Sunday, July 15, 2007
EFL Post Game Coverage July 15
Lake City drops EFL opener
— AMSTERDAM -- The Lake City Stars were hoping that the jitters and nervousness they faced in their first game of the season against Glens Falls would have subsided by the Empire Football League opener.
Head coach Pat Keleher was hoping that the first game mistakes his Stars made would have dissolved.
It didn't happen.
Lake City turned the ball over four times, all of which proved to be costly, as it fell to the Amsterdam Zephyrs, 38-21, in the EFL opener for both teams on Saturday.
"We had four turnovers, three of which gave them the ball in scoring position, and an interception in our own end-zone where our receiver fell down," Keleher said. "That's 17 points for them and seven taken away from us -- get rid of those turnovers and all of a sudden the game isn't as bad as you thought."
Amsterdam took the early 7-0 lead as Eric Johnson hauled in an 18-yard touchdown pass from Ken Schaefer.
Lake City bounced back to tie the contest at seven when Matt Bezio found Kelly Gordon for a 26-yard score.
The second and third quarters, however, belonged to the Zephyrs.
Amsterdam scored 24 unanswered points on a 25-yard touchdown pass to Evan DeGeorgio, a two-yard rushing score by Schaefer, a 20-yard field goal by Alvaro Montes and a 15-yard interception return by Rich Johnson.
"Offensively they were very good upfront," Keleher said. "We had a difficult time pressuring their quarterback and he did an excellent job finding people open. They have quality receivers and their passing game hurt us.
"Kevin Fessette was unavailable for us tonight and that caused some problems for us in the secondary. As the game progressed we had to start to gamble a little bit to get some pressure, and we ended up getting burned a couple of times."
The Stars had a mini-comeback attempt in the fourth quarter as Gordon scored for the second time in the game on a 29-yard pass from Bezio. Matt St. Clair's 15-yard touchdown catch from Bezio pulled Lake City to within 10 at 31-21, but the game would get no closer.
Cedric Pearman finished the scoring with a 49-yard touchdown catch from Schaefer late in the fourth for Amsterdam.
"They controlled the line of scrimmage defensively and we a had a lot of breakdowns in our protection," Keleher said. "Our defense was great against the run -- B.J. Godfrey played a heck of a game -- and the majority of their rushing yardage came on quarterback scrambles.
"We were great against their rushing attack, but not as great in the passing attack."
Godfrey led the Stars with nine tackles on defense while Brandon St. John finished with seven. Kyle Babbie had two sacks in the contest.
Bezio was 13-for-23 for 170 yards through the air with three touchdowns, but tossed three interceptions. Gordon hauled in five catches for 79 yards, St. Clair had three catches for 38 and Heath Geiser added two for 25.
"Our receivers made good catches," Keleher said. "We were good in the passing game when we had time to throw. Of Bezio's 10 incompletions, five were throwaways and two were catches made out of bounds -- he didn't miss too often when he had time to throw.
"The youth and inexperience showed, but I am an optimist, I saw some good things again. Take away our turnovers and solve the protection problem and I think we can be a good football team.
"Now we just have to regroup, work on those problems and get ready for Montreal."
Amsterdam 38, Lake City 21
A- Johnson 18 pass from Schaefer (Montes kick).
LC- Gordon 26 pass from Bezio (Montanaro kick).
A- DeGeorgio 25 pass from Schaefer (Montes kick).
A- Schaefer 2 run (Montes kick).
A- Montes 20 FG.
A- Johnson 15 interception return (Montes kick).
LC- Gordon 29 pass from Bezio (Montanaro kick).
LC- M. St. Clair 15 pass from Bezio (Montanaro kick).
A- Pearman 49 pass from Schaefer (Montes kick).
LC- B. Keleher 7-17; Ky. Nolan 4-13; Geiser 1-4; Gordon 4-33. Totals: 16-66.
LC- Bezio 13-23-3-170, 3 TD. Sacks: 1-(-8). Totals: 13-23-3-162, 3 TD.
A- Schaefer 16-24-0-219, 3 TD.
LC- M. St. Clair 3-38, TD; J. Keleher 2-13; Verkey 1-13; Gordon 5-79, 2 TD; Geiser 2-25. Totals: 13-170.
A- DeGeorgio 6-111, TD.
LC- Babbie 2.
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Zephyrs win season opener
By MIKE ZUMMO, The Leader-Herald
AMSTERDAM — A strong second quarter points got the Amsterdam Zephyrs on their way.
The Zephyrs took a 21-7 halftime lead and held on during a second half that had endless pushing and shoving, resulting in penalties, as the Zephyrs hung on for a 38-21 victory over the Lake City Stars to open the 2007 Empire Football League season.
"We got up big and we got sucked into the taunting game," Amsterdam coach Dominic Ruggeri said. "We can't afford cheap penalties like that. That's what I was afraid of."
The Zephyrs and Stars got into a scuffle on the Stars' sideline and the officials needed to break up some minor scuffles after the whistles blew plays dead in the second half.
"I'm disappointed in our lack of discipline," Ruggeri said. "It's something that I stress strongly. I don't tolerate and I've already gotten in a couple of guys' faces and told them it's not going to happen again. They have to learn to walk away otherwise it hurts the team."
Even after the game ended, the two teams were yelling at each other as they walked to opposite ends of the field.
"I don't want to criticize anybody," Lake City coach Pat Keleher said. "I think I need to do a better job keeping my kids under control. I think Coach Dom needs to do a better job keeping his kids under control. We, as coaches, have to be able to control that."
Kenny Shaffer picked apart the Stars' inexperienced secondary, throwing three touchdown passes in the first half to give the Zephyrs a 21-7 lead at halftime.
"I'm very young in the secondary," Keleher said. "My starting safety couldn't be here tonight. I've lost some secondary guys due to National Guard issues and I started two guys right out of high school."
Shaffer marched the Zephyrs down the field to start the game, leading his team on a nearly six-minute, 50-yard drive hitting Eric Johnson with a 10-yard pass to get Amsterdam's first first down. Elijah White chewed up 13 yards on the ground and Shaffer brought the Zephyrs to the 10-yard line setting up his seven-yard touchdown pass to Johnson, giving Amsterdam a 7-0 lead.
Shaffer did most of the heavy lifting for the Zephyrs as the running backs only accounted for 47 yards.
"We really need to control the ball a little more and stop putting all the pressure on our quarterback," Ruggeri said. "If we don't do that, we could be in trouble with someone who has a better secondary."
The defense forced a three-and-out, but the offense coughed up the football on their own 27-yard line, setting up Matt Bezio's 21-yard touchdown pass to Kelly Gordon and Thomas Montanaro's extra point tied the game at 7-7.
Shaffer broke the tie with 8:06 left in the second quarter with a 25-yard touchdown pass to Evan DeGeorgio and Shaffer used his legs to score on a two-yard touchdown run and Alvaro Montes' kick gave the Zephyrs a 21-7 lead.
The Zephyrs' offense stalled at the Lake City 4-yard line with 9:53 left in the third quarter and Alvaro Montes kicked a 21-yard field goal to give Amsterdam a 24-7 lead.
The defense forced turnovers on the next two drives as Aaron Robinson recovered a fumble, but the offense couldn't capitalize and the defense scored a touchdown on its next series as Rich Johnson returned an interception 15 yards, giving Amsterdam a 31-7 lead.
Then, on the next drive, the penalties started to pile up and pushed the Zephyrs back to their own 25-yard line. Bezio took advantage of the short field for a 28-yard touchdown pass to Gordon to cut the Zephyrs' lead to 31-14.
"Our defense was dominating," Ruggeri said. "They couldn't get a first down and then we started buying into their cheap shots and their taunting and we couldn't ignore them. We gave them three easy scores. They never should have scored a point."
Bezio connected for his third touchdown pass on another penalty-aided drive, hitting Matt St. Clair with a 2-yard touchdown pass pulling the Stars (0-1) to within 10 points, 31-21.
The Zephyrs scored their final touchdown with 57 seconds left in the game as Cedrick Pearlman caught Shaffer's pass, bounced outside and sprinted toward the end zone, finishing off a 52-yard touchdown pass, giving the Zephyrs (1-0) a 38-21 lead and a season-opening victory, but Ruggeri said he wants more discipline from his players during next week's game against the Vermont Ice Storm.
"Vermont is a very solid football team and if we make these kinds of mistakes, we're going to be in a dogfight," he said. "These guys have to understand that. We're going to stress that Tuesday and Thursday in practice."
Amsterdam 38, Lake City 21
Lake City 7 0 0 14 — 21
Amsterdam 7 14 10 7 — 38
A — Shaffer 7 pass to E. Johnson (Montes kick)
LC — Bezio 21 pass to Gordon (Montanaro kick)
A — Shaffer 25 pass to DeGeorgio (Montes kick)
A — Shaffer 12 run (Montes kick)
A — FG Montes 21
A — R. Johnson 15 interception return (Montes kick)
LC — Bezio 28 pass to Gordon (Montanaro kick)
LC — Bezio 15 pass to St. Clair (Montanaro kick)
A — Shaffer 48 pass to Pearlman (Montes kick)
Section: Sports Date Posted: 7/15/2007
POTSDAM — A sequence of two plays in 30 seconds kept the St. Lawrence Valley Trailblazers from having a successful season opener on Saturday night.
The Ottawa Deacon Demons picked up a 37-yard touchdown reception from Doug Watters before halftime, and then captured all the momentum when Kevin Coombs opened the second half with a 79-yard kickoff return for a touchdown.
Ottawa dodged St. Lawrence Valley's late surge and hung on for a 20-13 victory in the first Empire Football League game for both teams.
While the Deacon Demons dealt the Trailblazers yet another defeat, St. Lawrence Valley came away pleased with its performance, especially on defense. They managed to hold one of the EFL's top rushers, Shawn Harkes, to 83 rushing yards. Ottawa gained 92 total yards on the ground.
"What's good about this defense is our communication," said linebacker Ricky Delaney, who recorded team-highs in tackles (nine) and sacks (two). "We're picking up everything we need to. We talk on the field and the sidelines, and it's really helped us."
It also helped that the St. Lawrence Valley offense scored on its first drive of the regular season. Quarterback Dave Currier connected with Joe Hutchinson for a 6-yard score to give the Trailblazers the early edge.
The wide-open offense installed by Trailblazers head offensive coach Mike Britton was on display with Currier as the centerpiece. He completed 19 of 39 passes for 200 yards and two touchdowns. Hutchinson also had eight catches for 104 yards.
"There are some things we need to work (on)," Britton said. "We're concerned about our running game (which logged two yards on nine carries), but our passing game is what sustains us. When teams play us for the pass, I would think our running game will open up."
Ottawa immediately went to backup quarterback Brent Hill after starter Davin Corbett was intercepted by James Compeau in the first quarter. He orchestrated a 61-yard drive that led to a T.J. Williams rushing score, and placed a perfect touchdown pass to Watters to put the Deacon Demons ahead at halftime.
"Our defensive corners went for the (interception) instead of the hit," Delaney said of Watters's touchdown. "One should have went for the (interception) and one should've went for the hit. It was just miscommunication, and it cost us."
Coombs stretched the Deacon Demons' lead to two touchdowns as he slipped past St. Lawrence Valley's coverage for a devastating score on the kickoff return.
The Trailblazers received terrific field position and took advantage following a mishandled punt early in the fourth quarter. Currier found Danny Staton for another 6-yard score to trim the deficit back to a touchdown.
But the last two of Currier's three interceptions came in the final three minutes. Regardless of the result, the Trailblazers believe the squad is heading in the right direction.
"What more can you ask?," defensive coach Jim Compeau said. "They were in a position to win at the end. None of them quit. The attitude at the end of the game was just as good as it was in the beginning."
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