ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — The Shenendehowa football team did something Friday night no Section II team had managed to do in almost two years: beat Christian Brothers Academy. And the Plainsmen did so in remarkable, come-from-behind fashion, erasing a 14-point deficit on the road to take down the Brothers 28-14.
Shen/CBA has blossomed into one of the most intense rivalries in the section. But since Bob Burns took over as head coach for the Brothers in 2021, the matchup has become one-sided, with CBA winning four straight meetings, including back-to-back Class AA championship victories over the Plainsmen.
Friday night’s clash was playing out in an eerily similar fashion to last year’s Super Bowl that resulted in a 21-0 CBA win. The Brothers came out on homecoming weekend swinging with touchdowns on their second and third drives of the game. Starting quarterback Archie Jones connected with junior wide receiver Aidan Good for a 60-yard score; senior Donald Jones followed that up with a nine-yard scamper to pay dirt, and CBA had a 14-point edge in the first eight minutes of the game.
But Shen answered in emphatic fashion. On its’ first play from scrimmage in the second quarter, junior running back Ihsaan Alozie broke free for a 70-yard house call, cutting the Brothers’ lead in half.
The score remained 14-7 CBA at halftime, but that changed midway through the third stanza when Shen senior quarterback Michael Whatley dropped one in the bucket to Alozie from 23 yards out, tying the game at 14.
Shen’s defense stepped up on CBA’s ensuing drive. Senior linebacker Jason Clawson came up with a strip sack that was recovered by James Pepper Jr. That set up the Plainsmen in the red zone, and three plays later, senior wide receiver Blake Mello, who lined up under center, plowed his way to pay dirt on a one-yard sneak, giving Shen its’ first lead of the game at 21-14 with 3:13 remaining in the third quarter.
With CBA on the move to start the final stanza, Alozie’s brilliant all-around performance continued when he intercepted Jake Iacobaccio in the end zone. On the very next play, Alozie took a direct snap and got loose for an 80-yard touchdown run, giving the Plainsmen a 14-point cushion.
Mello sealed the game with an interception on the following CBA possession – the fourth takeaway of the night for the Shen defense.
Alozie is no stranger to the big stage. He rushed for 207 yards and three touchdowns in last year’s sectional semi-final matchup with Shaker. Friday night, he finished with 221 yards on the ground to go along with three total touchdowns, and an interception. Helping break Shen’s losing streak to the Brothers made his effort that much more special.
“I knew we had it in us; we worked our tails off this whole week,” said Alozie. “We had a great week of practice, but to come out here and do it on their homecoming night just means a lot to me, and the whole team. (It was) a good team win.”
Shen head coach Brian Clawson admired how his team stayed composed, even in the face of a sizeable, early deficit.
“There’s gonna be ups and downs in a football game,” said Clawson. “We knew if we stayed the course we were gonna come out on top. The players just left everything they had on the field. The sideline was into the game. The coaching staff – they coached their butt’s off. Just a total team win for Shenendehowa.”
Shen stays unbeaten on the year at 5-0, and with the combined record of their remaining regular season schedule being 6-11, has the fast track to the No. 1 seed in the Class AA playoffs. The Plainsmen remain on the road in Week 6 to face Saratoga Springs.
CBA falls to 4-1 and will look to regroup next Friday on the road against Guilderland.