MASSENA The senior duo of quarterback Ryan McDonnell and receiver Eric Dillon helped guarantee a return to trip to Kingstons Dietz Stadium next week for the Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake football team.
The pair led the Spartans to a 42-0 blanking of Potsdam on Friday night on Mike Nicholas Field at Massena High School.
McDonnell hooked up with Dillon on touchdown passes of 23 and five yards in the second quarter as Burnt Hills took a 28-0 halftime lead, and then Dillon put the game out of reach on the first Potsdam series of the third quarter as he blocked a Sandstoner punt, scooped up the loose ball and raced 23 yards to the end zone for his third straight six-pointer.
Burnt Hills (10-1) of Section 2 reached the Class A state semifinals for the fifth straight season in winning its 10th straight game since an opening-game loss to Troy. The Spartans have played at the Carrier Dome in the state finals three of the past four years but without winning a state crown.
Ive blocked punts before, but never for a touchdown, so this was special, said Dillon, who finished with four catches for 52 yards. You always want to get back to Dietz, its part of the goal. This is a veteran group (30 seniors) and weve been in big games and that should help us from here on.
Burnt Hills, which has scored more than 48 points six times this season, led 7-0 after one quarter on a one-yard plunge by fullback David Newell, and then the Spartans scored 21 points in the second quarter that included a 17-yard run by Dan Maynard followed by the two McDonnell-to-Dillon TD passes.
We showed were able to pass the football and were not just a running team, not just one dimensional, said McDonnell who completed a perfect 8-of-8 passes for 93 yards with one interception. He was also a perfect 6-for-6 on extra-point kicks. For the seniors, its our last chance to go all the way. I think the tradition of this program and being in big games will help us,
Potsdam (9-2) lost to Burnt Hills by a similar score in the 2010 regionals at Massena. The Section 10 champions gave up one last touchdown late in the third quarter when Josh Quesada carried over from six yards out and then shutout the Spartans in the fourth.
The punt block by Eric was big for us and Ryan threw the ball very well tonight, Spartans head coach Matt Shell said.
Its always great to win this time of year and advance on and see what you can do. We didnt know a lot about Potsdam coming in, but I thought we made some good adjustments on the fly and capitalized early on, Shell added.
Burnt Hills will meet either Cornwall or Sommers next week at Dietz.
Potsdam quarterback Will Coleman completed 6-of-9 passes for 97 yards and rushed for 41 more yards, with Garrett Kilgore making four catches for 38 yards.
But the Sandstoners could not get their usually strong running game going, being held less than 100 yards for the first time this season. Coleman was named the games offensive MVP while Dan Devine (nine tackles) was named the games defensive MVP for Potsdam.
Thats a very good football team over there and we wish them well, said Potsdam coach Jim Kirka, whose team won the regular season and Class A sectional championships this season.
I thought our kids played hard. We were playing a running team, thats their strength, but they went go to the air some, he added. Its a once-in-a-lifetime thing for our kids to be here. I have great kids, it was a lot of fun this year and Im going to miss them.