By Melanie Lekocevic
Capital Region Independent Media
RAVENA-COEYMANS-SELKIRK — It was by far the closest game of the season Friday night, but the Indians found a way to win in the semi-finals and are next headed to the championship game in Guilderland.
The Indians defeated Mechanicville-Hoosic Valley 14-13 at home, taking the lead in the fourth quarter for the team’s 10th consecutive win this season. Fourth quarter penalties would come back to haunt Mechanicville.
The team will next travel to Guilderland on Saturday morning for the championship game. Kickoff will be at 11 a.m. The Indians will play the winner of the Glens Falls/Schalmont contest.
The first quarter saw the ball change hands several times, with the Indians putting the first points on the board with a safety after a Mechanicville punt was blocked by Jayden Holl, giving the Indians an early 2-0 lead.
RCS took the 2-0 lead into the second quarter, with Mechanicville punting the ball and the Indians taking possession on their own 1-yard line.
The hometown team was able to drive the ball down the field all the way to Mechanicville’s 36-yard line, but the Indians turned the ball over on downs. That led to a Mechanicville drive that ended with a 14-yard touchdown pass to put the visiting team up 7-2 with the extra point.
The Indians went into the locker room at halftime behind, which hasn’t happened often in this season of high-scoring victories.
With just under five minutes left in the third quarter, RCS marched down the field before quarterback Kaden Potter connected with Jack McFerran for a 16-yard touchdown pass, putting the Indians ahead 8-7. The two-point conversion attempt fell short.
The third quarter ended with the Indians up by a single point.
On Mechanicville’s first possession of the fourth quarter, the visiting team drove the ball downfield all the way to the Indians’ 6-yard line before a touchdown pass into the end zone put the score at Mechanicville 13, RCS 8, with 9:49 left in the game. The attempted two-point conversion failed.
The next Indians’ drive was pivotal, including a couple of penalties that gave new life to the Indians and put them ahead in the game for good.
The drive started with the Indians taking possession of the ball on their own 33-yard line. An illegal procedure penalty on RCS put them at 1st down and 15. Potter connected with Thomas Burns on the next play but a 15-yard personal foul penalty on Mechanicville put the Indians into Mechanicville territory on the 48-yard line, before an Ethan Green run gave RCS a first down.
Another penalty on the visiting team put the Indians on the Mechanicville 20-yard line, and a Wyatt Algozzine run drove the ball to the 13-yard line. A big offsides penalty on Mechanicville would prove critical, giving the Indians a first down and goal.
Dominick Paljusaj, who has had a season filled with touchdowns, scored perhaps his most important running TD of the season, barely keeping his feet inbounds and giving the Indians a 14-13 lead. The two-point conversion attempt was no good.
Now, it was up to the Indians’ defense to get to work and they did, including a long pass that was intercepted by Mason Carkner with 3:25 left in the game.
Mechanicville got another chance after the Indians punted the ball, but they were unable to score, giving RCS a victory in their closest game of the season, winning 14-13.
The win gave the Indians a perfect 10-0 season, with eight straight wins in the regular season and another two in the postseason.