BETHLEHEM -- Ballston Spa football coach Ray Toohey thought he could sense a breakthrough coming that never arrived.
His Scotties had scored a touchdown late in the second quarter and successfully defended a series of Bethlehem passes just before the break in Friday's night's Class AA crossover game.
Though trailing 12-7, Ballston Spa had the momentum -- but could not keep it over the final two quarters in a 22-7 loss, its second setback in as many weeks.
"We've got to get better at harnessing the momentum," Toohey said.
Cameron Scoons kicked a 37-yard field goal in the third quarter to push Bethlhem's advantage to 15-7, and lineman-turned-fullback Kendell Harris raced 26 yards for a clinching fourth-quarter touchdown, as the Eagles secured their first victory of the season.
"We've got to get some big plays," Ballston Spa running back Jason McCarthy said. "Maybe a big pass play. Maybe something on special teams. It didn't click tonight."
Bethlehem's defense certainly did in the second half, and did not allow Ballston Spa to get further than the Eagles' 37-yard line. That series ended on an incomplete fourth-quarter pass by quarterback Keegan Zoller, who was under fire just about every time he dropped back.
"Our defense is good," Bethlehem coach Rick Leach said. "It keeps us in games. We were zero-zero at the half with Shaker last week." (The Eagles lost 24-7.)
Ballston Spa was within 12-7 Friday night after Zach Washington's one-yard touchdown run and McCarthy's extra point. Washington caught a 14-yard pass and ran for 11 yards just before his touchdown surge.
Then Ballston Spa's defense stepped up to close the opening half.
"We felt we had the momentum going into halftime," Toohey said. "We had some things clicking. It was one of those things. We've got to get some consistency."
Both the Scotties (1-1 Empire Division, 1-2 overall) and the Eagles (0-2 Liberty Division, 1-2 overall) were looking for a step-building win before heading back into division play.
"Getting that first win is always hard," Leach said. "It's good to get the monkey off our back. I told my guys for 24 hours just be happy. Sunday we'll start to get ready for the No. 1 team in the state [Troy]."
Ballston Spa has Guilderland next, and then Saratoga Springs.
"The good things is it wasn't a division game," McCarthy said after a 17-carry, 64-yard rushing effort. "Hopefully we can get the next one and pick it up from there."
"Next week is big for us," Toohey said.
Bethlehem scored a touchdown on its opening drive when Ethan Sheraw ran 13 yards to the end zone, and the Eagles picked up two points later in the quarter on a safety after a Ballston Spa center snap sailed high and out of the end zone. Scoons' 30-yard field goal in the second quarter made it 12-0, and Ballston Spa answered on its ensuing drive.
Bethlehem went nearly eight minutes on a drive to begin the third quarter, that march ending on a missed Scoons' field goal try of 37 yards. He made good on another shot from that distance later in the quarter.
Bethlehem running back Alex Shudt had runs of 13 and 12 yards as a lead-up to Harris' clinching touchdown with 4:16 left. Bethlehem's Tyson Fagerland had two sacks to help quell Ballston Spa's follow-up drive.
"The last touchdown was a back breaker," Toohey said. "Credit Bethlehem. They kept their foot on the pedal."
Shudt ran 20 times for 114 yards in what was Bethlehem's sixth straight win over Ballston Spa.
"We're happy to get that first win," Leach said. "Ballston Spa had me worried. They're young, but they play hard. I think he [Toohey] is building something over there."
Ballston Spa 0 7 0 0 - 7
Bethlehem 9 3 3 7 - 22
BC - Sheraw 13 run (Scoons kick)
BC - Safety
BC - Scoons 30 FG
BSpa - Washington 1 run (McCarthy kick)
BC - Scoons 37 FG
BC - Harris 26 run (Scoons kick)