Sunday, September 11, 2005

Red and Black disappoints Trailblazers

by Max DelSignore, Times Sports Writer
First published: Sunday, September 11, 2005

POTSDAM - St. Lawrence Valley coach Mike Britton wasn't having flashbacks, but three players he knows too well kept his Trailblazers from scoring an upset win Saturday.

Doug Black tossed two touchdowns passes to Earnie Wash, and John Check's blocked punt and fumble recovery in the end zone was enough to give the Watertown Red and Black a 21-14 win in an Empire League Football showdown at Sandstoner Park.

The Trailblazers (3-7, 2-6 EFL) pounced on Watertown early, but Britton knew the momentum could subside.

"We jumped out on them, but we knew they were going to come back," Britton said. "They're too good of a team."

The Red and Black (6-4, 6-2 EFL) did have time off, but still came in on a three-game winning streak. The team struggled to find its rhythm early on in the game.

"We haven't played a game in three weeks," wide receiver Earnie Wash said. "I contribute it to rust and underestimating the defense."

An aggressive St. Lawrence Valley defense made Black anxious in the pocket. On the first Watertown possession, a tipped pass was hauled in and returned 13 yards by James Compeau for the opening score.

"We put the pressure on Doug, and I think he was rattled a little," linebacker Norm Martel said. "He wasn't finding his receivers."

Britton, known for his offensive mind, dug in with a trick play two possessions later. A 49-yard reverse touchdown pass from Joe Hutchinson to Dan Staton gave the Trailblazers their largest lead of the season at 14-0.

Holding on to a comfortable lead, the St. Lawrence Valley defense relaxed, opening the door for Black. He connected with Wash for a 5-yard touchdown, cutting the lead in half.

"Once we figured it out, we got rolling," Wash said. "It was just like old times."

Watertown then marched 92 yards down the field in 50 seconds, culminating in a 19-yard touchdown pass from Black to Wash just before halftime.

"That connection has been there since I was a coach there," Britton said. "It's nothing unusual, something I'm very familiar with. I knew when it happened, you could tell."

With the Trailblazers buried deep in their own territory, Check, a linebacker, broke free and blocked a Joule Robinson punt. Check recovered the ball in the end zone.

"You've got to win in all three parts of the game," Britton said. "You've got to be strong offensively, defensively and special teams."

Watertown's defense shut down the Trailblazers' running game in the second half and pressured quarterback Dave Currier to toss several incompletions. As St. Lawrence Valley inches closer in the rivalry, the Red Black realizes Saturday's game was a pivotal win.

"I don't take anything away from St. Lawrence Valley," Red and Black head coach George Ashcraft said. "They came out prepared today. I congratulate Coach Britton and his team. Those guys played their butts off."

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