Ballston Spa football edges Amsterdam, 34-31

Ballston Spa football edges Amsterdam, 34-31

Scotties display poise to pull out thrilling victory over Rugged Rams

Ballston Spa

After watching Amsterdam take a 31-28 lead with under a minute to play in the fourth quarter, Ballston Spa junior quarterback Andrew Kramer was a picture of poise with the Scotties needing 57 yards for a go-ahead touchdown and just 38 seconds to play.

A 21-yard run by Kramer on the second play of the drive put Ballston Spa in position to score, and with a sea of Amsterdam defenders after him, Kramer calmly stepped up into the pocket with just three seconds left in the game and spotted Owen Walsh in the middle of the end zone for the winning touchdown as Ballston Spa pulled out a thrilling win over Amsterdam 34-31 Friday night in a Class A football matchup.

“We’ve come prepared," Kramer said. "We practiced that in practice. Our offensive line did a great job of blocking. We have each other’s backs. We’ve been in this situation before. We stayed calm, cool and collected. I was able to get away and found Owen in the end zone wide open.”

Walsh ran a post pattern on the play, and when he found an open spot, he made eye contact with Kramer just before the pass was delivered.

“I was going to run a post, it was a long slant,” Walsh said. “I was open and I locked eye contact with him. I saw I was o6pen so I just stayed there.”

Kramer’s maturity in handling the pressure was evident throughout the final drive, including having the instinct to get out of bounds to stop the clock on his 21-yard scamper.

“It would have been really easy to pack it in and just say its not our night,” Ballston Spa coach Greg O’Connor said. “He (Kramer) gets better every day. He works every day and he is tough on himself, and when things don’t go right at practice, he gets upset. He’s a competitor. He wants to get better, and you can see it. The last couple of plays, he gets out of bounds to keep it alive, and then make that throw. There’s no pressure there, only three seconds left, last play of the game on senior night.”

The rally for Ballston Spa (2-2) offset a furious comeback by Amsterdam (0-4) after the Scotties had taken a 28-16 lead into the fourth quarter.

Seeking a spark to his offense, Amsterdam coach John Homich lifted starting quarterback Tommy Ziskin, following a first half featuring three interceptions, and put in sophomore Jhai Vellon for his first action at quarterback this season.

The move paid off as Vellon rushed for 102 yards on 16 carries and gave Amsterdam the lead with 44 seconds left in the fourth. He spotted Ziskin in the end zone for a 5-yard touchdown pass with the Rugged Rams staring at a fourth down.

“It worked out, we wish it was a better outcome but we had some turnovers in the first half and it swung the other way,” Homich said. “We wanted a spark and we made the switch. He is a sophomore, and for him to come out after halftime and for him to come out and do the job he did, the kids fed off him. That last drive said it, we went right down the field and a lot of it was on his shoulders.”

Senior running back Jovie Aciaco led Ballston Spa with 167 yards in 17 carries and a pair of first half touchdown runs.

Sean Martin, a local freelance writer, is a frequent contributor to the Times Union.