Oct 23, 2007 Phil Blackwell Uncategorized
First, the rain let up. Then the reign ended.
Clearly, the Liverpool football team wasn’t responsible for the first part. But it was completely responsible to putting an end to Auburn’s dreams of another improbable run to a state Class AA championship.
All the Warriors did was venture to the rain-soaked grass of Holland Stadium and take the Maroons apart in the opening round of the Section III Class AA playoffs, forcing five turnovers and pulling off a decisive 34-7 victory.
With the win, Liverpool (5-3) advanced to Friday night’s Class AA semifinal against West Genesee (6-2), to be played at Cicero-North Syracuse’s Bragman Stadium at 7 p.m.
From beginning to end, the Warriors carried no resemblance to the team that, in the previous two weeks, saw 14-point leads disappear against CNS and Fayetteville-Manlius. Nor did it seem all that bothered by Auburn’s perfect 4-0 home mark.
In fact, Liverpool, all season, has been a better team on the road — something the Maroons (playing without top running back Ismail Brooks) would discover in a full and painful manner.
The defenses ruled until the late stages of the first quarter. There, Liverpool strung together a scoring drive capped off when Tyler Kamide threw a 42-yard pass to T.J. Davis and Dom Caruso ran 10 yards for the first touchdown of the night.
With Caruso pounding the ball up the middle, Liverpool lulled Auburn up to the line of scrimmage, which was exactly what quarterback Tyler Kamide wanted.
Early in the second quarter, with the Maroons expecting another run deep in Warrior territory, Kamide instead threw over them — and found Mark Sperduti deep. Sperduti covered 81 yards before getting tackled, a back-breaking play that set up Kamide’s one-yard TD plunge.
Auburn tried to answer with a long march that included plenty of runs from Matt Hoey, but a fumble ended that march, a symbol of all the turnover trouble the Warriors would cause.
Up 13-0 at the break, Liverpool was not comfortable — partially because of what had taken place the previous two weeks, and partially because Auburn had rallied so much in the course of its magical 2006 post-season run.
Sure enough, Matt Hoey brought the home crowd into it when he intercepted a Kamide pass and returned it 44 yards for a touchdown early in the third quarter — this after another Auburn turnover at the start of the period.
Soon enough, though, Liverpool regained control, mainly with Caruso. He finished the night with 150 yards on 20 carries, and many of those runs came in Liverpool scoring drives during the second half. He, like Kamide, would add short TD runs to make it 27-7 by the end of the third quarter.
To cap it off, with 6:22 left, Kamide went deep once more and found Mike Suatoni, a 45-yard connection for at touchdown. Even though he completed just five of 13 passes, Kamide accumulated 224 yards in the air to provide balance to Caruso’s power running.
As a whole, Liverpool’s defense took full advantage of Brooks’ absence, holding Hoey to 92 yards and ultimately forcing three fumbles and two interceptions.
This leads the Warriors to its meeting with West Genesee, who did a similar dismantling of Henninger, 31-6, in last Friday’s opening round. They first met Sept. 14, with the Wildcats prevailing 24-21 at Liverpool on Luke Cometti’s last-second field goal. Both teams feature offensive balance and a defensive propensity to force turnovers and convert them into points.
A great battle is in store as head coach Dave Mancuso needs to beat the team he once led in order for the Warriors to return to CNS eight days later to meet F-M or CNS for the Class AA championship.