Burnt Hills

Stout defense, Pitcher’s 2 TD runs lead CBA football past Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake in clash of defending Section II champs

Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake's Jake Pausley grabs the ankle of CBA quarterback Donald Jones with team mate Shane McClernan Friday, September 9, 2022.
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Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake's Jake Pausley grabs the ankle of CBA quarterback Donald Jones with team mate Shane McClernan Friday, September 9, 2022.

BURNT HILLS — What started out looking like it would be a runaway win for Christian Brothers Academy had long since turned into a drawn-out, defense-first slog between the Brothers and Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake.

One bad snap very quickly made things a lot more comfortable for CBA.

With the Brothers leading Friday’s non-classification football clash between the defending Section II Class AA and A champions by eight points midway through the fourth quarter, Burnt Hills lined up to punt from its own 45-yard line.

The snap rocketed over the head of punter Myles Yannuzzi, and the ensuing scramble for the loose ball resulted with the ball tumbling through the back of the Burnt Hills end zone for a safety. Jahmir Pitcher returned the resulting free kick into Burnt Hills territory, which set up his second touchdown run of the game four plays later, sealing CBA’s 23-6 win.

“It changed the swing of things a lot,” Pitcher said. “The guys on our side were really passionate, and once we made that play it just turned the tide completely. Guys got after it even more.”

CBA (2-0) looked in the first quarter to be well on its way to a repeat of its 55-0 pasting of rival La Salle Institute a week earlier. 

A surgical opening drive ended with a 25-yard Pitcher touchdown run with 5:15 left in the first quarter, then just 57 seconds later it was 14-0 when CBA cornerback Sam Smith intercepted a Yannuzzi pass and raced 39 yards to the end zone.

“The best feeling in the world,” Smith said. “That was my first varsity pick, and there’s no better feeling than that.” 

But the Burnt Hills (0-1) defense tightened up, keeping the Brothers out of the end zone until Pitcher’s second score of the evening late in the fourth quarter.

The Spartans struggled to get their offense going for much of the night, and were held without a first down until back-to-back 9-yard runs from Luke Zoller and Santino Mareno finally moved the chains with 5:51 left in the second quarter. Until a 12-yard run from Mareno on the penultimate play of the third quarter, Burnt Hills’ longest offensive play was a 10-yard pass from Yannuzzi that was swatted by a CBA defensive lineman into the hands of Spartans center Shane McClernan, who alertly made the catch.

The Spartans’ only score of the night came when they turned a short field into a 7-yard Zoller touchdown run that made it 14-6 with 3:25 left in the first half.

“We needed a big run, or something, but yards are hard to come by against that defense,” Spartans coach Matt Shell said. “You’re trying to find places where you might be able to go here and there, but they’re very talented.”

CBA’s defense, despite losing star defensive end and Syracuse commit David Clement for the year to a knee injury before the season started, bottled up the Burnt Hills offense. 

CBA held Burnt Hills to just 44 yards of total offense, and ignoring the 45 yards lost on the botched punt snap that led to the safety, the Spartans still managed to gain just 89 yards.

“That’s where I cut my teeth. That’s where we take pride in it,” CBA coach Bobby Burns said. “As much as our offense is kind of special at times, we’re going to win football games with defense. That’s been my goal since I started being a head coach, and it always has been.”

Pitcher rushed for 73 yards and a pair of touchdowns on 15 carries for CBA, and quarterback Donald Jones carried 13 times for 79 yards. As a passer, Jones was 4 of 8 for 45 yards and a pair of interceptions.

“Every snap was big,” Pitcher said. “It was [about] having the passion to get after the ball.”

CBA 14 0 0 9 — 23

Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake 0 6 0 0 — 6

CBA — Pitcher 25 run (Leto kick)

CBA — Smith 39 interception return (Leto kick)

BH-BL — Zoller 7 run (kick failed)

CBA — Safety

CBA — Pitcher 6 run (Leto kick)

Categories: High School Football, High School Sports, Sports, Sports

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