SCHUYLERVILLE — The Moriah Vikings had two golden opportunities to seize momentum in the second quarter after recovering fumbles and advancing deep into Rensselaer territory.
But both times the Vikings stalled, taking a 12-0 deficit into the half.
No. 5-ranked Rensselaer used the third quarter to turn what had been a close game into a blowout, scoring 25 points en route to a dominating 50-0 victory over Moriah in the NYSPHSAA Class D football regionals at Schuylerville High School Saturday.
“The first half showed how we were capable of playing. The third quarter … that was just — I don’t know really what happened in that third quarter,” Moriah coach Don Tesar said. “We just never got anything going, and that’s not typical of the way we’ve played all year.”
The Section II champion Rams (10-1) held Moriah’s vaunted rushing attack to just 38 yards on 37 carries. The Vikings were able to make that number look more respectable on the final drive with the game out of reach, gaining 47 yards on seven attempts.
Moriah was hampered early on when it lost starting quarterback Cole Gaddor to an ankle injury in the first quarter. The junior tried to return to the game — taking a few snaps — but spent a most of the game on the sideline. Tyler Pratt took over the offense but completed just two passes, both to Rensselaer players.
The Vikings finished with five first downs, but four of those came on the final drive. The only first down in meaningful time came on a pass interference call against the Rams.
Rensselaer, meanwhile, racked up 439 yards of offense — 233 on the ground and 206 through the air. The Rams could have built a larger first-half lead if not for three lost fumbles and a turnover on downs on a failed conversion of a fourth-and-one play.
The Butler brothers of Seth and Brandon stole the show for Rensselaer, combining for five of the Rams’ eight touchdowns — four of which came in the third quarter.
Seth, a bruising runner, gashed Moriah for a game-high 143 rushing yards and three scores on just 11 carries. He scored on runs of 4 and 25 yards in the third quarter; he scored the game’s first touchdown on a 7-yard burst in the second quarter.
Brandon turned a short pass from Steven Harwood into an 80-yard scoring scamper in the third and added a 45-yard interception return three minutes later to close out the third-period scoring and gave the Rams a 37-0 lead. He finished with two interceptions while Seth had one.
Not surprisingly, Seth earned the Offensive Player of the Game for the Rams, while Brandon took home defensive honors. Harwood finished 6-for-11 for 206 yards and two touchdowns.
The Vikings were not without chances, with most of them coming in the first half. After a scoreless first quarter, Moriah recovered a muffed punt at the Rams’ 33-yard line. The Vikings lost a yard on three plays before turning it over on an incomplete fourth-down throw.
Rensselaer responded with a three-play drive, started when Harwood hit Tyler Oliver for a 38-yard gain down the right sideline. Seth Butler ran for gains of 24 and 7 yards, the last getting him in the end zone for a 6-0 lead four minutes into the second quarter.
Moriah had to punt its next possession away but regained control when the Rams fumbled the first snap of the drive, giving the Vikings the ball at the 8-yard line. Facing a fourth-and-goal from the 1, the Vikings were flagged for a false start. Pratt’s fourth-down throw was batted down by Rensselaer’s Gino Gigliotti in the end zone.
The Rams scored on their next possession and forced Moriah to punt, but once again fumbled the ball deep in their own territory. Aided by a pass interference call by Rensselaer, the Vikings got to the 8-yard line in the closing minute of the first half. Pratt was sacked for a 15-yard loss and then picked off by Butler.
“Those were big goal-line stands for them,” Tesar said. “We were down 12-0. It could have easily been 12-6, maybe 12-12 with those two. But we were trying to run the offense without our starting quarterback, and he’s got most of our snaps this year.”
Backup tailback Arto Nadeau led Moriah with 32 rushing yards. Cameron Wright, who earned Offensive Player of the Game for the Vikings, added 13 while playing with turf toe. Taylor Whalen was named Moriah’s Defensive Player of the Game.
The Vikings finished their season 5-6, capturing their fourth Section VII Class D title in five years.
“Our goal was to get here and see how we could do,” Tesar said. “We managed to get to here. It’s what they shoot for every year. They worked hard in the offseason. Now we just have to put it together again with the group that’s coming back and try to get back here next year.”
Rensselaer 50, Moriah 0
Moriah 0 0 0 0 — 0
Rensselaer 0 12 25 13 — 50
R- S. Butler 7 run (pass fails), 4:43.
R- Forgea 27 pass from Harwood (run fails), 9:46.
R- S. Butler 4 run (Stevens kick), 3:54.
R- B. Butler 80 pass from Harwood (kick missed), 5:46.
R- S. Butler 25 run (kick missed), 6:16.
R- B. Butler 45 interception return (kick missed), 8:34.
R- Martin 5 run (Stevens kick), 2:40.
R- Martin 27 run (kick missed), 7:14.
M- Nadeau 5-32; Wright 15-13; Nephew 2-8; Whalen 4-8; Welsh 1-6; Adkins 2-2; Garnica 1-2; Beeman 1-0; Gaddor 1-(-2); Greenough 3-(-11); Team 2-(-12). Total: 37-38.
R- S. Butler 11-143, 3 TD; Martin 8-47, 2 TD; Forgea 2-35; Harwood 2-4; Stevens 1-2; Bilpuh 1-2; Gigliotti 1-1; Fahrenkopf 1-(-1). Totals: 27-233, 5 TD.
M- Pratt 0-8-2-0; Gaddor 0-3-1-0. Totals: 0-11-3-0.
R- Harwood 6-11-0-206, 2 TD; Forgea 0-1-0-0. Totals: 6-12-0-206, 2 TD.
R- Oliver 2-85; B. Butler 1-80, TD; Forgea 1-27, TD; S. Butler 1-8; Fahrenkopf 1-6. Totals: 6-206, 2 TD.
R-. B. Butler 2, S. Butler.