Sep 30, 2008 Phil Blackwell Uncategorized
Not so long ago, the East Syracuse-Minoa football team could look at an opponent like Cortland and not worry too much about how it would turn out.
But the rapid improvement of the Purple Tigers had produced a Class A playoff appearance in 2007 and a 3-0 start this fall. This made Cortland’s visit to Spartan Stadium last Friday night the most important game so far in the Class A American division.
With first place on the line, ESM made timely offensive plays to get in front, then turned the show over to its defense to scrape past the Purple Tigers by a score of 14-7.
For the second time in three weeks, the Spartans found itself playing in wet conditions. And perhaps it wasn’t a coincidence that, just like the Sept. 12 game at Fulton (a 10-7 thriller won by Andy Heagle’s last-second field goal), points would be precious.
Thus, ESM felt quite good when, on its opening series of the game, it moved to Cortland’s 33-yard line, then seized a 7-0 lead when quarterback Ben Kreischer threw deep and found Ziad Jinadu in the end zone for the touchdown.
Patiently, Cortland provided an answer, needing 10 plays to go 54 yards and scoring on Josh Morehouse’s one-yard run just before the first quarter.
So it was 7-7, and it would remain that way the rest of the first half. Both teams were content to establish their respective running games, especially in Cortland’s case since ESM had already forced Purple Tigers quarterback Dan Porter into a pair of interceptions.
Early in the third quarter, Cortland took possession, then marched deep into Spartan territory, ready to go in front. But on ESM’s 13-yard line, Porter had trouble with the handoff and the wet ball fell to the turf, pounced on by defensive lineman Charlie Moore.
With that turnover, the Spartans went to work. Immediately faced with a fourth-down-and-one at its own 22, ESM went for it, as Kreischer sneaked for two yards and gained the first down.
Soon, a long march was at hand. Kreischer and Dustin Moss handled the ball most of the time (42 yards between them), working behind linemen Eric Waltz, Dillon Cannoro, James Russo, Kyle Button and Andy Wowelko. Moss would carry the ball 34 times on this night, earning every one of his 108 yards against the tough Purple Tigers defense.
And just when Cortland crowed the line of scrimmage at midfield, Kreischer threw over them, a deep ball that tight end Vince Caraballo somehow grabbed with one hand and hauled in for a huge 27-yard gain.
Three plays later, Kresicher found Caraballo open in the end zone, an 11-yard touchdown strike, to put ESM back in front. In all, the 87-yard drive lasted more than six minutes and 15 plays.
Now it was up to ESM’s defense to make that lead stick. That didn’t prove to be a problem as, just like Fulton, the Spartans didn’t allow a first down in the fourth quarter, using interceptions by Kreischer and Heagle to seal the win.
ESM now heads for back-to-back road games, starting Friday with a trip to Mexico for a 7 p.m. kickoff. The Tigers are 0-4, coming off a 23-0 loss to Jamesville-DeWitt.