Shenendehowa and Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake are headed back to the Section II football finals in their respective classes.
Shen (8-1) knocked off Columbia 34-12 in last Friday’s Class AA semifinal in Clifton Park, while BH-BL (8-1) pulled away for a 36-20 victory over Class A rival Queensbury.
Shen faces Shaker (9-0) in Friday’s Class AA final at Brent Steuerwald Stadium. One night later, BH-BL plays Amsterdam in the Class A final at Shen.
Shen used a big second half to eliminate Columbia (5-4) last Friday. Corey Acker had a pair of long touchdown runs, and Marcelino Christie added an 8-yard scoring scamper to help the Plainsmen break open a close game.
Acker got Shen on the scoreboard first with a 9-yard touchdown run in the first quarter. The Plainsmen missed the extra point, though, leaving them with a 6-0 lead.
Columbia tailback Chris Smith tied the score at 6 a short time later with a 77-yard touchdown run and put the Blue Devils ahead by capping a second-quarter series with a 1-yard scoring run. But Acker caught a 46-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Ryan Buss, and Anthony Vilardi added the extra point to put Shen in front 13-12 at halftime.
The big plays continued for Acker in the second half. He had a 75-yard touchdown run in the third quarter to put Shen ahead 20-12, and he added a 64-yard scoring run in the fourth quarter to seal the victory.
Acker rushed for 166 yards and caught two passes for 57 yards to lead Shen’s offense.
Several miles away, BH-BL shook off Queensbury by outscoring the Spartans 21-6 in the second half.
“Queensbury is a really good team, and they were a really good challenge for us,” said BH-BL coach Matt Shell. “They were very physical, and we were able to match them with some physical play of our own.”
The scoring started in the second quarter when Queensbury’s Alston Moses broke free for a 48-yard touchdown run and caught a two-point conversion pass. BH-BL then mounted its own scoring drive, which was capped by David Newell’s 7-yard touchdown run. Quarterback Ryan McDonnell completed a two-point conversion pass to Ben Roberts to tie the score at 8.
Queensbury’s Phillip Wettersten had a 29-yard scoring run later in the second quarter to put the Spartans ahead 14-8, but McDonnell found Eric Dillon for an 11-yard scoring strike and added the extra point to give BH-BL a 15-14 halftime lead.
BH-BL opened up a larger lead in the third quarter on touchdown runs by Vince Dowdle and Josh Quesada. Wettersten had an 8-yard scoring scamper for Queensbury late in the third quarter, but Newell added a short touchdown run in the fourth quarter to put the game out of Queensbury’s reach.
Shell said his team will need a strong performance Saturday to defeat Amsterdam (7-2) for its fifth consecutive Class A Sectional title.
“We just have to play consistently on offense and limit our turnovers,” said Shell.