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Saratoga steals Bethlehem's night under the lights

The Bethlehem community gave its varsity football team an opportunity to shine under the lights.

Saratoga Springs literally took that opportunity away from the Eagles.

The Blue Streaks (3-2 division, 3-3 overall) forced five Bethlehem turnovers and capitalized on three of them on their way to a 42-13 victory in Friday's Empire Division game.

\This is probably the best game we've played start to finish this year, said Saratoga coach Terry Jones.

Both teams came into Friday's game looking to get a leg up on the fourth and final playoff spot in the seven-team Empire Division, but the combination of Bethlehem's turnovers and a superior Saratoga rushing attack (more than 300 yards on the ground) sent the Eagles (2-3, 2-4) reeling into the final week of the regular season.

"We just made too many mistakes to stay in the game," said Bethlehem coach Rick Leach.

Bethlehem's mood entering the game was energetic as the community pitched in to give the seniors a chance to play under the lights. The booster club raised the money needed to cover the electricty costs, and several National Grid workers volunteered their time to fix the lights.

"We have great kids, and the reason why we have great kids is because we have great parents here," said Leach. "They were willing to put up the money so we could have the lights turned on for us."

Saratoga dimmed that energy a bit on its first play from scrimmage. Tailback Jaime Perez took the handoff from Luke Fauler, found a hole up the middle and took off on a 74-yard touchdown run that gave the Blue Streaks a quick 7-0 lead.

"It was a great run by Jaime," said Jones. "We hadn't seen a run like that by any of our running backs this season."

Bethlehem drove into Saratoga's territory on its first possession, but a potential first-down run by Zach Garcia on a fourth-down play was called back on a blocking below the waist penalty. That forced the Eagles to punt the ball to Saratoga.

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