Sunday, November 06, 2005

Metro Mallers Pass the First Harvest Hurdle

The Metro Mallers 2005 quest for an Undefeated National Semipro Football Championship Season became 1 step closer tonight as the Albany powerhouse (16-0) came away with a 34 - 6 victory over the Seacoast Hawks in the opening round of the ninth annual Harvest Bowl Tournament.

The Mallers came out of the gates like a triple crown 3 year old stifeling the Hawks, three and out on their first possession before a bad center snap on a fourth down punt was recovered by linebacker Sean Hardy to set up the Mallers in Hawks territory. Following a Scott Lawson to Collis Martin 22 yard catch & run, Empire Football League Offensive Player of the Year Sylvester Cooperwood hit the center of the line into the endzone for Albany's first score at the 10:44 mark of the first period. Add in a Vinnie Cirrincione PAT and the Mallers were up 7- 0.
After the ensuing Kickoff, the NEFL AA Champs from New Hampshire were again stopped in their tracks by the Maller's powerhouse defense but this time they managed to get the punt up in the air. When it came down into the hands of Farid Baaklini, he took off down the left side line and scampered 54 yard downfield for another Albany score, putting the EFL Champs up 13-0 just 6:29 into the contest. Even when faced with a Seacoast first and goal at the three yard line following an Albany bad snap, the Mallers gained strength from the Defense, and held on four downs, taking the ball back, and marching down field, setting up Jadel Whitfield, as he punched in another score at with 9:25 left in the first half, the team cruised into the locker room with a 20-0 half time lead.

But there was no doubt that the Hawks traveled from New Hampshire to play a full 60 minutes, despite being continually shut down by the Albany Defense, the Hawks came out in after the break & kept pounding away at the heart of the Albany defense until it finally gave way. Running Back Mike Craig, broke 2 tackles and sped downfield 80 yards before Albany Safety Damon Walker caught him from behind at the two yard line. Two plays later, Craig found the end zone and put The Hawks up on the board with six.

Then up stepped the veteran EFL All stars Bo Gaudreau and Matt Holmes. Gaudreau on a crucial third quarter third and 16, sliced across the middle with a 18 yard catch and carry (carrying 4 Hawks on his back that is) for the first down to keep the drive alive and then Holmes followed up a 17 yard completion from QB Ken Schaeffer to Collis Martin with a 12
yard catch and run of his own from Schaeffer and a 4 yard off tackle run into the endzone to stretch the lead back up to 21 points at 27 - 6 with just under 5 minutes left in the third quarter; and he wasn't done yet. As the final stanza got under way , QB J. P. Howard led yet another Albany drive down field with passes of 11 acrobatic yards to Akili Dunkin and 16 yards to Sylvester Cooperwood. Holmes capped the drive with a 12 yard outside-in run off left tackle to ice the game at 34 - 6.

In other Harvest Bowl action the #2 seed 10-0 Lowell (MA) Nor'easter of the New England Football League was upset by the 14th seeded Charlestown (MA) Townies (4-4) of the Eastern Football league.

Albany moves on to the Harvest Bowl Classics' Quarterfinal round next Saturday November 12th, in a game to be played at Knox Field in Johnstown, NY at the home of the Glove City Colonials. Opponent to be Announced.

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