BALLSTON SPA — You can count ’em up quick the number of noteworthy offensive plays Ballston Spa produced in its Class A Grasso Division football game with Burnt HiIlls-Ballston Lake Friday night.
They proved to be just enough.
A couple of long runs, a kick and an even bigger catch combined with a load of defense to lift the Scotties to a 9-7 win over the three-time defending Section II champions.
“That’s been the backbone,” first-year Ballston Spa coach Jason Ohnsman said after his Scotties pinned down the state’s No. 8 team. “That’s four straight games we’ve played good defense. The guys play every snap hard.”
Ballston Spa made a goal-line stand to thwart Burnt Hills’ opening drive, Gregg Dort intercepted a pass to end the Spartans’ last gasp, and the Scotties broke only once defensively before answering soon after with the winning points.
“We knew from the beginning we could play with these guys,” Ballston Spa running back and linebacker James Prastio Jr. said.
Tyler Beverly caught a 31-yard touchdown pass from Keegan Zoller for the go-ahead points with 4:48 left. Justin Dawes had given Ballston Spa a 3-0 lead in the third quarter with a 20-yard field goal.
“Coach gave us the speech,” Prastio said. “‘Play with each other. Play with heart. Play as a unit. If you do, we’ll come out smiling.'”
Burnt Hills (3-1, 3-1) lost starting quarterback Ryan Salisbury to an ankle injury three plays into the game, on a drive that eventually ended with Diamonte Sanderson being stopped on a fourth-and-goal from the 1.
Backup Burnt Hills quarterback Michael Manning was able to engineer a go-ahead, fourth-quarter touchdown drive that Sanderson capped with a 35-yard dash to the end zone with 8:19 left. Just before that, Caeden LaPietro took a screen pass and zipped 37 yards.
“You can’t run everything with your backup [quarterback],” Burnt Hills coach Matt Shell said. “They made a couple more plays than we did.”
Beverly got beyond the Burnt Hills secondary when he snagged his touchdown pass near the 10 and raced to the end zone. Aidan Thomas had caught a 9-yard pass on the play before, and Prastio had an 8-yard run before that.
“My offensive coordinator [Ryan O’Reilly] saw a few things we might be able to get away with, and the kids executed,” Ohnsman said. “Before the touchdown pass, he goes, ‘I’m going to take a shot right now.'”
Prastio led Ballston Spa (3-1, 3-1) with 117 rushing yards on 14 carries, with the senior breaking off runs of 27 and 31 yards to help set up Dawes’ field goal with 4:44 left in the third quarter. His 8-yard run in the closing seconds also gave Ballston Spa a first down before Zoller ended the contest with a kneel-down.
Sanderson ran for 81 yards on 15 carries, and LaPietro, who came in with an area-leading 10 touchdowns, managed 69 yards on 13 carries. Manning was 4-for-9 passing for 65 yards with the late pickoff on a fourth-down play.
Ballston Spa has won three in a row since a 10-6 loss to Queensbury, with victories over Gloversville (49-6) and Mohonasen (41-13) before Friday’s physical triumph.
“That’s a tough team,” Ohnsman said of the Spartans. “They’re well-coached. They have tough kids. There’s a reason they’re in the Super Bowl every year and are state-ranked. … This is awesome.”
Burnt Hills 0 0 0 7 — 7
Ballston Spa 0 0 3 6 — 9
BS — Dawes 20 FG
BH — Sanderson 35 run (Sbuttoni kick)
BS — Beverly 31 pass from Zoller (kick failed)