Sunday, October 05, 2008

EFL Post Game Press Coverage October 5

Red and Black finishes EFL season with win

OFFENSE COMES THROUGH: Watertown misses playoffs, but takes momentum into offseason




The Watertown Red and Black's offensive opportunities were limited during the second half of Saturday's Empire Football League game.

But when it was needed most, the team put together a key offensive series that sealed a 33-26 victory over the Ottawa Deacon Demons at the Alex T. Duffy Fairgrounds.

The Red and Black (3-7) took over at the 50 with 9 minutes, 12 seconds left in regulation, clinging to a seven-point lead. It needed to find a way to quell the momentum Ottawa (3-6) had seized after consecutive 12- and 11-play touchdown drives that consumed most of the second-half clock.

Finally, Watertown's defense got a much needed break.

The Red and Black, powered by running back Anthony Noel (15 carries, 131 yards), orchestrated a 7:15 march that culminated with Noel's second touchdown and a 33-20 edge.

The Deacon Demons returned the ensuing kickoff to Watertown's 14, and reached the end zone three plays later, but the Red and Black would not be denied a second straight home triumph to close out the season.

"It's been a rough season with some ups and downs," said veteran receiver Earnie Wash, whose 3-yard, second quarter reception yielded his second touchdown of the year. "We had to put one in the end zone (on the long drive). We knew we could break their back with a touchdown."

The Red and Black's slim playoff hopes faded when Amsterdam squeaked by Massena for an overtime victory. Amsterdam and the Deacon Demons are both 3-6, and, at a time to be determined, will continue a suspended game from July 26 to decide the fourth and final entrant to the EFL postseason. Watertown, however, will not participate in the playoffs for the first time since 1995.

"This was a rebuilding year," head coach George Ashcraft said. "And what we have to build from is good. I'm very, very pleased."

Antonio Alexander's 55- and 53-yard interception returns for touchdowns in the first half proved to vital for Watertown's success in the finale.

Ottawa's Shawn Harkes, who entered the game as the league's top rusher, lived up the billing as he gutted out 122 yards and four touchdowns on 31 carries.

Deacon Demons quarterback Francois Azzi attempted just four passes in the game while leading his run-oriented offense. Alexander's third pick was negated by a pass-interference penalty in the final quarter.

"It was all just good jumps," the first-year cornerback said. "They were good throws, I just beat the receiver to the ball each time.

"I was thinking 'Get it to the end zone,' so I had to throw the boosters on."

Brian Williams completed his first three pass attempts, including a 19-yard connection to Anthony Tyrkala to convert a fourth down on Watertown's first possession. The play set up an eventual 10-yard scoring run by Noel, and Watertown never trailed.

Ottawa's comeback try was aided by favorable field position for most of the game. It started two of its three second-half drives in Watertown territory, and scored all three times it had the ball after halftime.

Ben Pritchard also turned a strong, all-around performance for Watertown. He rushed three times for 26 yards, and blocked two extra-point tries. Adam Bossinger registered 13 tackles, while Jeremy Pecori had six stops for the Red and Black.

"Last week's win was great, because it at least gave us a chance to get in the playoffs," Alexander said. "We should have been winning games all year like this. But we'll take it now."


The Silver and Black (0-10) came close to winning in the final game of its inaugural season, but was defeated in overtime when Ken Schaefer hit Issmal Green with a 50-yard pass to give the Zephyrs (3-6) a win in an Empire Football League game in Massena. Amsterdam defeated Massena 27-6 two weeks ago.


Amsterdam Zephyrs defeat Massena

POSTED: October 5, 2008

MASSENA - The Amsterdam Zephyrs eked out a 24-18 overtime victory over the Massena Raiders to close out their regular season on a positive note.

The Zephyrs will find out their postseason plans today after a meeting of the league commissioners.

Saturday, Amsterdam fought back from an 18-15 deficit entering the fourth quarter to tie the game on a 23-yard field goal from Brian Barrett with 3:40 left in regulation.

The Zephyrs secured the victory with 7:30 left in overtime when Ken Schaefer hit Issmal Green with a 50-yard touchdown pass.

Schaefer and Green hooked up earlier in the game for a 4-yard touchdown and Joe Newborn punched in a 1-yard third-quarter touchdown. Tucker Gifford rounded out Amsterdam's scoring, sacking the Raiders' quarterback in the end zone for a safety.

Schaefer finished the night with a 15-for-39 passing performance for 252 yards. Green contributed 10 catches for 135 yards and two touchdowns.

Defensively, Amsterdam was led by Joe Hall's four solo tackles and six assists. Gifford had two solo tackles, and assisted on three more. Mark Nellis and Rick Huelett had four and three solo tackles, respectively.


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