Sunday, June 26, 2005

Express rolls to victory vs. Red and Black

Express rolls to victory vs. Red and Black
by John O'Donnell, Times Sports Writer
First published: Sunday, June 19, 2005

A football rivalry dating back to the turn of the 20th century resumed Saturday night at the Alex T. Duffy Fairgrounds when the Central New York Express of Syracuse defeated the Watertown Red and Black 28-12 in a semipro exhibition game. The Red and Black has played several different semipro teams representing the city of Syracuse over the years.

Billed as a preseason game, the two teams treated it more like a regular-season encounter. The Red and Black wanted to prove it could hang with the 2004 National Football Events national champion. And for a very short time, Watertown did. For 39 seconds, the Red and Black held the lead.

It didn't take long for Express quarterback Chris Bresnahan to show his talents, as he threw for three touchdowns in a 28-12 victory.

"The Express had a couple of big plays for scores on our defense,'' said Red and Black coach George Ashcraft. "I think we learned a lot tonight. We knew coming into the game that the Express had a heck of a passing game.''

Ashcraft was pleased, for the most part, with his team's performance in the exhibition game.

"In the next three weeks before our Empire Football League opener in Ottawa we can change some people around,'' he said. "If everyone comes to practice in the next three weeks I really believe we could do very well this season.''

Vince Williams, who had a successful career at Watertown High School in the late 1990s, put the Red and Black ahead 6-0 with a 7-yard touchdown run in the second quarter. The extra-point try failed.

Bresnahan quickly put the visiting Express, a member of the New York Amateur Football League, on the scoreboard with a touchdown pass to wide receiver Ed Perry that covered 51 yards and tied the score at 6-6. The extra-point try failed.

Bresnahan made it 12-6 later in the second quarter with a 3-yard touchdown run. A two-point conversion pass from Bresnahan to wide receiver Rychard Dykes gave the Express a 14-6 lead at halftime.

The teams played a scoreless third quarter that was highlighted by numerous penalties. In the fourth quarter, it was all Bresnahan and the Express offense.

Bresnahan, a former University of New Hampshire quarterback by way of Corcoran High School in Syracuse, threw a 25-yard touchdown pass to Dykes. The Express increased its lead to 22-6 on a two-point conversion pass from Bresnahan to Perry.

The Red and Black, having trouble moving the ball on offense after its first touchdown, roared back shortly after the Express score with a pass play from quarterback Doug Black to receiver Brian Beltz that covered 49 yards to the Express 2-yard line. But on the next play from scrimmage, Black's pass into the end zone was intercepted by Mike Grenton.

Bresnahan quickly drove the Express to its final score of the night, a play that was set up with a pass to wide receiver Steve Scott. The play covered 60 yards. Bresnahan culminated the drive with a 2-yard touchdown pass to tight end Chico Hale.

Al Countryman, returning to the Red and Black after retiring following the 2003 season, saw action on both offense and defense. The veteran, who scored the Red and Black's final touchdown, late in the fourth quarter on a 1-yard run, wasn't surprised that the teams played a physical game.

"We stayed with them in the first half,'' he said. "We just made a couple of key mistakes on both sides of the football tonight. I am sure we will build on this.''

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