Big plays doom Burnt Hills

Somers turns close state semifinal into rout
Jeremy Clayton of Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake nurses an arm injury on the bench Friday against Somers at Dietz Stadium in Kingston. Somers won the Class A state semifinal game 48-24.
Jeremy Clayton of Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake nurses an arm injury on the bench Friday against Somers at Dietz Stadium in Kingston. Somers won the Class A state semifinal game 48-24.

Raw speed — and big plays that came from it — doomed Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake Friday night in a state Class A semifinal football game on the Dietz Stadium turf.

Matt Pires scored early and late on long gainers in a tone-setting second quarter, Messiah Horne supplied the clincher on an even longer play to start the fourth, and Somers pulled away, denying the Spartans a fifth trip to Syracuse with a 48-24 victory.

“We’ve seen speed like that, but not out of two kids,” Burnt Hills defensive tackle Jake Warren said. “They were fast. Very fast.”

Horne scored three of his four touchdowns in a put-away fourth quarter, starting with an 80-yard dash to begin the frame. The senior back ran for 220 of his 247 yards in that last quarter, which included a pair of interceptions by Vincent DiFilippo.

“Their big back got on a roll,” Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake coach Matt Shell said. “We missed a couple of tackles.”

Burnt Hills (10-2) hadn’t done much of that lately, allowing just two touchdowns in 10 quarters leading into the state semifinal contest — and neither came against the starting unit.

“No way,” Shell said, when asked if his teams had faced such speed in five previous semifinal games. “They were super fast.”

Pires’ 73-yard end-around for a touchdown and Kevin Graber’s extra point with 20 seconds left in the first half was the first of several stunners, boosting the Tuskers’ advantage to 21-10 three plays after the Spartans had scored on Darien LaPietro’s one-yard quarterback sneak.

“It was tough. It took the wind out of us a bit,” Shell said of Pires’ zig-zag sprint through the

BH-BL defense. “Get those backs in space and they’re a nightmare.”

Burnt Hills clawed within 21-17 in the third quarter on a 39-yard scoring pass from LaPietro to Mike LeVan before Somers (Section I, 11-1) piled up its four fourth-quarter touchdowns in a span of five plays. Horne began the points barrage with his 80-yard dash.

“That was big,” Warren, a senior, said. “That was a big point in the game.”

Two plays after DiFilippo’s first interception, Horne ran 52 yards, and Pires went the last 20 to extend Somers’ lead. Another pick by DiFilippo led to a 38-yard scoring run by Horne.

Horne ran 50 yards for his final touchdown, one play after LaPietro threw incomplete on a fourth-down play.

Burnt Hills got its last touchdown on an 18-yard pass from Patrick Hopsicker to Jeremy Clayton.

“Great season,” Warren, one of BH-BL’s 19 upperclassmen, said. “I couldn’t ask for a better group of guys to play my senior season with. We did something nobody expected.”

Burnt Hills won its seventh Section II title since 2006 this season, but first since 2012.

“I’m happy with the season,” Shell said. “This is a tough one to lose, but I’m super happy with the season. We put ourselves in a big-time game, and the kids played hard. We were right there. Right there.”

Horne gave Somers the lead with a three-yard touchdown run in the first quarter and Burnt Hills answered on Connor McCormick’s 23-yard field on the last play of the period. Two plays into the second frame, Kevin Olifiers hit Pires with a 61-yard touchdopwn bomb down the left sideline.

Jacob Stanko was named BH-BL’s most outstanding

offensive player after rushing for 109 yards on 24 carries. Horne garnered the same award for Somers. He had seven carries for 27 yards through three quarters, but in the last frame, the senior ran six times for his 220.

Burnt Hills had won

seven in a row since 19-16 loss to Averill Park in Week 4,

including playoff wins against South Glens Falls (57-27), Queensbury (42-24), Averill Park (24-6) and Massena

(57-10) last week when Stanko ran for five touchdowns.

“I can’t say enough about the senior leadership we had,” Shell said. “They did a great job of bringing the underclassmen along.”

Burnt Hills dipped to 4-2 in state semifinals, with wins over Nyack in 2008 and Cornwall in 2009, 2011 and 2012. The Spartans won their only state championship in 2012 against Sweet Home. They lost in a 2010 state semi to Harrison.

The Tuckers will take on Greece Athena (Section V, 12-0) next Friday at 3 for the state championship at the Carrier Dome in Syracuse.


Cambridge earned its fifth state championship game berth but first since 2005 with a 61-6 Class D semifinal win over Haldane (Section I, 3-7).

Cambridge (12-0) raced to a 27-0 lead after one quarter and was up at the half 47-6 en route to its sixth game with 60 points.

Burnt Hills 3  7 7  7 — 24

Somers 7 14 0 27 — 48

S–Horne 3 run (Graber kick)

B–McCormick 23 FG

S–Pires 61 pass from Olifiers (Graber kick)

B–LaPietro 1 run (McCormick kick)

S–Pires 73 run (Graber kick)

B–LeVan 39 pass from LaPietro (McCormick kick)

S–Horne 80 run (Graber kick)

S–Pires 20 run (Graber kick)

S–Horne 38 run (Graber kick)

S–Horne 50 run (kick failed)

B–Clayton 18 pass from Hopsicker (McCormick kick)

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