Ryan McDonnell ran for a touchdown, passed for another, kicked three extra points and boomed three kickoffs into the end zone for touchbacks, all before Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake’s homecoming game with Gloversville was a quarter old.
“That was a lot better than last year’s homecoming. We beat Queensbury in a battle. We won by a touchdown,” said the Spartans’ senior quarterback. “No question it was going to be a good day after the way we started.”
Burnt Hills has had four good ones in a row now, with Dan Porter running for four touchdowns and the host team forcing three turnovers in Saturday’s 54-7 Class A Northwest Division victory over the Huskies.
Porter carried six times for 156 yards on a field thick with mud, Dan Maynard and Joe Butler added tack-on touchdowns and Eric Dillon had an interception and blocked a punt for the four-time defending Section II Class A champions (3-0, 4-1).
“Every week, we’re getting better, especially from week one,” said McDonnell. “Sometimes, you have to lose one, take a step back, to move forward.”
Since dropping its season-opening Class A crossover game at Troy, 17-7, Burnt Hills has beaten reigning Section II Class B champ Schalmont (37-0) and division foes South Glens Falls (62-0), Queensbury (49-14) and Gloversville. The Spartans raced to a 34-0 halftime lead in Saturday’s game that ended with coach Matt Shell’s 90th win, and 11th against his alma mater without a defeat.
“It’s there every week,” McDonnell said of the setback against Troy. “We can’t forget it happened, but it’s not something we think about when we’re playing. We’re focused on the team that’s on the other side of the field.”
Burnt Hills played in Gloversville’s end the entire first quarter, and started its offensive barrage when McDonnell capped a seven-play, 45-yard drive with an eight-yard scoring run. Mike Danz’s interception and 20-yard return set up a nine-yard touchdown pass from McDonnell to Maynard, and Dillon’s blocked punt set up a six-yard TD run by Porter.
“If you force a team to punt, it’s a good thing, but it doesn’t swing momentum,” said Shell. “If you force the issue and make the other team make errors in their end, it’s a momentum changer.”
“When you start in their territory like that, it’s a gift,” said McDonnell.
Porter scored second-quarter touchdowns on runs of 88 and 29 yards, and Dillon’s interception set up a 19-yard, third-quarter TD sprint by the BH-BL junior back.
“Our line was awesome,” said Porter. “I didn’t get touched at all.”
Burnt Hills amassed 362 rushing yards, with Maynard getting 63 and Butler picking up 45 on their touchdown bursts.
“Our guys up front got into their blocks and sustained them,” said Shell. “I thought both of our lines played very well.”
Paul Krowel recorded two sacks for the state’s No. 9-ranked team, Nate Sawyer and Nick Marchesiello both had one, and David Newell recovered a fumble and was in on a team-high eight tackles. The Spartans limited the Huskies (0-2, 1-4) to 35 rushing yards, and junior quarterback Asa Barnhill hit 11 of 23 passes covering 122 yards.
“I thought our defense was very aggressive. On a slow field, they played fast,” said McDonnell. “They were physical and fast. Just good, solid football.”
Gloversville got its only touchdown on an 85-yard kickoff return by Mike Murray with 1:18 left.
“They’re a great football team,” said Gloversville coach Jared Bongo. “They’ve got one guy going both ways, and we have 10 going both ways. They’ve got numbers, personnel and quality.”
Burnt Hills can clinch the Northwest title and earn its No. 1 playoff seed with a win at Amsterdam (2-0, 3-2) next Saturday. Amsterdam dealt Burnt Hills its only regular-season loss in 2011, and the Spartans later beat the Rugged Rams in the Class A Super Bowl on their way to the state final.
“Next week is a huge game,” said Shell. “We have to make sure we have a good week of practice like we did this week. We’re getting better in all parts, and we have to get better before next week.”
Gloversville has upcoming division games with South Glens Falls and Queensbury.
“We started 1-4 last year and finished 5-4. We’re looking for another good finish,” said Bongo. “If we can beat those teams, we can still get the No. 3 [division] seed. We’ve got stuff to play for.”
Gloversville 0 0 0 7 — 7
BH-BL 21 13 14 6 — 54
BH-BL — McDonnell 8 run (McDonnell kick).
BH-BL — Maynard 9 pass from McDonnell (McDonnell kick).
BH-BL — Porter 6 run (McDonnell kick).
BH-BL — Porter 88 run (McDonnell kick).
BH-BL — Porter 29 run (pass failed).
BH-BL — Porter 19 run (McDonnell kick).
BH-BL — Maynard 63 run (McDonnell kick).
BH-BL — Butler 45 run (kick blocked).
G — Murray 85 kickoff return (Vandenabeele kick).