Football: Spartans earn another state title shot

With a big second period, Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake earned four more quarters and another shot at th

With a big second period, Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake earned four more quarters and another shot at that elusive New York state championship.

Tom Ruppel scored on a short sprint and a long one less than two minutes apart before Ryan McDonnell’s quarterback sneak capped a three-touchdown assault, and the Spartans went on to post a 35-14 state Class A semifinal win over Cornwall Friday night at Dietz Stadium.

Ruppel finished with three touchdowns and 215 rushing yards, Dan Porter contributed a touchdown and 140 ground yards, and Eric Dillon recovered a fumble, intercepted a pass and pounced on an onside kick in Burnt Hills’ second semi­final triumph over Cornwall in three years, and third semifinal victory in four years.

“We were very upset over last year’s loss. This is so much better. It feels great to be going back to the Dome,” Ruppel said. “Everyone played great. We all gave it 110 percent.”

Burnt Hills struggled on offense in last year’s 17-7 semifinal loss to Harrison, with its defense delivering the lone touchdown on a fumble return.

“Last year, that team hadn’t faced any adversity,” said McDonnell. “They breezed through everything and didn’t know how to handle it.”

Cornwall (Section IX, 10-2) couldn’t handle Burnt Hills (11-1), which dominated with its offensive line Friday night and continually made key defensive stops against the state’s No. 4-ranked team.

“We executed very well,” said Burnt Hills coach Matt Shell, after his team’s 10th consecutive victory and second state tournament rout. “If we’re going to be successful next week, we’ve got to execute well again. We’ll need another big performance.”

Burnt Hills will meet either Aquinas (Section V, 10-1) or Maine-Endwell (Section IV, 11-0) in the state title game Friday at 2 p.m. at the Carrier Dome in Syracuse. Aquinas is the defending Class A champion.

Burnt Hills beat Nyack in the 2008 semifinals, 14-13, and topped Cornwall in 2009, 41-16, before losing both times to Sweet Home (35-28, 34-7) in New York champ­ionship games.

“I’m real excited to be a part of this group,” Shell said. “It’s a great group of kids. They work hard, down after down.”

Dillon’s fumble recovery set up Ruppel’s 12-yard touchdown that broke a scoreless tie, and the sen­ior running back zipped 73 yards for another score on the first play after a Cornwall punt. Another punt led to McConnell’s one-yard sneak with 12 seconds left in the opening half, and the junior’s third extra point made it 21-0.

“Scoring the three touchdowns in the second quarter was huge. We capitalized on their mistakes. We capitalized on field position,” said McDonnell. “It was so big for us.”

Mike White threw a 28-yard touchdown pass to Joe O’Rourke to get Cornwall on the board in the third quarter. Porter answered on the second play of Burnt Hills’ follow-up possession on a 46-yard dash to the end zone.

Ruppel scored on an 11-yard fourth-quarter run after Shomari Ingram’s interception, and Peter Catal scored on a five-yard run for the Dragons with 1:46 left.

“We just played our game. We played really well,” said McDonnell. “We’re going to have a part on the bus ride tonight.”

Burnt Hills, ranked No. 6 in the state, halted Cornwall’s seven-game win streak. Cornwall had scored at least four touchdowns in each of those victories, and was coming off a 44-19 regional win over Poughkeepsie. Burnt Hills clubbed Franklin Academy last week, 63-20.

Cornwall 0 0 6 8 — 14

BH-BL 0 21 7 7 — 35

B–Ruppel 12 run (McDonnell kick).

B–Ruppel 73 run (McDonnell kick).

B–McDonnell 1 run (McDonnell kick).

C–O’Rourke 28 pass from White (kick failed).

B–Porter 46 run (McDonnell kick).

B–Ruppel 11 run (McDonnell kick).

C–Catal 5 run (Catal run).

Categories: High School Sports

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