QUEENSBURY — Jason Rodriguez wouldn’t be surprised to see Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake defenders chasing after him again in a postseason football game.
“It could happen,” Queensbury’s standout junior running back said after leading his team to a 28-12 victory over Burnt Hills. “Every year they come out ready to play.”
Burnt Hills was ready Saturday and knew just what to expect in the Class A confrontation with its Grasso Division rival, but didn’t get it done in the regular-season closer for both teams.
Rodriguez ran for four touchdowns and 258 yards on 29 carries, and Queensbury stymied Burnt Hills’ rushing attack in what could be the first of two meetings between the Spartans and the Spartans
Queensbury (6-0, 7-0) sewed up the Grasso Division title with Saturday’s win, while Ballston Spa (5-1, 5-2) finished second and Burnt Hills (4-2, 4-3) finished third.
“Week 7 right before the playoffs, it was a big game,” Burnt Hills coach Matt Shell said. “We win, it’s a three-way tie and we have a shot for home field. Now we’re the No. 3 seed and we’re on the road. We’ve been on the road before.”
Burnt Hills, the three-time defending Section II Class A champion, will play at Averill Park (5-1, 6-2) in the sectional quarterfinals next weekend. Queensbury will host La Salle (3-3, 4-3) on the same side of the playoff bracket.
Burnt Hills lost to Queensbury in the 2018 regular season before winning in a Super Bowl rematch. Burnt Hills beat Queensbury in the 2017 regular season and again in the Section II title game.
“We believe we can matter in the playoffs,” Shell said. “We’re capable of winning games and making plays.”
Queensbury made more of them Saturday in a physical game that got rather testy in the second half.
“We got beat by a better team today,” Shell said. “It was a hard-fought game.”
Queensbury never trailed after Rodriguez scored on a 1-yard run late in the first quarter, but didn’t put Burnt Hills away, either, until Rodriguez sprinted 69 yards to the end zone with 6:33 left and Alex Roca nailed his fourth PAT to make it 28-12.
Sean Collins had intercepted Burnt Hills quarterback Michael Manning just before that score, and Collins picked off another pass afterward.
“It’s not like they completely ran over us,” Shell said, noting that Queensbury was forced to punt five times. “They ground out 28 points, and they earned those 28 points. They had to play four quarters of football.”
Shell liked the manner in which his team played more so than they way it executed.
“I give all the credit to the kids. They played so hard,” Shell said. “If we play like this, there will never be a complaint.”
Logan Stubblebine was Burnt Hills’ standout with eight receptions for 126 yards and two touchdowns. The senior caught a 3-yard scoring pass from Manning late in the second quarter. The senior wide receiver and defensive back recovered a third-quarter fumble and scored soon after on an 18-yard reception to make it 21-12.
Manning was 11-for-25 for 166 yards with his two TDs and two interceptions. Manning took over for Ryan Salisbury early in a 9-7 Week 4 loss at Ballston Spa when Salisbury sustained an ankle injury.
Burnt Hills finished with minus-3 rushing yards.
Burnt Hills 0 6 6 0 — 12
Queensbury 7 7 7 7 — 28
Q — Rodriguez 1 run (Roca kick)
Q — Rodriguez 24 run (Roca kick)
BH — Stubblebine 3 pass from Manning (kick blocked)
Q — Rodriguez 5 run (Roca kick)
BH — Stubblebine 18 pass from Manning (pass failed)
Q — Rodriguez 69 run (Roca kick)