Sunday, October 15, 2006

EFL Post Game Press Coverage October 15th (Final)

Ugly end for Red & Black

EFL CHAMPIONSHIP: Albany pitches shutout as game disintegrates into chaos, ends early 



Sunday, October 15, 2006

With seven minutes remaining in the third quarter of Saturday's Empire Football League championship game, the Watertown Red and Black still had somewhat of a chance.

The Albany MetroMallers were facing fourth down and one from their own 16. Watertown had a good defensive series in the works.

And then it was over.

Sylvester Cooperwood thundered off-tackle, and ran 84 yards for a touchdown. The play was deflating, disheartening, and unstoppable for Watertown. Albany left the Alex T. Duffy Fairgrounds with a 39-0 decision, and its second consecutive EFL title. But it was marred by several incidents on the field.

Watertown receiver Dan Frazier was knocked out of the game on what appeared to a late hit in the fourth, and players from each side had harsh words after every play that followed. As tensions mounted, officials called the game with 56 seconds remaining.

The Mallers (11-1) wasted little time finding their groove. Cooperwood motored for 25 yards on the game's first play from scrimmage, and Culture Branch reeled in passes of 19 and 17 yards on the same series. Albany finished with 469 total yards. Cooperwood had two touchdowns, while Kenny Schaefer scored just before halftime.

"We just got physically handled," Watertown head coach George Ashcraft said. "I want our guys to relish in the fact that we played well enough to get here."

Early mistakes by the Red and Black made an already tall task, seem insurmountable. Ernie Miller scampered for long runs of 15 and 10 yards on trap plays up the middle to create some momentum for Watertown. Two fumbles, though, both near Albany's 10, killed the Red and Black's energy. The 20-point halftime deficit was too much for Watertown to overcome. The Red and Black (9-3) converted a 23-yard screen pass to Anthony Noel for its longest play of the night.

"We just didn't execute," said quarterback Doug Black, who lost for the second time in the championship game. "When they shifted their safeties like they did, if you are going to score, you have to do it with long, sustained, 10-12 play drives. It seemed like every time we got something going, we had a fumble, couldn't convert a third down, or missed an open receiver. All it takes is just one bad play to kill a drive. This is tough to take."


Albany's John Mulino reaches out to hold off Watertown's Anthony Okonji in Saturday's EFL final.

Albany coach Luke Posniewski said it was key for his offensive line to minimize linebacker Mike Dumaw's effectiveness. He said Dumaw made too many big plays when the teams played in August (Albany won 29-22).

"We told our center, 'your job is to take care of Dumaw, and neutralize him on the run," Posniewski said.

Albany found success when Watertown was forced to cover the slot receiver with linebackers. The matchup set up long completions to Branch, Clinton and Mulino.

"We wanted to try and spread them out, and bring (Kyle) Roshia out, on our inside receiver," Posniewski said. "We hold Watertown's linebackers in high regard. We just have too many wide receivers to cover."

Tempers flared late in the third quarter when Albany, while leading 27-0, connected for a 57-yard scoring strike to Clinton. On the ensuing kickoff, a melee broke out near the Red and Black sideline. While scuffles regularly occur during the course of a football game, officials lost control when a large group of MetroMallers charged across the field.

"Supposedly, we started the (fight) on our sideline," the Red and Black's Kyle Roshia said, "but when their whole bench clears and comes across, obviously, we are going to defend our turf. A lot of us were just trying to pull guys off one another."


Sunday, October 15
The Mallers Black and Blue The Red and Black
- By Ed Rickert
Watertown, NY -The Albany Metro Mallers defeated the Watertown Red and Black 39-0 last night to win their second Empire Football League title in as many years. The Mallers were led by the rushing of Sylvester Cooperwood (over 100 yards and 2 touchdowns), the passing of Scott Lawson (3 touchdowns) and the receiving of Macio Clinton (2 touchdowns). The Mallers are the first repeat champs of the EFL since the 2000-2001 Syracuse Vipers.

The Red and Black were behind the 8-ball right from the opening coin toss. The Mallers won and decided to receive. The Mallers marched some 77 yards behind the punishing ground game of Cooperwood and the pin point passing of Lawson to take a quick 6-0 lead. The Maller defense stopped Watertown on the ensuing kickoff giving the offense the ball with 7:32 left in the quarter. The Mallers were once again on the march as they headed toward the east endzone right in to the Watertown version of the “Dog Pound”. The fans in this section were spirited with the help of some spirits as the “mountain” of empties were evident. But just like the R&B defense The Dog Pound wouldn’t stop the Mallers either. Lawson found John Mulino in the corner of the end zone from 11 yards out. The Mallers went for a 2 point conversion thanks to a missed PAT on the first touchdown. Lawson again found Mulino making the score 14-0 with 4:42 left in the quarter.

The second quarter started just as the first ended with the Maller defense making a big play. Linebacker Brian Domingo stripped the ball from an R&B running back and LB Agean Robinson was able to make the recovery with 11:50 remaining. The quarter remained scoreless until a big 46 yard pass from Lawson to WR Macio Clinton to the R&B 6 yard line with 2:36 left in the half. QB Lawson took himself out of the game after he tweaked a leg injury during the throw. Kenny Schaefer took the reigns and led the Mallers to a 20-0 half time score after a 1 yard quarterback keeper. Lawson returned for the third quarter.

The second half started with Watertown receiving the ball. The Mallers defense looked flat and the Red and Black moved the ball down the field with a steady ground game and an effective short passing game. The defense woke up and made another big play when the R&B fumbled again and Jeff Turman made the recovery at the 6 yard line. On their next drive the Mallers were faced with a big time decision. It was 4th down and inches on there own 16 yard line. Head Coach Luke Posniewski decided to go for it. As the R&B defense stacked the line Cooperwood busted through that line and went 84 yards to paydirt. That made the score 27-0 with 6:51 remaining in the 3rd quarter. The Mallers would strike again on a 56 yard toss from Lawson to Clinton making the score 33-0 with 3:02 left in the 3rd. The game got ugly from that point on. Watertown’s frustration and anger came out on the ensuing kickoff as a brawl broke out between the two sides. It seems it started when Camillo Ferarro locked facemasks with an R&B player on the Watertown sideline. A 5 minute melee broke out with players exchanging blows. Cooler heads finally prevailed and the referee crew did a good job and didn’t throw anyone out of the game.

As the fourth quarter started most of the Maller starting offense was out of the game. This gave Schaefer and young running back Julius Irving some game time. Irving made the most of it by capping the Maller scoring for the evening with a 2 yard dive making the score 39-0. There were two more skirmishes between the Mallers and the Red and Black in the fourth quarter. Luckily none of them were major and no one was hurt.

The Mallers will now prepare for the 10th Harvest Bowl. The Harvest Bowl takes the best teams from the northeast region and pits them against each other for the right to play for a national championship. The Mallers defeated The Seacoast Hawks of the NEFL in the first round of the bowl last year but ran in to a Buffalo buzzsaw in the second round and lost 44-19 to The Buffalo Gladiators of The NYAFL.

The Capital Region Sports player of the game is…..Quarterback #4 Scott Lawson. Scott had a great bounce back game from a self admitted sub par game against the Tri State Bulldogs. Congratulations Scott and Congratulations to the 2005 & 2006 EFL champion, Albany Metro Mallers!

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