BY SAM CAPUANO
Over the past few years, anyone going to a Ballston Spa vs. Saratoga Springs football game knows they will be entertained. The Battle Of Route 50 has become one of the best rivalries in Section II, and last week’s thriller at Saratoga was no exception as the Scotties held on for a 34-29 win, which was not settled until the game’s final play.
A see-saw final quarter, which saw three lead changes, almost had a fourth, as Saratoga’s Jesse Spencer with one second remaining, on a hook and lateral from midfield, raced down the sideline and it appeared for a heart-stopping moment he might score. It was only when Ballston’s Jordan Davis and R.J. Borgolini pushed him out of bounds at the 7-yard line that the Scotties could exhale, and claim the victory.
“We knew they might try the hook and lateral, so it was in the back of our minds as we defensed the last play,” said John Bowen, Ballston’s head coach.
Davis was the offensive star of the night for the Scotties, as he ran for 270 yards, and caught two passes for 51 more, to go along with making the defensive play as time expired.
“We came out hard in the second half,” said Davis. “It wasn’t just me, the blockers did a great job tonight.”
Spencer’s effort for the home team was almost as impressive, as he rushed for 151 yards, including three touchdowns, to go along with the 43-yards on the aforementioned hook and lateral as the game ended.
The game was well played on both sides, with very few penalties. This contrasted greatly to the Scotties last visit to West Avenue two years ago. In that contest, they hurt themselves greatly with countless false start penalties, and lost their only regular season game.
“We have worked very hard to get more discipline,” Bowen said.
Davis started the scoring for the night on the first play of the second quarter, cashing it in from the three. He also set up the winning score by taking a pitch and breaking off a 53 yard run. Saratoga blocked the extra point attempt.
The teams then traded touchdowns, and the Scotties took a 13-7 lead into the intermission.
Saratoga came out strong in the second half with a pair of touchdowns, due to the running of Spencer, and helped by a fumble from Ballston quarterback John DeGuardi.
Down 21-13, the Scotties got back into the game on the first play following the second Saratoga touchdown, courtesy of an electrifying 63-yard scoring run from Davis. Then, in the fourth, he did it one better, with a 64-yard score. After a successful two point conversion, Ballston had their biggest lead of the game, 28-21, with just under five minutes to play.
Undeterred, the Streaks drove right back down the field, and Spencer’s six yard touchdown, followed by a two point conversion, gave them the lead.
Ballston ran the ensuing kickoff back to their own 35, and had 2:29 left, with no timeouts. No matter, as the combination of some more nice running from Davis, and passing from DeGuardi moved the ball to the 12 with 26 seconds remaining. DeGuardi ran it in from there.
This set up Saratoga’s valiant attempt to win the game at the end, which left players from both teams laying on the ground.
“You can throw away records when these two teams play,” Bowen said. “Saratoga is a lot better than their record.”
The Scotties’ win, combined with Shenendehowa’s shutout over Christian Boys Academy last Saturday gives Ballston the potential for the number two seed in the Empire Division. Ballston and CBA square off next Friday for the Scotties’ Homecoming game. Each team has lost only once, to Shen.
“We expect much of the same from CBA, with their power running,” said Bowen.