Sunday, September 10, 2006

EFL Post Game Press Coverage September 10th


Scranton Eagles fall



The Scranton Eagles finally ended their scoreless quarter streak, but that could not prevent a fifth straight loss in Empire Football League action Saturday.


Eric Johnson threw two scoring passes to send the Amsterdam Zephyrs to a 13-8 victory over the Eagles. Scranton’s only win this year was a 36-6 triumph over Amsterdam.

The Eagles (1-6-1) had two solid scoring chances in the second quarter, but both bogged down in Zephyrs territory. After driving to the Zephyrs 16, an incomplete pass ended the Eagles first good chance. An interception of John Kennedy stopped a threat that reached the Amsterdam 22.

Johnson found Mike Harrington for a six-yard scoring pass, capping an 84-yard drive with 10:21 left in the first half.

The lead grew to 13-0 when Johnson delivered a 19-yard scoring pass to Charles Castro with 7:11 to go in the third.

The Eagles, who visit division-leading Albany next Saturday, reached the end zone with 8:10 to play when Kennedy hit tight end Nick Parlanti with a seven-yard scoring pass. Kennedy got the Eagles within five when the veteran found Andre Chollette with the conversion pass. The drive was set up by Dean Joseph’s interception at the Eagles 16.

Had the Eagles been shut out, that would have been a first in team history.

Broome County and Tri-State started the Eagles on the scoreless skid.

Amsterdam Zephyrs defeat Scranton, 13-8

By The Leader-Herald

AMSTERDAM — The Zephyrs held on to their lead late despite a fourth-quarter scoring drive by the Eagles to cut the lead to 13-8 in the closing minutes. Eric Johnson passed for 130 yards and two touchdowns on a 10-for-18 night with no interceptions and Penta Thomas ran for 101 yards on 13 carries.

Amsterdam’s defense was led by Mike Philo and Rick Hewlitt up front and a secondary that played well all over the field against Scranton quarterback John Kennedy after two weeks on the shelf.

The Eagles’ lone score came against the Zephyrs’ reserve unit. Amsterdam coach Dom Ruggeri said he was glad to see the defense clicking after the break.

“They weren’t the strongest they’ve been,” he said, “but they got the job done.”

Mike Harrington scored on a 30-yard reception in the last two minutes of the second quarter and Charlie Castro scored on a 20-yard pass from Johnson. The scoring drives went for more than 60 and 70 yards.

Amsterdam now needs to beat Broome County next week to guarantee a playoff spot.

The game was a benefit for the family of Steve Longobardo and drew between 700 and 800 fans, Ruggeri said.

Zephyrs alive for playoff berth


Recorder Sports Staff

The Amsterdam Zephyrs moved one step closer to the Empire Football League playoffs with a 13-8 victory over the Scranton Eagles on Saturday night at Lynch Middle School field.

Mike Herrington hauled in a 35 yard touchdown pass and Charlie Castro had a 19 yard scoring aerial, both from quarterback Eric Johnson.

The Zephyrs, 3-5, will travel to Broome County on Saturday and a win will earn a playoff berth. Scranton slipped to 1-6-1.

"Win and we're in," said Zephyrs head coach Dom Ruggeri. "This is big. Now we're in the scenario we wanted. If we beat Broome, we make it. This was a big step. The guys came in and took care of business."

Scranton was driving from its 37 to the Zephyrs' 13 when Terry Coleman intercepted a John Kennedy pass. On his return, Coleman fumbled but recovered the ball and the Zephyrs were in business at the 16.

Penta Thomas picked up five yards, Ken Hudson added two and Thomas four more and the Zephyrs had first and 10 from the 27. After two incomplete passes, Thomas got past the Eagles line and rambled 38 yards to the Scranton 35. Then Johnson found Herrington for a 35 yard touchdown pass with 10:21 left in the first quarter and a 6-0 advantage.

Then Mark Holmes picked off another Kennedy pass to stop a drive as the Zephyrs' defense came up big.

A short punt by Scranton gave Amsterdam great field position at the 30. After three plays, the Zephyrs sent Alvaro Montes on the field for a 30 yard field goal but the attempt was partially blocked and the Zephyrs held a 6-0 margin at halftime.

The Zephyrs went 60 yards on 10 plays to open the third quarter as Johnson and Castro teammed up for the 19 yard score. Johnson tossed a 16 yard pass to Evan DeGeorgio to help set up the touchdown. The Zephyrs held a 13-0 lead with 7:11 remaining in the third quarter.

An interception by James DeJoseph gave Scranton the ball at the 17. Then veteran quarterback Kennedy hit DeJoseph for 16 yards, Thad Witek for 11, Ben Worlinsky had a 26 yard reception and Galry Visnofsky for 11 yards. Vishnofsky then carried for a 16 yard gain before Kennedy saw Nick Parlanti open for an eight yard touchdown pass with 8:10 left in the game. The two-point conversion was successful and Scranton trailed, 13-8.

The Zephyrs couldn't muster any offense but then Mike Philo delivered a clutch punt deep in Scranton territory and Castro raced downfield and stopped the ball at the one.

Scranton failed to move the ball and the Zephyrs' offense took over and ran out the clock.

"The defense shut them out the whole game. He's (Kennedy) one hell of a quarterback. Our defense stepped up huge. The secondary did a great job and the offense did what they did and controlled the ball. The offensive line was right there for us. Coming off two weeks and two practices, we'll take it. We weren't sharp, but sharp enough," said Ruggeri.

Thomas gained 101 yards on 16 carries. Jorge Rodriguez posted four solo and five assisted tackles and Aaron Robinson added two solo and seven assisted tackles.

Defense, special teams carry day for Lake City Stars

September 10, 2006

OTTAWA — It wasn't pretty, but the Lake City Stars captured a 14-7 victory over the Ottawa Decon Demons on Saturday in Empire Football League action.

The offense had a hard time moving the ball, especially through the air as Johnny LaPlante wasn't able to connect on a pass, but the defense and special teams were able to carry them to a victory.

"Gus Terry was phenomenal punting the ball," Stars head coach Ed McCallister said. "He had five punts tonight for 214 yards.

"On one of the punts, there was a bad snap to him in our own end zone, and he kicked the ball 40 yards left footed (Terry kicks with his right foot) while on the run.

"He is by far the best punter in the league and (Ryan) DeCamp was perfect again tonight on extra points."

Lake City found themselves trailing 7-0 after Ottawa's quarterback Garry Pelletier found the end-zone from a yard out in the first quarter.

The defense took things into their own hands as Jeremy Dowler caused a fumble and Russ Gallo pounced on the ball in the end-zone which tied the game at seven after DeCamp's kick.

The Stars' rushing attack was still in full force as they ran for a total of 139 yards. Jed Randall scored the eventual game-winning touchdown from a yard out late in the second quarter.

Brandon Keleher led Lake City with 72 yards rushing and Heath Geiser added another 54.

"In the second half the defense just shut them down," McCallister said. "Even Murphy was outstanding at cornerback and ended up with two interceptions.

"This was just an outstanding defensive effort."

Heading into tonight's game, McCallister had feared that his team might have been looking past Ottawa and towards next week's rematch against Vermont.

"I just had that feeling," McCallister said. "I hope this sends a bit of a message that we have to focus. Ottawa is a good football team; their record doesn't show it, but the are a play here or there from having a good record.

"It wasn't pretty, but we won and that is what we came to do. We are 6-2 now and we can get ready for the rematch.

"We just have to play better than we did tonight. This was the second win of our playoff — two down and four to go."

Lake City 14, Ottawa 7
Lake City 0 14 0 0 — 14
Ottawa 7 0 0 0 — 7

Cole's quick feet save Watertown

EMPIRE FOOTBALL LEAGUE: Red and Black WR scores on long play in overtime to beat Dragons

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Lester Cole broke the line of scrimmage on the first play of overtime Saturday night with a carefree gait, as he jogged about 5 yards upfield.

His defender took the bait, and in a flash, Cole was gone. There was no chance of catching him. And the wide receiver had no choice but to catch the ball. He had a promise to keep to Doug Black: He wouldn't again allow himself to be overthrown.

"He vowed it would never happen again," said Black after tossing a 51-yard scoring pass to Cole that gave Watertown a 25-19 Empire Football League victory over the Broome County Dragons at the Alex T. Duffy Fairgrounds. "And, so far he's been right."

After winning the coin toss before overtime, Black said he wanted one chance to shoot for gold. The veteran signal-caller knew Watertown had seized momentum with two sacks on Broome County's final offensive drive. He figured it was about time see Cole in the end zone.

"Every game the defense has given us a chance to win," said Black, who completed 13 passes for 241 yards. "I said, 'Let's try (for a touchdown) once.' I was able to look off the safety, and one-on-one deep, you are not going to cover Cole. He's too fast."

The Dragons (4-3) were off to a faster start, though. Sam Ragsdale broke free for a 79-yard touchdown on the opening kickoff, but Broome County struggled to move the ball. Watertown registered three sacks in the game, but offensive miscues by the Red and Black allowed the Dragons to stay in it.

Jamie Hoover picked up and returned an Anthony Noel fumble 36 yards for a touchdown, and George Graham reeled in an 86-yard pass from Ty Fish for a fourth-quarter touchdown that tied the score at 19-19.

Black was intercepted twice during the second half, including one with 53 seconds left in regulation. As it has all season, the defense picked up where the offense faltered. When Jeremy Podilla raced by his blocker and buried Fish for a 7-yard loss, Watertown's sideline was revived.

"Whenever you get a sack on defense, it sets the tone," Podilla said. "The biggest thing is we don't point fingers. We just gave (the offense) a pat on the back, and said, 'Put it behind you. We have a lot of football left. It's not over.'"

Trailing after one quarter, Watertown pasted 16 points on the board in the second. Back-to-back 5-yard runs by James Todd helped set up a 6-yard scoring pass to Rod Gleisner. On the next drive, Black found Noel between two defenders in the end zone for a 24-yard TD.

Watertown quarterback Doug Black prepares to pass the ball as Broome County's Pasquale Iacono pressures him during Saturday's Empire Football League game at the Alex T. Duffy Fairgrounds.

Still recovering from broken ribs, Noel carried most of the rushing load for Watertown with 60 yards on 17 carries. Ernie Miller and James Todd combined to rush for 87 yards, and a rollout pass from Black to Kenny Anderson netted 68 yards for the veteran tight end. Head coach George Ashcraft said the play-calling ability of the coaching staff has been key to the team's success.

"I think I've got the best (coaching) staff in the league," Ashcraft said. "They listen to the players, and they get along with the players. That's huge."

Watertown did benefit from two botched extra-point attempts by Broome County, though. If the Dragons would have converted even one of them, Cole would have never had the chance to be the hero.

"Our long snapper wasn't here, and there are a few plays I'd like to have back," Dragons coach Tommy Manny said. "But that's the way it goes."

Cole finished with five catches for 79 yards and his sixth touchdown of the season. It was almost comical how Cole, just moments before his teammates and coaches piled on him in the end zone, duped his defender on the game's final snap. In his first season, Cole is already one of Black's primary targets. As long as he isn't running too fast.

"He knows I'm going to be there for him. It took him awhile to adjust to my speed," Cole said. "I tell him every day in practice, laughing, joking around, 'You want something good? Look my way.'

It came true tonight."

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