SARATOGA SPRINGS – Wes Eglintine had to sit and watch last season as the Saratoga Springs football team struggled to manufacture points.
“First game against Albany last year. Sixth play, I tore my ACL,” Eglintine said after Saratoga reached the large-school final for the second time in three years. “I don’t take any snap for granted.”
Friday night the Blue Streaks senior quarterback propelled his team into the Section II Class AA Super Bowl with his running and passing exploits.
Eglintine threw a trio of scoring passes in the first half and ran six yards for the winning touchdown with 24 seconds left as Saratoga beat Shaker 29-22 in a classic semifinal game.
His most significant snap Friday came on a second-and-goal from the six, when he ran up the middle and into the end zone to break a 22-22 tie. Jake Williams booted the extra point, and Lewi Clark’s interception soonafter ended the thriller on the Blue Streaks’ turf.
“It was a called play,” Eglintine said of his go-ahead touchdown. “I ran behind our best lineman, Kevin Toote.”
Saratoga (Empire Division No. 1, 9-0) and Troy (Liberty Division No. 1, 9-0) will meet in the Class AA final next Friday at Casey Stadium at the University at Albany. Saratoga never got a sniff of the playoffs last year due to youth and injuries. The Blue Streaks used four different quarterbacks.
“This is what I always dreamed of, going to the Super Bowl,” Eglintine said.
Saratoga defeated Shaker in the 2015 Super Bowl 19-14. That was the halftime score Friday.
“I couldn’t be happier for these kids,” Saratoga coach Terry Jones said. “They worked so hard to get to this point.”
Saratoga got the game’s final points after Avery Mickle intercepted Shaker quarterback Joe Clausi and returned the ball 20 yards to the Blue Bison 36 with 1:37 to go.
“That interception, I’m speechless,” Eglintine said. “At first I thought it was an incomplete pass. Then saw him running with the ball. That led to the touchdown.”
Eglintine fired a 29-yard pass to Carter Steingraber to begin Saratoga’s winning march. After a five-yard false start and a six-yard run by Eglintine, the teams had offsetting penalties. Eglintine scored after that.
Eglintine threw two touchdown passes to Christian Kondo in the second quarter and another to Steingraber with 14 seconds left, that 4-yard play giving the Blue Streaks a 19-14 advantage.
Kondo scored on catches covering 9 and 30 yards.
Williams kicked a 22-yard field goal to cap Saratoga’s first drive of the third quarter which was set up on a kickoff fumble recovery by Andrew Zilka.
Shaker (Liberty No. 2, 7-2) answered to tie the contest when Jack Bush caught a 15-yard touchdown pass and Clausi threw a 2-pointer to Wil Pepe.
“These kids have faced some adversity this year and they never backed down,” Jones said. “We knew it was going to be this type of game.”
Ravion Burt and Joe Toutai ran for Shaker touchdowns in the first half.
Eglintine was 19-for-29 passing for 274 yards, and ran 24 times for a game-high 86 yards. Kondo had seven catches for 121 yards.
Shaker 7 7 8 0 – 22
Saratoga 0 19 3 7 – 29
Shak – Burt 4 run (Younger kick)
Sara – Kondo 9 pass from Eglintine (Williams kick)
Shak – Toutai 4 run (Younger kick)
Sara – Kondo 30 pass from Eglintine (kick failed)
Sara – Steingraber 4 pass from Eglintine (pass failed)
Sara – Willims 22 FG
Shak – Bush 15 pass from Clausi (Pepe pass from Clausi)
Sara – Eglintine 6 run (Williams kick)
Reach Gazette Sportswriter Jim Schiltz at 518-395-3143, [email protected] or @jim_schiltz on Twitter.
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