SARATOGA SPRINGS — Entering its homecoming game Friday, Saratoga Springs had two close losses on its resume, so finishing was on the Blue Streaks’ minds.
Fourteen fourth-quarter points helped Saratoga (1-2) do just that in a 35-18 Class AA football win over Schenectady before 2,113 in attendance.
“We’ve had really close games, and we just have to finish in the second half,” said senior quarterback Nate Siewert, whose two touchdown tosses in the second half helped atone for a rough first 24 minutes.
Schenectady (0-2) showed a lot of promise in the defeat, but Saratoga played more like a team with something to prove.
With the Blue Streaks leading 21-12 after three quarters, Siewert connected with Chris Youngs for a 30-yard scoring pass 14 seconds into the final quarter.
On Saratoga’s next possession, it only took the Blue Streaks three plays to rack up 62 yards, capped by Jared Arpei’s 20-yard run to give them a 35-12 lead.
“This is a young team, we’re still learning,” Siewert said. “And we’re getting better every game.”
Things started well for the Patriots, who took 10 plays — including nine runs — to score on their opening drive, capped by Damire Smith’s 4-yard run.
On Saratoga’s first drive, Jakiem Edge made a great interception at the Patriots’ 1-yard line to thwart a potential Saratoga score.
The teams each had two touchdowns in the first half, with Schenectady’s second coming on Moses Grant’s 1-yard plunge after a run-exclusive drive.
The only difference was that Siewert found Youngs for a conversion pass to give the Blue Streaks a 14-12 halftime lead.
Schenectady coach Carm DePoalo saw some things to be encouraged by.
“Our running game got off real well, we got some push up front,” DePoalo said. “And then we just self-destructed. We started missing blocks.
“But, you know, Saratoga played well tonight,” he added. “Much better than we saw on film and better than they played last week.”
Saratoga, which has been alternating Siewert and sophomore Rodell Evans at quarterback this season, then used both of its field generals on the opening drive of the third quarter. Evans ran the ball three times for 19 yards, while Siewert had one run for three yards and then threw a 17-yard scoring pass to Christian Mello to give Saratoga the 21-12 lead.
“This is new for Saratoga, I’ve never seen it before,” Siewert said of the alternating. “It’s part of rebuilding our young team and making sure the program stays strong.”
Siewert was 1 for 3 passing for 3 yards and two interceptions in the first half, but finished 5 of 9 for 52 yards, the pair of touchdowns and no further interceptions.
The Patriots’ running game was on point, as Smith — who had a beautiful 80-yard scoring run in the fourth quarter — finished with 13 carries for 170 yards and the two scores, while Grant added 16 carries for 77 yards and the one touchdown.
But while Schenectady had two primary backs, Saratoga spread the wealth. John Bidonde finished with a high of 92 yards on 14 carries, while Evans contributed 73 yards on nine carries. He also completed two of five passes for 21 yards.
The Patriots face CBA next week.
“I thought we were prepared,” DePoalo said. “There are better things we can do next week. We’ll go back to the drawing board and try to upset CBA.”
Schenectady 6 6 0 6 — 18
Saratoga 0 14 7 14 — 35
Sch — Smith 4 run (run failed)
Sar — Evans 1 run (kick failed)
Sch — Grant 1 run (run failed)
Sar — Murray 20 run (Youngs pass from Siewert)
Sar — Mello 17 pass from Siewert (Slavett kick)
Sar — Youngs 30 pass from Siewert (kick failed)
Sar — Arpei 20 run (Bidonde run)
Sch — Smith 80 run (run failed)