By: Aidan Joly
A late game drive for Saratoga following a touchdown came up just short and clinched Ballston Spa a playoff berth.
The Ballston Spa Scotties defeated the Saratoga Blue Streaks on Friday night at Ballston Spa High School in a defensive thriller by a score of 13-6.
Getting the ball with 7:55 to play after an interception by Vincent Miczek, which was his second of the game, Ballston Spa knew what they had to do. They needed to score to clinch a bid into the Section 2 playoffs. With the game tied at six, quarterback Christian Leva led the team on a 15-play, 47-yard drive that lasted six minutes. The Scotties got to the two yard line with three minutes to play, but they would be held back by Saratoga’s defensive line. Finally, on fourth down, Leva ran a keeper and shoved his way into the end zone, making it 13-6 with 1:16 to play in the regular season finale for both teams.
“That was supposed to be a pitchout to Eli (Washington). I saw it, I took it, I made enough so everyone’s happy, but I’m just happy we got in,” Leva said of that play.
Ballston Spa first-year head coach Ray Toohey added, “Very proud of our kids, anytime the kids rise up to an occasion like that, it means a lot.”
However, on the next drive, Saratoga was not to be undone. They started at their own 30-yard line with 1:14 to play. They got a series of quick pass plays going into the closing seconds of the game and were able to push the ball up to the Ballston Spa seven-yard line with 13 seconds remaining in the contest. They took three shots at the end zone with the final two being the closest. On the second-to-last play, the ball tipped off of Saratoga wide receiver Connor Sullivan before hitting the ground. Finally, on the last play of the game, the ball was passed to Darius Wicks, but he was defended very aggressively, ending the game on a controversial no-call for what Saratoga believed was pass interference. The game ended on that play with a 13-6 final score.
Before this, the contest started slow. The Scotties picked up the first lead on a one-yard rushing touchdown by Jason McCarthy late in the first quarter to make it 6-0 Ballston Spa. The score would remain through halftime and into the second half. The game was tied up with 6:14 to play in the third quarter on a 14-yard quarterback keeper run from Jack Cairns into the house for six. The game stayed tied until the game-winning touchdown run from Leva with less than 90 seconds on the clock.
Cold weather also proved to be a deciding factor. There were three fumbles in the game, all coming in the second half. Leva said that weather played a role in that, as the temperature got into the low 40s during the second half.
With the win, Ballston Spa finishes the regular season at 3-4, and they clinched a bid into the Section 2 playoffs with the victory in the final regular season game as well. They will likely be facing Troy in the first round, as seeding does not officially come out until following the committee meeting, which is set to be held on Sunday morning.
Saratoga finishes out their season with a 1-6 record, coming off their stellar 2015 season when they were state finalists. They finish second-to-last in the Section, ahead of winless Niskayuna. They will play an exhibition game next week with another team that didn’t make the playoffs, and it is not yet known who that team will be.