Victorious 19-14 Over Shaker With Key Defensive Stops
CLIFTON PARK – In every game, there are those key moments that provide the margin of victory for the teams who can capitalize on their opportunities.
Nowhere was this clearer than in the Class AA title game last Friday, November 6, in which two unbeaten, 9-0 squads – Saratoga Springs’ Blue Streaks and Shaker’s Blue Bison, faced each other for the first time this season in a showdown at Shenendehowa High School. Saratoga emerged with the win, 19-14, in large part because they both created chances and exploited those openings that were presented to them.
The first opportunity came after the initial score by Shaker, a 26 yard run by RB Ronel Forde, more than midway in the first quarter. Saratoga immediately countered with a vengeance - with the ‘answer’ they had all season – Dakota Harvey. On the first play from scrimmage following Shaker’s TD, RB Harvey rumbled for a 75-yard TD that included more than a few changes of direction to elude every member of Shaker’s defense.
Toward the end of the first quarter, QB Brian Williams made Shaker squander an opportunity to stop Saratoga as he scrambled for a first down on a third-and-19. Harvey followed that with a 15- yard run to give Saratoga it’s first lead, 13-7. After Shaker answered to retake the lead, 14-13, on a one-yard run from their QB Wahid Nabi, and looked to be driving for more, Saratoga created the first of several defensive opportunities – when Zack Regels recovered a fumble with 4:40 left in the first half, and this keyed a 10-yard run by Williams to give Saratoga back the lead before halftime, 19-14.
This was to be the final score of the game, but it was by no means certain throughout the second half, as the Blue Streaks’ defense needed to rise up to frustrate Shaker on several occasions.
A key moment in the contest came on Shaker’s first drive of the third quarter, when Brian Williams (now on defense) stripped the ball from Forde, who appeared to be heading for the end zone. Saratoga’s DB Zach Frank pounced on the fumble, and Shaker lost its best chance to regain the lead. LB Eric Stone snuffed out another Shaker drive in the fourth quarter with a timely interception.
By making the most of the opportunities it created and were presented, Saratoga Springs (10-0) captured its first Section II Class AA title since 2009, and now has the biggest opportunity of all – to advance. They will receive a bye in the first round of the State semi-finals, and will meet the winner of the game between the winners of Sections I and IX, on Saturday, November 21, at Dietz Stadium in Kingston.