Oct 22, 2011 Phil Blackwell Uncategorized
Not in a long time had the Jamesville-DeWitt football team hosted a Section III playoff game, and it wanted to make the occasion more memorable with a win over Watertown in Friday night’s Class A quarterfinals.
But the Cyclones did not cooperate, hanging on to beat the Red Rams 22-14. By contrast, East Syracuse-Minoa had little trouble getting out of the opening round, pulling away in the late stages to eliminate Carthage 40-6.
J-D had earned the right to play at home by toppling Cortland 22-12 on Oct. 14. The “reward” for that effort, aside from a home game, was meeting a Watertown side that had started 5-0 this season before defeats to Whitesboro and Indian River.
All week long, the Rams had worked on containing the Cyclones’ star running back, Diamond Williams. However, Williams had other plans, twice finding the end zone in the first quarter on a 39-yard sprint and one-yard plunge.
To its credit, J-D adjusted, and though Williams would finish with 154 yards on 23 carries, he would not score again, giving the Rams ample time to regroup.
On the other hand, J-D’s option offense struggled throughout the first half, unable to move it much against Watertown’s resistance. Thus, it stayed 14-0 going into halftime.
Finally, the Rams got the big play it needed when quarterback Eric Thompson found a seam and took off 34 yards for a touchdown in the third quarter, also hitting the extra point to make it 14-7.
There it stayed until the fourth quarter. Early in that frame, the Cyclones nearly got away, Mason Phillips finding Caleb Bettis on a 34-yard TD pass and Williams scoring on a two-point run.
Now trailing 22-7, the Rams nearly made it all the way back. First, it put together a long scoring drive that Austin Tousaw finished off with a two-yard TD run. Then, getting the ball at its own one-yard line with four minutes left, it started on another long march, knowing a touchdown and two-point conversion could mean overtime.
Watertown snuffed out that last chance, though, when on fourth-down-and-eight, Willie Scott stepped in front of Thompson’s pass and picked it off.
As J-D saw its title dreams end, ESM, thinking about nothing but a shot at a championship, encountered the same Carthage team it beat, 27-6, in the north country back on Sept. 9. And it would take a while for the Spartans to gain total control of the rematch.
On its opening drive, ESM found the end zone when wide receiver Bobby Campese, on a reverse, went 10 yards for the TD. When Jordan Barton took off on a 52-yard scoring run later in the period, the Spartans were up 13-0 and it appeared another rout would follow.
Carthage’s defense would settle down, though, and blanked ESM for the rest of the half. Not until the third quarter, when Barton found the end zone from six yards out, did the Spartans convert again.
Sensing this, ESM’s defense got even more aggressive and physical, shutting the Comets down until Abel Miller’s six-yard TD run late in the third period, which made it 19-6, still a dangerous spot if the Spartans made any more mistakes.
Instead, what Carthage received was a 21-point outburst in the fourth quarter from the hosts. Jeff McDuffie scored on a two-yard run, and Tyler Johnson sealed things with a pair of TD passes – two yards to Campese, then 37 yards to Mike Gourney.
Overall, Johnson had a modest game by his high standards, going eight-for-16 for 190 yards, five of those passes to Campese for 110 yards. Barton did the hard work on the ground, getting 150 yards on 12 carries.
Now, in the Class A semifinal Friday at 8 p.m. at Chittenango, ESM will face Indian River, who after a season-opening loss to Whitesboro has reeled off seven wins in a row, including Friday’s 43-22 playoff win over Cortland where Darrius Bryant and Jason Smith both had three touchdowns.
A win here, and the Spartans will get Watertown or two-time defending champion Whitesboro in the Nov. 4 Class A final in the Carrier Dome. Those two sides play at 5 p.m. at Chittenango, immediately preceding the ESM-Indian River showdown.