Sep 18, 2009 Phil Blackwell Uncategorized
Three big plays, all given up in the first quarter, put the East Syracuse-Minoa football team into a deficit it could not get out of in Friday night’s big Class A American division showdown with Fulton.
On the ground, through the air and with special teams, the Red Raiders hurt the Spartans many different ways, ultimately spoiling ESM’s debut on its new artificial turf field at Spartan Stadium in a 33-20 decision.
Going in, the consensus was that both teams would live, or perish, through their ground games – Fulton spreading things around, ESM through Dustin Moss, who ran for 300 yards against Cortland a week ago.
No doubt, the Red Raiders were itching for payback, too, since ESM had won each of the last three meetings on its way to three consecutive league titles, including a 10-7 decision at Fulton in 2008 won by the Spartans on a last-second field goal.
Fulton’s first big play came through the ground. Staring at fourth-down-and-inches on its own 35-yard line, the Red Raiders went for it. ESM expected an inside run – but quarterback Brett Williams faked the handoff and took off down the sideline, 65 yards to the end zone for a quick 6-0 Fulton lead.
Moss gave the Spartans a quick answer, accounting for most of the yards on a 64-yard march, including the last 30 for a touchdown. Moss also hit the extra point, and ESM was up 7-6.
It was ESM’s only lead of the night – and it lasted just 14 seconds, the length of time it took John Strong to return the ensuing kickoff 88 yards for his own TD. A two-point run by Williams made it 14-7.
And Fulton wasn’t done yet. late in the period, from his own 27, Williams threw deep and found Max Ambuske alone in the backfield. Ambushe finished off a 73-yard TD reception, and ESM found itself down 21-7.
Finally, the Spartans’ defense settled down a bit, long enough for Jake Curtis to cut the margin to 21-13 on a 12-yard scoring run. But Fulton answered with a 74-yard march, most of it through the ground, as D.J. Ingham went the final 15 yards for the score 1:02 before halftime.
Despite all this, the Spartans nearly made it all the way back. A 77-yard march late in the third quarter ended with Moss making a nifty cutback on a 23-yard TD run that, combined with his own PAT, made it 27-20.
When Fulton fumbled on the first play of the fourth quarter and Jamie Landry recovered, all the momentum appeared to be on the Spartans’ side.
Two possessions later, ESM had it on the Red Raiders’ 30, but then tried a trick play, Moss throwing a halfback option. Fulton read it, though, and Strong intercepted the pass in the end zone with 7:35 left.
What followed was a 10-play, 80-yard march that consumed five minutes of clock, Fulton returning to its trusty ground game with Strong doing most of the work. Fittingly, Strong, on a toss play, went the final 23 yards for the clinching touchdown.
Overall, Moss had 187 yards on 32 carries. Remarkably, Strong matched that running total of 187 yards (a new career mark), but needed just 20 carries for it.
ESM is home again next Friday to face Carthage at 6:30. The Comets are 2-1 following a 47-26 loss to defending Class A champion New Hartford.