Saratoga County football teams struggled in last weekend's opening round of the Section II, Class AA playoffs.
While Empire Division champion Saratoga Springs handled Columbia 40-21 last Friday, Shenendehowa and Ballston Spa lost their quarterfinal games. Niskayuna came to Clifton Park and dispatched Shen 34-28, and Ballston Spa fell to Liberty Division champion Schenectady 27-21.
Saratoga (7-1) broke open a close game with three consecutive touchdowns between the second and third quarters. Fullback Tony DeLoatch started the streak with a two-yard scoring run late in the second quarter. Quarterback Collin Mulholland opened the third quarter with a 26-yard touchdown pass to Joe Scully, and DeLoatch added his second scoring run to give the Blue Streaks a commanding 33-6 lead.
Columbia (3-5) cut into the deficit by scoring the first points of the fourth quarter, but Leejay Pollacchi answered by taking a short pass from Mulholland and turning it into a 66-yard touchdown play to seal the victory.
Pollacchi and DeLoatch combined for 155 rushing yards and scored four of Saratoga's six touchdowns as the Blue Streaks advanced to Friday's Class AA semifinals against LaSalle, which defeated Bethlehem 40-14.
Shenendehowa (5-3) hoped to join Saratoga in the semifinals, but it couldn't handle Niskayuna quarterback Danny Peters in a 34-28 loss. Peters threw for 248 yards and three touchdowns, and he rushed for 174 yards and a pair of touchdowns to lead the Silver Warriors (6-2) into Friday's semifinal at Schenectady.
Shen and Niskayuna traded touchdowns for the first three quarters. Peters threw scoring strikes of 13, 17 and 16 yards to Kadeem Miller, but Shen's ground game answered with three touchdowns of its own. Bronson Greene had scoring runs of 33 and six yards in the stretch, and Suhayb Banks playing on an injured ankle added a four-yard touchdown scamper for the Plainsmen.