Queensbury put a drive together when it mattered most, and unlocked Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake’s long hold on the Super Bowl trophy.
Kody Bruno finished off a length-of-the field march by diving into the end zone with just over a minute left, and Queensbury rallied for a 14-7 Section II Class A victory Saturday night at Brent Steuerwald Stadium.
Bruno’s touchdown ended an eight-play, 81-yard sequence, and was the first allowed by the Burnt Hills defenders in a gritty bid to keep the title.
“We had a chip on our shoulder. We were 9-0, and people were looking at us as the underdog,” said Bruno, who led the state’s
No. 2-ranked team with 102 rushing yards on 22 carries. “We knew it was going to be tough to beat them again, but we just got in our minds that we were going to win. We never gave up.”
Queensbury (10-0) had held off Burnt Hills (8-2) in September, 28-27, when a late extra-point attempt by John Clayton hit the upright. Clayton’s extra point Saturday after Danny Maynard’s third-quarter touchdown run had given BH-BL a 7-6 lead, and a final stop would have made it stand up and kept the Spartans’ hopes alive for another state championship.
“I feel real bad for them. I know how much they put into this season,” said Burnt Hills coach Matt Shell. “We couldn’t get over the last hurdle.”
Burnt Hills had done so in winning the five previous Super Bowls, and six of the last seven. The Spartans would have set a Section II record for consecutive championships had they held on.
“Credit their kids on how hard they played,” said Shell. “Our kids played hard, too. I thought both defenses were great.”
Burnt Hills had made stop after stop until Queensbury drove the field as time ticked away, and Bruno took care of the last 21 yards after juking a pair of defenders at the 10.
Defensive end Christopher Johnson had scored Queensbury’s first touchdown when he scooped up a fumble and rumbled 83 yards on the opening play of the second quarter.
“We’ve got a very confident group,” said Quensbury coach John Irion, who guided the Spartans to their last area flag in 1998. “It wasn’t, ‘Are we going to beat them?’ In their minds, it was how are we going to beat them?”
Queensbury’s last drive began with 4:34 left, and included a 21-yard gain by Tim Voorhis, a 19-yard run by Kalen Minott and a 14-yard effort by Brett Rodriguez on the play just before Bruno’s touchdown sprint.
“We usually don’t get those chunks of yardage,” said Irion. “They came at the right time.”
Following Bruno’s touchdown, an option pass from Rodriguez to Voorhis made it 14-7 with 1:18 remaining, and Burnt Hills’ final possession ended with four straight incompletions by Clayton.
“Before the play started, I looked at the end zone to see how far away it was,” said Bruno, a senior. “I wanted it.”
Burnt Hills picked up a first down, but was forced to punt soon after from its 47 before Queensbury’s scoring drive.
“If we could have gotten another first down and maybe another, we wouldn’t have put our defense in such a bind,” said Shell. “We needed first downs.”
Burnt Hills was in position to strike first, looking at a first-and-10 from the Queensbury 11, when Maynard and Clayton failed to connect on a handoff. Johnson scooped the ball up and ran for his touchdown before Rodriguez was halted on a two-point conversion try by David Nusbaum.
“It was just a read-option play. I don’t know, it was just a miscue between John and I, and the ball’s on the ground,” said Maynard. “The kid made a great play and scored. He had blockers in front of him.”
Maynard scored on a 26-yard run, with Tyler Dowdle catching a 24-yard pass and Josh Quesada snaring a 17-yarder to help set it up. Maynard dropped the ball at the one and picked it up before gaining the end zone.
A blocked punt by BH-BL’s Paul Krowel came shortly after the TD, but the Spartans stalled at the Queensbury 26.
“We didn’t cash in a couple of times earlier in the game. We had some opportunities,” said Shell. “That was tough.”
Maynard finished with 97 rushing yards on 21 carries, Quesada ran for 50 yards on 13 attempts and caught three passes for 40 yards, and BH-BL’s Matt Sterlina intercepted a pass. Erik Wettersten picked off a pass off for Queensbury.
Queensbury, which had scored at least 28 points in each of its previous nine games, will return to Shenendehowa next Saturday night for a regional game with Massena.
“They kept changing up their front line,” Bruno said of BH-BL’s defense. “They made things tough on us.”
Burnt Hills last lost in the Section II tournament in the 2007 Class A final against Lansingburgh. Burnt Hills brought a 17-game sectional win streak into Saturday’s contest.
Queensbury 0 6 0 8 — 14
BH-BL 0 0 7 0 — 7
Q — Johnson 83 fumble return (run failed).
BH — Maynard 26 run (Clayton kick).
Q — Bruno 21 run (Voorhis pass from Rodriguez).