September 20, 2008
CHS earns big chunk of respect
Thumps Fulton 21-6 to stay unbeaten
Joe McIntyre/staff photographer
Led by Cortland High’s Corby Reynolds, (34) and trailed by Fulton defender Nick Millard (64), Dyquann Barlow returns the opening kick-off for a touchdown on the opening play of Friday’s 21-6 Purple Tigers victory.
The Cortland High football team won its biggest game in years Friday night.
Next up: an even bigger one.
The Purple Tigers limited Fulton to just 52 yards of total offense, all on the ground, and beat the perennial Section 3 Class A American Division powerhouse 21-6 at Moiseichik Field. Now 2-0 in the league and 3-0 overall for the first time in recent memory, the Purple Tigers are one of just two undefeated league teams at this early juncture.
The other unbeaten is East Syracuse-Minoa (also 2-0 and 3-0), which CHS will visit at 6:30 p.m. this Friday.
“I think we’re a pretty good team,” an obviously pleased Cortland coach Dave Darrow said, enjoying a review of the game tape as he spoke. “We don’t get much respect, but we just took the game from Fulton — that’s all there is to it. They crushed us last year (53-13 at Fulton) and poured it on besides. We did a nice job of executing our game plan. The kids earned this one.”
It took the Purple Tigers only 15 seconds to establish control of the contest, as junior Dyquann Barlow took the opening kickoff at the CHS five-yard line, went to his right and cruised untouched and unthreatened up the sideline for a touchdown. Senior Matt Porter tacked on the first of his three conversion kicks on the night, and the Purple Tigers had all the points they’d end up needing.
Barlow came up huge again two series later, taking a pitch and sweeping left on an option reverse, then exploding past a pair of Fulton defenders who looked to have him boxed in 10 yards from the end zone to complete what ended up being a 52-yard scoring run.
“On the kickoff return, I had good blocks set up, saw an opening and went full speed,” said Barlow, who won both the Offensive and Special Teams Player of the Game awards, as determined by the Purple Tiger coaching staff. “On the option reverse, I just went hard to get to the end zone. Two of their guys had an angle on me, but I accelerated and got by them.”
Another standout for the winners was senior fullback Josh Morehouse, who picked up 67 yards on 17 carries, a good third of that total while moving piles of players from both teams in what resembled rugby scrums.
“Fulton is always a tough team,” he said with a huge grin. “No one beats them in wrestling, and we haven’t beaten them in football (since moving up to Class A in 2002). But we all worked hard, and got what we wanted. There was talk on the internet that I couldn’t run, and my friends printed it out and gave it to me. I proved I could run, and we’re all so pumped to be 3-0.”
ONCE CORTLAND’S lead got to 14-0, it was all a matter of stopping Fulton’s offense, and defensive coordinator Tom Murphy’s unit was more than up to the task. The winners rolled up 190 yards of total offense in the contest, all but 22 yards of it on the ground (the lone pass from quarterback Porter to Barlow on the second scoring drive), while the Red Raiders, after picking up 45 yards on 18 carries in the first half, were limited to just seven yards on 11 totes over the final two quarters.
“Fulton is a good team, and we have respect for their program,” Murphy said. “We watched the film of last year’s game a lot, and our system is beginning to mature. The kids are starting to learn and get into our alignments properly. We have a lot of respect for D.J. Ingham (the Red Raiders’ senior fullback), and Kyle Coe (senior quarterback) can also run.
“But Ingham’s their pulse, and they go through him. We were having a bit of trouble in the second quarter and called a timeout, and the kids regrouped and stuck together. They came together as a unit, and I was proud of the way they played.”
Ingham shredded the Purple Tiger defense last year, picking up 168 yards on 16 carries and scoring three rushing TDs and another on a pass reception. This time around, he managed just 26 yards on nine carries for the game.
“It felt good,” Morehouse said of once again besting Ingham, who he beat 12-5 last winter for the 215-pound championship at the sectional Class A wrestling tournament. “I was supposed to lose to him in the wrestling sectionals, and it was a shock to some people that I won.”
The CHS defense’s shining moment came late in the first half. Fulton had scored its only points on a 27-yard run by senior halfback Vinnie Martinez midway through the second quarter, and a bad snap on a punt set the Red Raiders up on the Cortland 17 some three minutes later.
After the timeout that Murphy referred to, Martinez gained two yards on first down before senior tailback Ed Marsh was stuffed for a one-yard loss. Linebacker Corby Reynolds then blew through on third down and sacked Coe for a nine-yard loss, and a mishandled pitch on fourth down resulted in another nine-yard loss as Cortland took over at its own 34. The Purple Tigers had the ball the rest of the half, reaching the Fulton 25 before bogging down.
The visitors got the ball to open the second half, and Coe was swarmed for no gain on a fourth-and-one from the Red Raider 39 to end their first series, and their hopes of winning.
“IT DIDN”T MATTER, we just got beat up on both sides of the ball,” an obviously-dejected Fulton coach Mike Conners said when asked afterwards about his thoughts on going for it under the circumstances. “We don’t know what to do at this point. We’re young and not very tough. We just got beaten up by a better football team tonight.”
Conners demurred when asked his thoughts on the Cortland-ES-M contest, the Red Raiders having fallen to the visiting Spartans last week 10-7 on a last-second field goal.
“Cortland played tough and mugged us,” he said. “We’ve gotten worse by the day. If we picked up 45 yards in the first half, it was about 45 more than we managed in the second half. The defense played hard, but we’re just awful right now.”
After the Cortland defense’s stand to open the second half, the Purple Tigers covered the 40 yards in 10 plays for their final score of the night. The drive was kept alive when a Fulton interception at the Red Raider 10 was negated by a roughing the passer call that may have been aided by the CHS staff’s protestations about the lack of a similar call on the final play before intermission as porter got decked late.
In any event, senior tailback Reynolds, who led all rushers with 79 yards on 18 carries, swept left untouched for seven yards and a touchdown.
Two untimed plays due to penalties on Cortland (for an illegal block and aiding the runner) extended the third quarter a bit, and when junior Jeff Crofoot took over behind center for Fulton he was intercepted on his first two passing attempts. The pickoffs were made by junior cornerback Jordan Prior and senior free safety Brandon Fitzgerald, the latter the Cortland coaches’ pick for Defensive Player of the Game.
The other Purple Tiger game award, a lunch pail for the top offensive lineman, went to senior guard Travis Block.
Now on to ES-M.
“We’ve got a bunch of kids who work hard,” Morehouse said. “It’s going to be tough this Friday, but if we want it we can get it.”
“We brought our ‘A’ game today, and it’s going to be tougher next week,” Barlow said. “But we’re not scared of anything. We’ll continue to work hard in practice, and hopefully do the same thing against ES-M.”
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