Scotties steal momentum, defeat Plainsmen (with photo gallery)

Shenendehowa had the ball and momentum to start the third quarter in its early-season showdown Thurs
PHOTOGRAPHER:

Shenendehowa had the ball and momentum to start the third quarter in its early-season showdown Thursday night at Ballston Spa.

“We did respond a little bit in the second quarter, but we did nothing in our opening drive to start the second half,” veteran Shenendehowa coach Brent Steuerwald said after Ballston Spa’s 34-18 victory. “I thought it was a critical drive.”

Ballston Spa made a defensive stop to keep a two-point lead, and produced touchdowns on its first three drives in an order-restoring second half to take the Class AA Empire Division opener matching unbeaten and state-ranked rivals.

Mark Seager and Matt Clark scored on short runs in the third quarter, and Josh Fabian did the same in the fourth as the Scotties beat the Plainsmen for the second straight time and kept Steuerwald’s victory total at 297.

“When we came out in the second half, I told the guys, ‘Don’t tell me what you’re going to do,’ ” said Ballston Spa coach John Bowen. “I told them, ‘Show me what kind of heart is inside those jerseys.’

“The wheels had started to fall off a little bit, and we righted the ship.”

Shenendehowa battled back from a two-touchdown deficit in the second period, scoring on a botched punt and a pass from Alex Kalish to Bronson Greene to make it 14-12.

“The way my guys played, there seemed to be a level of comfort that set in,” said Bowman. “A couple of plays, and Shenendehowa was right back in it.”

And with a couple of plays — five to be exact — Ballston Spa regained all of the momentum it had lost.

Kyle Warmt raced 34 yards on the Scotties’ first offensive play of the third quarter, and soon after Seager went four yards into the end zone for his second touchdown and a 20-12 advantage. Seager had another big game from his quarterback spot, rushing for 143 yards on 23 carries, while Shenendehowa played without its star tailback, Suhayb Banks, who sustained a knee injury in last week’s 28-27 win over Schenectady that could keep him out for the entire season.

“The real question now is how are we going to respond to the defeat. Everything was going well, and now, not so well,” said Steuerwald. “To me, it’s a moment of truth. If we can come up with a little anger and determination, good things can happen.”

Shenendehowa struggled without Banks, gaining 109 rushing yards, while Kalish was 9-for-22 passing for 175 yards. Kalish accounted for Shenendehowa’s only second-half touchdown on an 11-yard run to begin the fourth quarter, that coming after Clark’s two-yard touchdown run and Matt Beighey’s extra point had extended Ballston Spa’s lead to 27-12.

“We didn’t really execute,” said Kalish, a senior. “Ballston Spa did a great job of swarming to the ball.”

But against the pass, the Scotties were not as efficient.

“Our pass defense wasn’t where it needs to be,” said Bowen. “We’ve got to shore that up.”

Kalish hit Bobby Culkin with a 39-yard pass, and found David Boyle for 13 to set up his 20-yard scoring strike to Greene with 23.1 seconds left in the second quarter. After Kalish was halted on a two-point conversion try and teammate Vince Menneto intercepted Seager, Kalish went deep on Shenendehowa’s final play of the half, Manny Hernandez tipped to ball to Mike Daly, and Daly made it to the one-yard line before being hauled down on a play that covered 52 yards.

Shenendehowa got its first touchdown earlier in the quarter. A punt snap sailed over a leaping Troy Gargiulo, and the Ballston Spa junior bobbled the ball in the end zone before getting off a short kick which Xavier White returned six yards for a score.

Seager could have had a 99-yard touchdown run on Ballston Spa’s drive before that quirky play, but a quick whistle limited the three-year starter to a three-yard gain, although he never went down.

Seager had opened the scoring on a four-yard run in the opening quarter, and Warmt took a pitch from his quarterback and zipped 56 yards for another touchdown later in the frame.

“Ballston Spa is going to be tough to beat if their quarterback stays healthy,” Steuerwald said of Seager, who ran for four touchdowns in the Scotties’ 32-21 crossover win against the Plainsmen in 2008. “He’s not the biggest kid, but he’s a very talented kid. He’s the difference in their program right now.”

Warmt rushed for 121 yards on six carries, while Clark sparked the Ballston Spa defense from his linebacker position.

Shenendehowa  0 12  0 6 — 18

Ballston Spa 14  0 13 7 — 34

BS — Seager 4 run (Beighey kick).

BS — Warmt 56 run (Beighey kick).

Shen — White 6 punt return (kick failed).

Shen — Greene 20 pass from Kalish (run failed).

BS — Seager 4 run (kick failed).

BS — Clark 2 run (Beighey kick).

Shen — Kalish 11 run (pass failed).

BS — Fabian 2 run (Beighey kick).

Categories: High School Sports

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