Sunday, August 14, 2005

RB Noel leads way for Red and Black Watertown overwhelms Montreal at home

by Matt Cordova, Times Sports Writer
First published: Sunday, August 14, 2005

Make room for Anthony Noel.

With running backs George Eason and Vince Williams not in attendance, Noel was next in line to lead the Watertown offensive backfield. While he has proved effective all season thus far, Noel most likely won himself a spot in the starting lineup as his two rushing touchdowns and five receptions spurred the Watertown Red and Black to a crucial Empire League Football victory, 45-22 over the Montreal Titans on Saturday night at the Alex T. Duffy Fairgrounds.

Noel gained 74 total yards but was quick to credit his teammates for his own good fortunes. "It was a total team effort and we all played together.

"I've been waiting for an opportunity and when it got here I was ready to step in. It felt good," he said.

What also had to please the Red and Black (3-4 overall, 3-2 EFL) was that for the first time this season, the team found a way to put together a total game effort. The defensive intensity remained high, and the offense operated without a glitch.

More importantly, when the Titans appeared to be on the brink of making the game competitive, Watertown responded with a long, time-consuming drive that squeezed the energy out of a Montreal team that took more than a few hurting players home. In the previous two losses, the Red and Black had suffered major collapses in the fourth quarter.

"We knew we could do it," said wide receiver Earnest Wash, who scored a touchdown and reeled in six passes for 105 yards. "We just needed to prove to ourselves we can keep our effort going."

Wash and his teammates nearly buried the Titans before the end of the first half, taking a 31-0 advantage into the intermission. Watertown got rushing touchdowns from Al Countryman and Noel before the break and enjoyed a dominant defensive effort.

Mike Dumaw, John Check and Ben Pritchard played like possessed men and wreaked havoc for Montreal starting quarterback Mike Hyatt.

"We wanted to try to swing the momentum our way early," said Dumaw, who finished with 10 tackles and two monstrous sacks. "We tried to pick it up a little more. It feels good to be on the other side."

But it wasn't just Dumaw, Check and Pritchard giving the Titans fits. Brian Podvin's blocked punt set up Noel's second scoring run, and Jon Fisher returned an interception 31 yards for a touchdown.

"Everybody played well," Watertown head coach George Ashcraft said.

Montreal (4-2) posted 14 of its 22 points in the third quarter. A roughing-the-punter penalty on Watertown extended the Titans' first drive of the second half, and Andrew Blevings scored his team's first touchdown from 1 yard away three plays later.

On Watertown's ensuing possession, kicker Leo Grant's 45-yard, field-goal attempt fell short, allowing a return by Montreal's Adrian Kellman. Kellman bobbed and weaved his way for 80 yards before pitching to Max Arthur, who went on to score the touchdown. The two-point conversion made the score 31-14, and it seemed Montreal had some momentum.

The Red and Black answered with a nine-play drive that ate up five minutes and was capped by a 6-yard touchdown run by Countryman on a draw up the middle for his second TD of the night. With that series, Watertown found out it doesn't have to fold when an opponent makes a charge.

"That was an important drive," Noel said. "In the huddle we were saying that we just needed to get back into rhythm."

Said Ashcraft, "I think any time we go down the field and score is important."

Ashcraft also seemed impressed with Noel's efforts and said he is worthy of another opportunity to show what he can do.

"He's been wanting it. So, we gave it to him and he answered. He can do it."

  • NOTES: Check and Rod Gleisner each tallied four tackles. ... Watertown's Brian Williams, playing in his first game, made an interception. ... Tyrell Haos scored a fourth-quarter touchdown for Montreal. ... Lynn Patrick recorded a sack for Watertown. ... Countryman rushed for 79 yards on 12 carries, and Doug Black completed 15 of 28 pass attempts.

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