BALLSTON SPA, N.Y. – The Queensbury football squad had its own version of thunder and lightning Friday night to open the 2019 Section II football season with junior running back Jason Rodriquez darting sideline to sideline and when needed, senior fullback James Ward provided the thunder, rumbling 19 yards and dragging a few Ballston Spa defenders with him into the end zone to secure a 10-6 win on the road.
“They were really trying to focus on stopping our outside runs, obviously last year we had a huge year running with Liam (O'Mara) and B. (Brendan) Scott,” Queensbury fullback James Ward said. “On the outside they were really pounding us so Coach made an adjustment to try to go to the inside and our offensive line did a great job and it was open.”
Queensbury was looking to capitalize on any opportunity it could seize after Alex Roca’s 29-yard field goal in the second quarter and the Scotties knocking on the door throughout the second half.
Junior running back Joe Slattery scampered 14 yards on the first Queensbury possession of the fourth quarter before quarterback Nate Angell pulled the ball down on a keeper and scampered 43 yards deep into Ballston Spa territory.
“The guard kicks out for him and he pulls up and takes it,” Queensbury Coach Matt Crossman said. “It's one that's set up (late in the game).”
Two plays later Angell handed the ball off to the 5-foot 10-inch 185-pound fullback who burst through the line and was slowed, but not stopped by several Scotties defenders, but still managed to stagger to and over the goal line for the commanding 10-0 lead.
“My offensive line set up a huge hole for me,” Queensbury fullback James Ward said. “They're obviously a real young group and for them to come out and give me that big of a hole was fantastic. I saw the goal line, just put my head down and tried to get there.
Despite the 10-point deficit it became the Scotties time to respond.
With 3:27 left in the contest, three-year varsity quarterback Keegan Zoller took matters into his own hands, breaking away on two separate occasions for 12- and 14-yard scurries. He also found senior halfback Aidan Thomas for a 19-yard gain and senior wide receiver Tyler Beverly for a 13-yard strike to keep the Ballston Spa sidelines involved.
After two consecutive sacks for small yardage Zoller hit Thomas for 27-yard touchdown strike with 26 seconds left in the contest, cutting the Queensbury lead to 10-6.
With the extra point missed followed by the onside kick bouncing out of bounds, the Spartans were able to take a knee to seal the opening night win.
“It's week one, both teams had a lot of young players but I think both teams battled pretty well,” Crossman said. “Hats off to Ballston Spa, they were a really tough team, a physical team.”
Ballston Spa head coach Jason Ohnsman will have to find a way to record a moral victory for his first time on the sidelines as the top dog in the Scotties football program.
“We didn't execute a couple times when we had them up against the wall, a fumble or two that recovered where we maybe got some momentum back and could have gotten something going, but we have to execute,” Ohnsman said. “We can't have a great play and then an O.K. play and a great play and an O.K. play and then another O.K. play. We have to keep that ball moving forward.”