One Saratoga County football team is going to Syracuse for the state finals, while another can only wonder about what might have been.
Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake punched a return ticket to the Carrier Dome last Friday with a 41-16 victory over Section IX's Cornwall in the Class A state semifinals, while Saratoga couldn't hang on to a 14-7 lead in a 28-21 loss to Section I champion New Rochelle in last Saturday's Class AA semi at Kingston's Dietz Stadium.
The Spartans (12-0) jumped out to a 21-3 halftime lead, and they never looked back in earning a rematch with Section VI champion Sweet Home in this weekend's Class A state final. Sweet Home beat BH-BL 35-28 in last year's state title game.
Evan Nusbaum had a big game for the Spartans. The junior tailback rushed for more than 300 yards and three touchdowns, made five of his six extra point kicks and intercepted a pass near BH-BL's goal line. The interception set up Nusbaum's 96-yard touchdown run that gave the Spartans their 18-point halftime lead.
Brandon Beatty contributed a pair of touchdown runs, and Jack Guba added a scoring run for the Spartans. Tyler Lawlor led Cornwall with a pair of touchdowns.
Saratoga (9-2) had a one-touchdown lead on the state's No. 1-ranked Class AA team entering the fourth quarter before New Rochelle (12-0) got going. Julian Griffin found a seam in the middle of Saratoga's defense and raced 61 yards for the tying touchdown early in the period.
The score stayed tied until New Rochelle intercepted Saratoga quarterback Luke Fauler in Blue Streaks' territory. The Hugonauts drove down the field, and quarterback Lewis Edney finished the series with a 1-yard touchdown run to give New Rochelle its first lead.
Another Hugonaut interception led to what proved to be the game-winning touchdown. Griffin found another seam and raced 25 yards to give New Rochelle a 28-14 lead late in the fourth quarter. Saratoga countered with a 24-yard touchdown pass from Fauler to Joey Moore in the final seconds, but it wasn't enough to overcome the deficit.
Fauler contributed a 10-yard scoring run and a 15-yard touchdown strike to J.B. Noonan in the first half to give Saratoga a 14-0 lead. Griffin caught a 43-yard touchdown pass from Edney off a ricochet in the end zone with 23 seconds left in the second quarter to get New Rochelle on the scoreboard.