Sunday, July 16, 2006

Zephyrs earn first win

Zephyrs earn first win


Recorder Sports Staff

Amsterdam Zephyrs head football coach Dominic Ruggeri didn't mind getting doused with a bucket of water Saturday night.

The Zephyrs turned away the St. Lawrence Valley Trailblazers, 19-6, in Empire Football League play at Lynch Middle School field.

It marks Ruggeri's first win as a head coach in the EFL.

"We got the monkey off our back,"Ruggeri said. "The offense stepped up overall. If the offense plays like that and the defense stays off the field, we can play with anybody in the league."

Charlie Castro returned the opening kickoff 19 yards to the 40 to get the Zephyrs going.

Tim Stewart and Jared Brown took turns getting the handoff from quarterback Eric Johnson and put together 25 yards. The Zephyrs were marching on the Trailblazers' 35.

Then Johnson found Castro open for 16 yards and Stewart galloped 11 yards to the eight.

After an illegal procedure penalty, Johnson connected with Mike Herrington for a 13- yard touchdown pass with 8:01 left in the first quarter. Alvaro Montes booted the extra point and a 7-0 advantage.

Then the Zephyrs' special teams took center stage.

Lamont Lane fielded a Zephyrs punt and was hit immediately by Jeremiah Newborn in the end zone for a safety and a 9-0 lead.

The Zephyrs weren't satisfied with that margin and wanted more. Starting from their 45 after a Trailblazers punt, Brown picked up eight yards and brought the ball to midfield.

Johnson hit Brown with a screen pass and the speedy back did the rest going 50 yards for a touchdown. Again, Montes booted the PAT and the Zephyrs went ahead, 16-0.

A costly mistake by the Zephyrs gave St. Lawrence Valley its only score. With possession at its 28, Johnson's pass was intercepted by Terrance Harris who returned it 32 yards to the 3.

Then James Compeau went off tackle and scored a touchdown with just 16 seconds on the board to cut the deficit to 16-6 at halftime.

For the most part, both offenses couldn't muster any yards and Montes kicked a 25 yard field goal with 6:22 left in the third quarter to conclude the scoring.

"We just didn't play the type of ball we can play. The offensive line didn't do the job and that's two weeks in a road. We were able to move the ball but then we lost our starting quarterback (David Currier)," said Trailblazers coach Mike Britton.

Johnson had a much better performance, completing 6-of-17 passes for 111 yards with one interception.

"It was great the way the offense finally came through. It was nice to drop back and see what's there,"Johnson said. "Now we know what we're capable of. This is a stepping stone."

Stewart was the big rusher with 102 yards on 13 carries and Brown contributed 61 yards on six rushes.

"The offense is still growing. We moved the ball. Eric (Johnson) got time to throw the ball and see what happens. Our team healed a lot of wounds from last week. This was a character builder. We're gaining a lot of confidence with this win. The adjustments we made have to be credited to coaches Dave Nicosia and Mike Finocchi. The offense won the game for us."

Aaron Robinson had one solo and two assisted tackles plus one sack, Rick Hulett had two sacks, one solo and one assisted tackle to spark the defense.

The Zephyrs (1-1) will visit the Watertown Red and Black on Saturday at 7:30 p.m.

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