Sep 06, 2013 Phil Blackwell Uncategorized
East Syracuse-Minoa’s first football play from scrimmage resulted in a touchdown. So did the second play, and so did three more plays in the first eight minutes of Thursday night’s season opener against Watertown.
This stunning outburst amounted to 32 points, and though the Spartans would cool down and let the visiting Cyclones back into the contest before halftime, it would reclaim control in the latter stages and cruise to a 47-21 victory.
No question, ESM was fired up to play the initial Section III gridiron contest of 2013 in front of a live television audience thanks to Time Warner Cable Sports. It also was eager to prove that last fall’s first-round Class A playoff exit was an aberration, and that it was ready to contend for championships again.
Yet even the most optimistic Spartans partisan could hardly imagine the way it would start. On the very first snap, Henninger transfer RiQuelle Othman took a handoff, sprinted left toward the sideilne, and outran the Watertown defenders 63 yards to the end zone.
The Cyclones’ Ken Singletary promptly fumbled on its first snap,and Andrew Messinger recovered on the Watertown 24. On the very next play, Sean Richardson went for it all and found Eyan Underwood for his first TD pass of the season. Even with a missed extra point, it was 13-0, and the game was just 35 seconds old.
When Underwood pounced on another Singletary fumble on the Cyclones’ second play from scrimmage, ESM had a third chance – and got a third touchdown, using an 18-yard pass to Anthony Townsend to set up Othman’s one-yard scoring plunge.
Now it was 19-0, but more was ahead. On its fourth possession, the Spartans, using a no-huddle, hurry-up approach, turned again to Richardson, who threw 33 yards to Underwood before finding DeShaun Gorman on a screen pass that turned into a 37-yard sprint to the goal line and a 25-0 margin.
Following a three-and-out, Richardson provided the finishing touch to this stunning outburst when he took a snap out of the shotgun and ran straight ahead, 58 yards for ESM’s fifth touchdown.
Just as shocking as this 32-0 start, though, was the way Watertown answered once it was able to hold on to the ball. Before the first quarter ended, Juan Ruiz broke loose for a 50-yard TD run, and that altered the momentum for the rest of the half.
ESM’s defense struggled throughout the second quarter as the Cyclones used a solid mix of runs and passes to move the ball on a pair of 78-yard scoring drives. Both of them were capped by short TD runs – one by Ruiz, the other by Singletary.
Suddenly, what looked to be a rout was suddenly a real contest, the Spartans only leading 32-21 at the break. That led to a spirited talk by head coach Kevin DeParde and his staff in the locker room, and the ESM players listened well.
Everything that worked for Watertown late in the first half got stuffed in the second half. Four times, the Cyclones turned the ball over, none more important than K’Hari Flagg’s intereception of a Malik Evans pass near his own end zone early in the third quarter that kept the Cyclones from getting closer.
Late in that period, after a Gorman interception, the Spartans marched 90 yards, including a 27-yard reception by Underwood and a fourth-down run by Jose Sanchez that set up Othman’s third TD, from one yard out. Richardson would add a second scoring pass to Underwood in the fourth quarter.
ESM will go for two victories in a row next Thursday night when it goes to the Albany area to face Colonie (Section II). Again, game time is 7 p.m.