Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake football runs past Niskayuna to clinch division title

Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake's Michael Puglisi (5) carries the ball Friday against Niskayuna.

Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake's Michael Puglisi (5) carries the ball Friday against Niskayuna.

NISKAYUNA — There was a lot of running in Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake’s 35-7 win over Niskayuna on Friday night.

First, there was the Spartans’ own running game — which racked up 239 yards by halftime en route to a 28-0 lead. Then there was the running the defense did in chasing Niskayuna quarterback Dan Quinn out of the pocket.

And, except for a fair number of penalties, it was a strong performance for Burnt Hills (3-0 Grasso Division, 6-1 overall), which clinched the Grasso Division with the victory.

The Spartans, ranked eighth in the Class A state poll, needed only three plays to light up the scoreboard. After two long runs by Michael Frattarola and Michael Puglisi, Tyler Manning threw a 15-yard touchdown pass to Justin Gray just 1:01 into the game.

“That was huge,” Burnt Hills coach Matt Shell said. “We script our first drive every week. The kids followed the script and executed it perfectly.”

Burnt Hills scored on its second possession, too. Using seven rushes and one pass, the Spartans covered 65 yards and reached the end zone on Frattarola’s 6-yard carry.

The rest of the first quarter slowed down significantly, as both teams were penalized heavily. That spell ended with the Spartans’ third score, set up by by Luke Zoller’s interception. Burnt Hills capped it off with a one-yard run by Frattarola 24 seconds into the second quarter.

“It comes down to our composure as a team,” said Burnt Hills senior defensive end Jack Shea, who had several tackles for loss. “Obviously there were a lot of calls that were getting everybody riled up — it was a physical game, definitely very emotional — but everybody just kept working hard.”

For the half, Burnt Hills was penalized seven times for 80 yards, while Niskayuna was flagged six times for 33 yards.

A near-miss for Niskayuna turned into Burnt Hills’ fourth score. After recovering a receiver’s fumble in its end zone, the Spartans ran 11 plays and reached the end zone on Rocco Mareno’s acrobatic five-yard touchdown catch from Manning.

While Niskayuna didn’t attempt too many runs because of the early deficit, it was never easy. The Silver Warriors (2-1 Grasso Division, 5-3 overall) rushed 15 times for minus-2 yards. Quarterback Dan Quinn was 19 of 34 passing with two interceptions, 242 yards and a fourth-quarter touchdown to senior Devin Robinson on a perfectly thrown ball.

“We were able to control the run game, get a good pass rush, cause a couple of turnovers,” Shell said. “That quarterback, he’s a talented thrower, but he’s a very good runner as well. It was kind of nerve-wracking coming into the game, making sure we control him.”

Perhaps most importantly to Burnt Hills, it took the enthusiasm out of Niskayuna and its crowd on its senior night.

“To go on the road and win on somebody else’s senior night,” Shea said. “They think they’re going to walk all over us. We heard all the disrespect coming into this week, we knew we had to show up and fight.”

Frattarola led Burnt Hills with 130 yards and the two touchdowns on 15 carries. Puglisi added 80 yards on eight carries.

Niskayuna wraps up its regular season next Saturday at Queensbury, while Burnt Hills hosts South Glens Falls next Friday.

Burnt Hills 14 14 7 0 — 35

Niskayuna 0 0 0 7 — 7

BH — Gray 15 pass from Manning (Sbuttoni kick)

BH — Frattarola 6 run (Sbuttoni kick)

BH — Frattarola 1 run (Sbuttoni kick)

BH — Mareno 5 pass from Manning (Sbuttoni kick)

BH — Swisher 26 run (Sbuttoni kick)

N — Robinson 33 pass from Quinn (Harvey kick)

Categories: High School Sports, Sports

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