Kingston When crunch time came, the Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake football team delivered.
Four big plays in the second half helped the Spartans (11-1) pull away for a 28-13 victory over Section IX's Cornwall in Friday's Class A state semifinal at Kingston's Dietz Stadium.
The victory propels BH-BL into its fourth state championship game appearance in the last five years. The Spartans meet Section VI's Sweet Home in next weekend's Class A final at the Carrier Dome in Syracuse.
To get to the Carrier Dome, BH-BL had to shut down Cornwall's passing game -- something no team in the lower Hudson Valley had done this season. Quarterback Mike White entered the semifinal game having thrown for more than 2,300 yards, including a 430-yard effort in Monday's 34-13 regional victory over Section I's Somers.
BH-BL had difficulty containing White in the second quarter, as the junior engineered two touchdown drives with short passes underneath the Spartans' coverage. But BH-BL started blitzing White in the second half, and the pressure got to him as he started throwing wildly.
"No. 11 (White) is a great player, and he's got great receivers," said BH-BL defensive coordinator Shawn Kline. "Everybody had to do their job (defensively)."
The first big play came early in the third quarter. Trailing 14-13, Cornwall (11-1) had an opportunity to score the go-ahead touchdown with the ball at BH-BL's 17-yard line. White heaved a pass toward the front right corner of the end zone, but Michael Danz stepped in front of White's intended receiver and hauled in an interception at the 1-yard line.
"I knew their offense is really good, and they're always a threat to score," said Danz. "So, I knew I had to catch the ball because they could have easily scored on the next play. I just caught it and held on."