Sunday, October 04, 2009
EFL Post Game Press Coverage October 4th
Cole emerges at right time
WATERTOWN WINS: Receiver's hands guide R&B into EFL final
By MATT CORDOVA
SUNDAY, OCTOBER 4, 2009
Lester Cole began the Empire Football League season playing defensive back for the Watertown Red and Black, but that didn't work out so well.
It turns out the veteran wide receiver's skills serve the team much better on the offensive side of the ball.
Cole hauled in five passes Saturday night for 154 yards and a pair of touchdowns at the Alex T. Duffy Fairgrounds, as Watertown blanked the Binghamton Dragons 19-0 in the EFL semifinals.
The win produced the Red and Black's sixth shutout of the season and secured a spot in the championship game — against either Plattsburgh or Quebec — for the third time in four years.
Watertown rebounded from a scoreless first half to produce touchdowns on its first three offensive drives after the break, and they punted only when 12 seconds remained in regulation.
T.J. Williams added an 8-yard touchdown run to complement 71- and 60-yard scoring grabs by Cole, who was apparently fooling only himself by trying to become a defender.
"He's a wide receiver," head coach George Ashcraft said. "If you can air the ball out there, he'll run and get it. I said to him, 'The best thing you can do for this team is be a wide receiver. But as a DB, you won't be a starter.' And then he said he'd change back (to receiver) for the team."
The Red and Black (10-1) opened its postseason by throwing the ball more consistently than it had all year. That's because the Dragons (6-6) stacked the line of scrimmage tightly enough to control Watertown's powerful running attack.
The strategy was effective until Brian Williams connected with Cole on Watertown's first play of the second half.
"We want to be able to pass the ball, and they forced us to," Brian Wi lliams said. "But we knew we couldn't just do it on third down. We figured on first down we could get something on a play action, and that's exactly what happened."
Binghamton seemed stunned by the play.
"We definitely were in a run defense on that," coach Thomas Manny said. "The safety bit on the run, and gave the guy a 4- or 5-yard cushion."
And Cole felt re-energized after committing such a vicious assault on the Dragons' secondary.
After t oiling through a 3-7 campaign last season with just one touchdown, Cole missed racing down the field past defenders, watching their laborous efforts to catch him from behind.
In his fourth season, Cole, who rejoined the offense on Aug. 22, has learned that to not scream so loudly for the ball can translate into the thunderous cheers from the stands he soaked in Saturday.
"It's all about patience, and that's one thing I don't usually have," he said. "But I was quiet through the season, and this was a great way for me to open up the playoffs — with two big catches to get our team in the game."
Binghamton improved dramatically over two regular season meetings in which Watertown outscored the Dragons 80-13 .
But if the Red and Black showed up expecting another lopsided victory, it instead got a game.
The Dragons recovered a Watertown fumble in the first quarter, but it proved to be their only break. All eight of Binghamton's possessions ended with a punt as Dylan Kirker and Dustin Houppert each notched 10 tackles. Dan Robl turned in nine stops and a sack for the Red and Black.
Joseph William's juggling 14-yard grab kept alive an 11-play, 6 minute, 12 second series that preceded T.J. Williams's score.
For all the attention paid this season to the rushing attack, Brian Williams's most effective tool in engineering this victory was his right arm.
He completed his first six attempts of the second half as the Red and Black converted two important third-and-9 plays en route to its best drive of the night.
"We feel we have an explosive offense," Cole said. "And for us to go to the half 0-0 is just not us. This is a big statement. If teams want to put nine guys in the box, we'll pass on you. That's something we want everybody to know."
The Red and Black's previous two championship games at the Fairgrounds didn't end favorably. Albany won the 2006 title with a 39-0 victory, and Glens Falls won in 2003 by 30-6. Vermont edged the Red and Black, at Vermont, 9-8 for the 2007 title.
Ashcraft expects a different result this time.
"Everything around here has changed," he said. "There aren't any 'me' people around here. It's a team. I know that alone can carry us."
Published October 04, 2009 12:25 am - Plattsburgh defeats Montreal in overtime 22-19.
Stars reach EFL title game
By NICK ST. DENIS
MONTREAL — Chris Fish blocked a punt in overtime and Mitch Ryder sealed a dramatic win with a 21-yard field-goal kick to lift the Plattsburgh North Stars to a 22-19 victory over the Quebec Titans in the Empire Football League semifinal game.
It was a thrilling ending to a tough battle of defense and special teams.
"I can't emphasize how proud I am our team," Stars coach Pat Keleher said.
The Stars blocked the point-after attempts of Quebec's last two scores, including an extra-point kick that would have given the Titans a 1-point lead with 33 seconds remaining in the game.
Quebec started the overtime period with the ball, but t he Stars got a big third-down sack after Quebec quarterback Kevin Wyeth gave the Titans a first down on a passing play.
"Our defensive line in particular played fantastic, pressuring him all night," Keleher said.
Plattsburgh grabbed two early points with a safety on defense, but Quebec returned an interception for a touchdown to give the Titans a 7-2 halftime lead.
However, Plattsburgh quarterback Ken Stay rebounded with a 3-yard touchdown pass to Fish, a 2-yard conversion completion to Jordan Keleher and a quarterback sneak for a touchdown later in the game.
Ryder added a 35-yard field goal in the fourth quarter in addition to Quebec's two touchdown scores.
Plattsburgh's special teams softened the blow of the loss of Zach Blocker with excellent kick-return play from Jordan Keleher and Kelly Gordon.
"They had great returns all night," Coach Keleher said. "I don't think a single return went for under 30 yards."
Running back Brandon Keleher compiled 89 yards on the ground on 23 carries, including a 27-yarder that set up the game-winning kick.
"Coach (Tom) Sorrell and Coach (Scott) Aguglia put together great game plans, and we just stuck to them," Keleher said.
Plattsburgh is slated to face Watertown in the EFL championship game next weekend in Watertown.
The Red and Black defeated Vermont, 19-0, Saturday night.
Plattsburgh 22, Quebec 19