Sunday, July 31, 2005
Not even close: Red Black routed
by Matt Cordova, Times Sports Writer
First published: Sunday, July 31, 2005
Nobody was busier during Saturday's Empire Football League game at the Alex T. Duffy Fairgrounds than the guy operating the scoreboard.
That is, except for the Watertown Red and Black defense, which was helpless in trying to stop the Albany Metro Mallers, who rattled off 27 fourth-quarter points en route to a 39-0 drubbing of the host Red and Black in its first home game of the regular season.
For the second week in a row, Watertown was attacked from the air and couldn't muster a defense to counter it. Albany quarterback Scott Lawson completed 13-of-21 pass attempts for 315 yards and four touchdowns.
With running back George Eason and linebacker Mike Dumaw back in the lineup, Watertown had to feel good about its chances against Albany, which has emerged as the class of EFL.
For three quarters, the Red and Black had the Mallers, who led 12-0 after the third, on their heels.
"I thought we played a great first half of ball," Watertown head coach George Ashcraft said, "but we missed a couple of scoring opportunities."
Albany's high-powered offense struggled to find its rhythm early in the game. Linebackers Kyle Roshia and Dumaw, who finished with 10 and six tackles, respectively, managed to find the Metro Mallers' backfield and apply pressure to Lawson. But Albany converted too many third downs and kept alive drives that Watertown initially had appeared to stop.
The punishing running by Albany backs Sylvester Cooperwood and Jadel Whitfield was effective enough to set up the Mallers' passing attack. Even though Watertown kept the score close, it always seemed that the Mallers could strike at any time. In the final quarter, they did.
"I think it was a case of we would bend, bend, bend and eventually we were going to break," Roshia said. "Sometimes the morale can swing and on defense; it's always the big play that gets us."
Three of Lawson's scoring strikes came in the fourth quarter. Collis Martin (43 yards), John Mulino (20 yards), and Culture Branch (28 yards) were all on the receiving end of touchdown passes. Branch caught two. The Metro Mallers just had too many receivers for Watertown and its struggling secondary to handle.
"We wanted to try and beat them through the air and this year we are just blessed," Albany coach Norman Mann said. "We made some adjustments at halftime but we expected a tough game."
Mann also said he is fortunate for the tools that he has at his disposal. "We will take what you give us," he said, "we are lucky enough to do that."
Watertown's best chances to score were in the first half. The Red and Black failed to take advantage of a 27-yard field goal attempt with just over a minute remaining in the opening quarter. Then, in the second quarter, Ashcraft chose to go for it on a fourth-and-2 from the Albany 7-yard line. The Mallers wrapped up Al Countryman for no gain and still haven't allowed a point in an EFL game this season. Ashcraft said that he didn't want to risk another failed field goal attempt.
"I thought we could get the first down or go for the (field goal)," Ashcraft said. "Nothing seems sure anymore, and it's definitely better for everybody if we go ahead before halftime."
The Red and Black's offense also was plagued by dropped balls and overthrown passes in the first half. No points resulted directly from the team's first half miscues, but they did cost the Red and Black possible scoring chances.
Quarterback Doug Black connected on five passes for 29 yards. He threw just one interception, but, it set up an Albany drive that Whitfield would eventually cap with a 26-yard touchdown run.
Eason, playing for the first time since July 2004, gained 44 yards on 10 carries.
"I'm not down on anybody in particular," Ashcraft said after the game. "It seemed we got tired of getting to the quarterback, and offensively we have to put the ball in the end zone.
"I still think I have a very good team overall. My goal now will be to finish out the regular season 9-1 and go from there."
Dave Currier threw two touchdown passes, but it wasn't quite enough as the St. Lawrence Valley Trailblazers fell in a 20-14 in an EFL loss to visiting Montreal.
Ernie Miller and Cheyenne Dashnaw led the Trailblazers defensively. Miller recorded nine tackles, a sack, an interception, and a fumble recovery, while Dashnaw provided eight tackles and three forced fumbles.
Scoring the touchdowns for St. Lawrence Valley (3-4, 3-3) were Joe Hutchinson and Buddy Compeau.
Andrew Blevings scored two touchdowns in the second quarter to boost the Titans (3-1, 3-1).