Behind a big-play offense that was missing a week ago, Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake took down a fellow Section II football heavyweight Friday night.
“Our line played great. They were awsome,” Spartans running back Dan Porter said after a 37-0 non-league victory over Schalmont. “Without them, nothing would have happened.”
The Spartans made a lot of good things happen in a game nothing like last Friday, when the four-time reigning Section II Class A champions scored only a late touchdown in a 17-7 loss at Troy. The regular- season defeat was just their second in 41 games.
“It happens. Teams lose games. You have to come back the following week and have a short memory,” said Burnt Hills coach Matt Shell. “We played good football on offense, defense and special teams. In all of three phases, we played well.”
Burnt Hills scored on three straight possessions in the first half to go up, 17-0, and added on against the three-time defending Section II Class B titlists with their big, mobile line and cast of skill players. Schalmont saw its winning streak against area teams halted at 29 games.
“They dominated the line of scrimmage, bottom line. That’s where you win games,” said Schalmont coach Joe Whipple, whose team’s last Section II loss came against Lansingburgh in the second week of the 2009 season. “We’ve been on the other side of that.”
Porter ran for 139 yards and a touchdown on 15 carries, Vince Dowdle ran for 107 yards and a touchdown on 10 attempts, and quarterback Ryan McDonnell added two touchdowns and a field goal as Burnt Hills avoided consecutive losses in the same season for the first time since 2005.
“We got into a better offensive rhythm,” Shell said. “We thought our kids were good enough to do that.”
Tight end Dan Nuzzi and the line group of Roswell Warren, Shane Fisher, Nick Fragale, Shayne Briaddy and Nick Marchesiello excelled as Burnt Hills amassed 349 rushing yards on 46 carries. Dan Maynard added 89 yards on five cracks from the scrimmage line.
“You get four, five yards or more, it sets your offense up,” said Shell. “Third-and-long is tough in this game. Fortunately, we were not in a lot of those situations.”
Burnt Hills grinded out steady yardage and hit the big play in what it hopes was the start of another lengthy winning streak. Burnt Hills followed a Week 2 loss at Amsterdam last year with 10 consecutive victories and landed in the state title final for the third time.
“We have the guys to do it,” said Porter, who had a one-yard touchdown run in the first quarter to begin the scoring. “I think we can get something going.”
“It’s time to get on a roll,” said McDonnell, who was 5-for-8 passing for 71 yards. “Beating a great team like Schalmont after a loss to Troy is great for us. We have confidence, but we still have a lot of stuff to work on.”
Porter had a 23-yard run and McDonnell hit Ben Roberts with a 34-yard pass before Porter’s touchdown. In the second frame, a 42-yard burst by Dowdle set up McDonnell’s 30-yard field goal, and runs by Porter covering 16 and 22 yards led to a three-yard touchdown surge by Dowdle.
“You do the fundimentals right, and big plays happen,” said McDonnell. “It all starts with the little things, and you build on them.”
McDonnell scored on a six-yard run in the third quarter and on a one-yard sneak in the fourth, that touchdown set up on runs of 15 and 20 yards by Dowdle. Joe Butler added a one-yard TD run after Shawn Primett’s fumble recovery.
Jack Maher also recovered a fumble as part of BH-BL’s shutout, and Ryan Manning intercepted a pass in the end zone. Star Schalmont junior Devon Willis managed 51 rushing yards after piling up a school-record 352 with four TDs in last week’s 41-16 win over Glens Falls.
Willis returned a punt 51 yards, Chas Higins returned the second-half kickoff 40 yards, and backup quarterback Dalton Cooke hit Higgins with a 37-yard pass for Schalmont’s biggest plays.
Schalmont 0 0 0 0 — 0
Burnt Hills 7 10 7 13 — 37
B — Porter 1 run (McDonnell kick).
B — McDonnell 30 field goal.
B — Dowdle 3 run (McDonnell kick).
B — McDonnell 6 run (McDonnell kick).
B — McDonnell 1 run (McDonnell kick).
B — Butler 1 run (kick failed).