September 10 , 2007


Red Dragons debut with late night romp


Joe McIntyre/staff photographer
SUNY Cortland running back Andrew Giuliano makes a cut near the sidelines as Morrisville defender Bryant Parker (54) gives chase.  Junior Giuliano rushed for 247 yards and three touchdowns in 71-7 Red Dragon romp Saturday night.

Sports Editor

As this evening of lightning lunacy and heartbreaking mishaps and gridiron gallantry finally concluded well after the midnight hour, SUNY Cortland head coach Dan MacNeill was asked for an assessment of the proceedings.
In a season opening football outing that took five hours and 46 minutes to complete thanks to a pair of lengthy delays created by lightning, his Red Dragons were lopsided 71-7 winners over visiting Morrisville State thanks to a 35-point third quarter scoring spree.
Back-up junior tailback Andrew Giuliano rushed for 247 yards and three touchdowns, and also blocked a punt that teammate Michael Zielinski returned for a momentum-swinging second quarter touchdown. The defense held the visiting Mustangs to 135 total yards, and got a 62-yard touchdown interception return from senior safety Ricky Case.
So as the rain pelted down on the SUNY Cortland Stadium Complex, his 51st birthday having come and gone as Saturday evening turned into Sunday morning, Coach MacNeill tried to sum things up.
“It looked like we played a pretty complete football game at the end,” said MacNeill after this successful start. “But it didn’t look like that at the second lightning stoppage.”
The initial halt in the action came right after Cortland won the coin toss and elected to defer its choice to the second half. Lightning and heavy rains arrived then, the kickoff to the 2007 season actually getting underway a little over an hour later.
When play was interrupted a second time for lightning, after Cortland had reached the Mustangs’ 2-yard line on Giuliano run with 6:42 left to play before halftime, this game was deadlocked at 7-7.
Morrisville, a very youthful squad in only its second season knocking helmets against Division III schools, was creating all sorts of havoc at that time. Adding to the Red Dragon woes were these bits of misfortune:
l Cortland lost senior fourth-year starting quarterback Alex Smith, who had to be carried off the field after re-injuring his surgically repaired right knee being tackled at the end of an 11-yard scramble in the very first quarter. It is the same injury that ended the captain’s season a year ago.
l Cortland also lost starting senior tailback Dustin Bowser to a concussion, Bowser eventually taken to the hospital, while junior strong safety Matt Berman was sidelined by a separated a shoulder.
SMITH HAD DIRECTED an opening 69-yard touchdown drive, capped by flipping a 2-yard touchdown pass to senior fullback Brian Bert. But when Smith went down during the next Red Dragon possession, the Cortland offensive struggled a bit before junior quarterback Ray Miles could get acclimated.
Bowser would depart early in the second quarter, shortly after Morrisville had tied the game when Mike Kingston scored returning a punt blocked by teammate Keith Oquendo.
That’s when Cortland reached the Morrisville 2-yard line only to have lightning arrive for the second time. That created a two-hour interruption, wiped out the evening’s Homecoming celebration halftime plans and sent a good chunk of some 2,000-plus spectators looking for other forms of entertainment.
The break also gave the Red Dragons a chance to regroup.
Giuliano felt the long delay not only helped the Red Dragons refocus on the task at hand, coaches having the players lie down in a darkened locker room to envision their assignments and responsibilities, it also “made us more relaxed.”
Cortland stepped back on the field a different team, for sure. “We were up, certainly ready to play,” said Coach MacNeill.
Two plays after the resumption, Miles came up with a touchdown toss to fullback Bert on a repeat of Cortland’s initial scoring play. In the waning moments of the half, Giuliano blocked the punt that junior Zielinski legged into the end zone for the touchdown.
And after getting the ball right back following three straight Morrisville incomplete passes and a punt, Cortland closed the half with Matthew Mintz drilling a 40-yard field goal between the uprights.
That was part of a productive night for Mintz, who was a perfect 8-for-8 in extra-point boots as well as booming several kickoffs. Dating back to the 2005 season, Mintz has made 52 straight PAT kicks.
The third quarter belonged to Giuliano and the practically brand new offensive line — a tight group of juniors featuring John Schillinger at center, James Mignone and Joe Weinstein at guards and Justin Kindt and Sean James at tackles.
Cortland’s 24-7 halftime lead swelled to 59-7 over those dominating 15 minutes of play.
GIULIANO RUSHED for 202 yards in that quarter alone, his 247 total on just 16 carrries (an average of 15.4 yards per trip) the second best single game effort in school history. Dave Cook covered 276 yards back in 1983 against St. Lawrence.
“Some of those holes you could have driven a truck through,” said Giuliano, the 5-foot-10, 210-pounder who rushed for just 61 yards as a third stringer last season. “It was a lot of fun. I’ve had fun before, but not fun like this.”
On the second snap of the third quarter, Giuliano broke free off right tackle for a 73-yard end zone burst. He followed that up with touchdown runs covering 58 and 14 yards. The first was a sideline jaunt after making a nice grab of a Miles option pitch, the latter end zone sweep coming a play after an errant punt snap by Morrisville set the Red Dragons up in scoring position.
Case returned an overthrown pass from constantly harassed Morrisville quarterback Jim Boling the distance on the visitors’ next series, that 62-yard jaunt the sixth longest in school history.
Giuliano had a 43-yard run before the third quarter ended that set up a Miles touchdown toss to sophomore Zacc Guarangno from four yards out.
In a fourth quarter where the clock never stopped running at Morrisville’s request, Cortland freshman Cory Russell out of LaFayette scored on touchdown runs of 10 and eight yards to finish off the romp.
“PRETTY IMPRESSIVE STUFF,” was how MacNeill felt his team handled the calamity of the evening, the injuries and delays not taking a toll. “It says a lot about these kids.”
Cortland did not turn the ball over despite slick conditions, was whistled for only three penalties and ran up 362 rushing yards behind its new offensive line. And the defense stood tall, linebacker Jim Smith with 10 tackles as the Morrisville offense never got beyond the Cortland 35-yard line.
Of course, the loss of quarterback Smith was heart-wrenching — especially considering the off-season work he did following knee surgery last fall.
On crutches afterwards, he was undecided upon whether to have another surgery or try to come back and play this season with his knee in a brace. The offense will be in Miles hands for now, as the Red Dragons head to Brockport Saturday afternoon for their next non-league test.




Olympians crowned in Oxford

OXFORD — Marta Malmberg scored two goals and dished out one assist while Kaitlyn Bliss added two second-half goals as Marathon Central field hockey girls captured the Oxford Tournament championship Saturday night with a 6-2 win over the host Blackhawks in the title game.
“We really put things together Saturday night,” said Marathon coach Karen Funk. “We moved some players around and they found out that they could play those new positions.
“This was a good tournament for us,” Funk continued. “We really needed to come back after the Vestal loss in our tournament. It is always good to beat Greene and to cap off things by beating Oxford was good.”
Tessa Knapp gave Marathon (3-1 overall) a 1-0 lead midway through the first half with an assist from Malmberg, but Oxford tied things with 1:11 left in the half as Christi Baker scored an unassisted goal.
Malmberg put the Olympians in front for good with 30 seconds left in the first half.
Hannah Griep recovered the ball and raced inside the Whitney Point 25-yard line 4:30 into second half play. Griep dodged a couple of defenders, loved into the circle and fired a hard shot passed goalkeeper Alyshia Crawford (four saves) for a 3-1 marathon lead.
Oxford hung tough as Erin Law scored on a penalty stroke to cut the deficit to 3-2.
With 19:30 left in the match, Bliss notched her first goal with Kelley Braman assisting. Bliss and Malmberg each tallied again to close out the scoring.




Bramhall sets pace as Homer takes 2nd

VERONA — Homer Central girls made a strong opening statement at the Vernon-Verona-Sherrill Cross-Country Invitational Saturday.
Jessica Bramhall led three Trojans girls into the Top 10 and helped her team post a second-place team finish with 49 points. Only Canastota (36 points) finished ahead of Homer in the team standings.
New Hartford boys were also team winners with 54 points while Homer made a solid fifth-place showing.
Canastota runners Allison Lasnicki (20:46) and Robbie Argentine (17:35) were the individual winners.
“All five girls ran very well,” said Homer coach Jim Baldwin. “Their performance provided a great snap shot of where the Homer girls’ cross-country team is at this stage of the season.  Homer’s top three runners made strong statements today and, if they can help bring the performance of our number four and five runners up, we could be a force in Section Three this year.
“The girl who made the biggest statement is Jessica Bramhall,” Baldwin continued. “She logged an enormous amount of miles this summer and that hard work paid off today taking second place. I think her performance surprised herself. Caitlin McMahon demonstrated her mental and physical toughness running in our number two spot and a strong kick put her in fifth place overall.”
Bramhall posted a runner-up time of 21:33 while McMahon was clocked in 21:58. Heather Wilson (22:15) placed sixth, followed by Laura Niederhofer (17th) and Megan Harmon (24th).
“Andrew made a statement to claim our number one runner spot,” said Baldwin. “However, without his strong kick, Jackson Randolph would have finished as our number one runner. This year could be very exciting to watch as Andrew and Jackson push each other throughout the season to claim that number one spot. It will help make our entire team that much stronger as they pull the team up with them.
“The biggest surprise of the day goes to the performance of Josh Bergmark, who dropped five and one-half minutes off his time from last year to claim our number four spot,” Baldwin added. “Jacob Weber made a great debut as a freshman running in our sixth position.  The season has just begun and the Homer boys are confident that this year will be an improvement upon last season. Their motivation is at a higher level than ever before, and you can see how much their efforts of the past few weeks have paid off.”