Echeandia, who had slipped behind the Raider secondary, for a 57 yard scoring connection and the Warriors took the 21-0 lead to halftime.
If the second quarter belonged to the Warriors then Mechanicville owned the third . Midway through the period senior fullback Marc DeBates took the handoff and rumbled right down broadway for a 29 yard scoring romp cutting the lead to 21-7.
With 1:50 left in the period sophomore Evan Chapman took it in from nine yards out and with the point after by freshman Jake LaFountain, the Warriors lead was trimmed to 21-14.
Mechanicville pulled even with 8:40 remaining when DeBates powered in from the three and the Raiders had come all the way back from the three score deficit.
As regulation started, it would also finish with defense taking over, as neither squad threatened the scoreboard and the enormous crowd was treated to an overtime verdict.
Mechanicville took the first possession at the Stillwater 20 yard line, lost yardage, and then got it all back when Raider signal-caller Dan Motta found Keegan McHale just inside the right pylon with a 25-yard scoring strike and with the LaFountain extra point the home squad took it’s first lead of the night at 28-21.
Now it was Stillwater’s turn and they wasted little time, as Kane fired a strike to Curtis Miller from 15 yards out making it 28-27 and a successful point after would give the ball back to Mechanicville at the Stillwater 20 and play would continue.
But Coach Godfrey pushed all the chips to the center of the table, going for the two-point conversion and the “W”. Stillwater dialed up a pitch to Galarneau who had come in motion from left to right, and the freshman as he continued to roll threw a rocket to Echeandia in the end zone and the Warrior wide out was mobbed by teammates in a wild victory celebration.
With the win the Indian Bowl trophy heads to Stillwater, and the Warriors assure themselves of a post season bid. The Raiders should be there as well, needing a win next weekend when they host Taconic Hills.
Quite a night in Mechanicville, as the storied history of Indian Bowl contests added another chapter, playing one that arguably had the greatest finish of them all.