By Tyler Charnik and Jared Nightingale
The Saratoga Blue Streaks suffered a loss to the undefeated Shaker Blue Bison on November 2, 2018 at the University of Albany in the Section II AA Championship game.
Both teams were aware of how significant the game was, but they needed to treat it the same as any other. “We knew the stakes, but in our minds it was just another game that we had to go out and win,” Saratoga senior Chris Klimek said after playing his final game.
The Blue Streak offense scored on their opening drive with a rushing touchdown from junior quarterback Jake Williams, putting the Streaks up 7-0 early. The Saratoga defense forced a punt on Shaker’s opening drive in the first quarter. Saratoga’s opening touchdown was the only score in the first quarter.
The Blue Bison started the second quarter with the ball and appeared to score a touchdown halfway through the quarter, but the score was called back due to an illegal shift penalty against Shaker. Senior Logan Souza rushed for a touchdown on the next play to tie the game 7-7, with 6:31 left in the first half.
Saratoga quickly responded to Shaker’s touchdown on their next drive with an Ashton Capone 58-yard rushing touchdown. The score stood at 14-7 with 6:16 left in the second quarter.
The Blue Bison’s next drive also resulted in a touchdown. Senior quarterback Connor Mchugh pass to Ravion Burt, to tie the game at fourteen.
Saratoga received the ball with forty-four seconds left in the first half after Shaker scored and ran out the clock.
Shaker received the second half kickoff, but the Blue Streak defense forced a turnover within the ten-yard line. Saratoga was forced to punt after a defensive hold by the Blue Bison, but ultimately a flag was thrown for excess Shaker players on the field. The possession resulted in a punt with 4:28 left in the third.
Neither team managed to score in the third quarter due to the opposition’s defensive efforts. Shaker opened the fourth quarter with a 60-yard touchdown from senior running back Logan Souza, taking a 21-14 lead.
Souza said, “It was a normal play to the left, but I bounced off a defender and just saw green and took it.”
Saratoga ran the ball down into the red zone on their next possession, but Williams threw an interception that was returned for a touchdown by Shaker senior Shane Lavender, increasing their lead to two scores. Lavender said the only thing going through his mind was to not get caught while en route to the pick six.
The Blue Streak offense did not respond to either of Shaker’s second half touchdowns due to the lockdown Shaker defense.
Although it rained the entirety of the game, Saratoga’s play calling was not influenced. Coach Jones said he wasn’t going to not call a pass play just due to the weather.
The Saratoga Blue Streaks finished the 2018 season with a record of 7-3.