Not once did Saratoga Springs march from one end of the field to the other in Friday night’s all-Saratoga County Super Bowl.
The Blue Streaks didn’t have to.
“Ballston Spa is a great football team. They smack you and really fly to the football,” Saratoga coach Terry Jones said after his team’s 31-7 triumph at Colonie High School. “We knew we had to cash in when we had our opportunities.”
Saratoga certainly did, producing all of its points after gaining possession on a short field in the most lopsided Section II Class AA final since Shenendehowa’s 30-0 rout of Troy in 2003. The farthest Saratoga traveled to score was 36 yards, and Luke Fauler capped that quick sequence with his second touchdown pass to put the Scotties away.
“We made critical mistakes in our end of the field. Against a team like that, you can’t do it,” said Ballston Spa coach John Bowen, after failing to guide the Scotties to their first championship. “Hats off to them. They capitalized on them.”
Fauler ran for a first-half touchdown and fired second-half scoring passes to Joey Moore and Jon Noonan. Tony DeLoatch also ran for a touchdown, Mike Daley booted a field goal and Saratoga (9-1) threw a defensive blanket over Ballston Spa in the second half in extended its winning skein to nine games.
The state’s No. 12-ranked team also defeated Ballston Spa (8-2) in an Empire Division matchup late in the regular season, 17-14, and Friday night’s success gave the Blue Streaks their first title since 2004 and fifth overall.
“We’re always rivals with Ballston Spa, in every sport,” said Fauler, a junior. “It’s just good to beat them.”
Ballston Spa made it a 14-7 game when Mark Seager hit Kyle Warmt with an eight-yard touchdown pass on the last play of the second quarter and Matt Beighey kicked the extra point. The Scotties finest series took 14 plays and covered 80 yards.
“We felt we had a decent game plan coming into the second half,” said Bowen. “We couldn’t sustain anything. We couldn’t get anything going.”
Saratoga did, though, taking just two plays to score after Josh Fabian lost a fumble and Hunter Hinds recovered early in the third quarter at the 13-yard line.
Fauler ran for a yard and then passed to a wide open Moore in the end zone for a 21-7 advantage. Fauler’s three-yard touchdown pass to Noonan with 5:40 left in the final frame made it 31-7.
“Ballston Spa keyed on our running game the last time we played and again tonight,” said Fauler. “With our play-action, there were a lot of openings.”
Fauler was an efficient 7-for-15 for 99 yards with no interceptions. The 11th-grader also scored on a one-yard run early in the second quarter, that touchdown sprint to the corner set up when DeLoatch returned a punt 27 yards to the Scotties 20.
“Luke stepped up really big tonight,” said DeLoatch, a senior running back and defensive end. “He had some big carries and made some big passes. He was the leader of our offense tonight.”
Saratoga’s offense received a gift soon after Fauler’s touchdown run, when a punted ball hit the foot of a Ballston Spa player and Andrew Brink recovered at the one. DeLoatch ran off tackle for a touchdown on Saratoga’s next play, and the second of Daley’s four PATs made it 14-0.
“Our defense and special teams put them in some holes, and we capitalized on their mistakes,” said Fauler.
“We capitalized because our line knows what to do, our quarterback knows what to do and our running backs pound the ball,” said DeLoatch.
A short Ballston Spa punt gave Saratoga the ball at the 25 and set up Daley’s 39-yard field goal early in the final frame. A defensive stop set up Fauler’s touchdown pass to Noonan later in the quarter, and Saratoga made another defensive stop before Joe Scully ended Ballston Spa’s final series with an interception.
“One of the things we’ve been able to do is turn the field around with our kicking game and defense,” said Jones. “We did it again tonight, and that allowed our offense to be successful.”
Moore caught four passes totaling 69 yards for Saratoga, which received a state quarterfinal bye and will see semifinal action in two weeks at Dietz Stadium in Kingston.
Seager was the game’s leading rusher with 80 yards on 16 carries. Seager had a 10-yard run and a nine-yard pass to James Casey, Warmt had a 15-yard run and Alex Nicol had a pair of nine-yard runs during the Scotties’ touchdown drive.
That was the first first-half touchdown Saratoga had allowed since its initial victory over the Scotties back on Oct. 9.
Ballston Spa made its only other title game appearance in 1978, at the Class B level, and lost to Johnstown.
“We won eight games which are the most for us since we moved up to Class AA. We got here,” said Bowen. “Of course we’d like to still be playing, but the guys have everything in the world to be proud of.”
Ballston Spa 0 7 0 0 — 7
Saratoga 0 14 7 10 — 31
Sara — Fauler 1 run (Daley kick).
Sara — DeLoatch 1 run (Daley kick).
BS — Warmt 8 pass from Seager (Beighey kick).
Sara — Moore 12 pass from Fauler (Daley kick).
Sara — Daley 39 field goal.
Sara — Noonan 3 pass from Fauler (Daley kick).