September 24, 2011
More CHS frustration
ES-Minoa turns momentum around to post 53-20 victory
Bob Ellis/staff photographer
Qwuhail Barlow (1) of Cortland High follows the block of Dillion Knecht as he avoids Ryan Wiggins (25) of East Syracuse-Minoa on this touchdown reception from Devon Darrow Friday night at Moiseichik Field. Visiting ES-M prevailed, 53-20.
Things were looking pretty good for the Cortland High football team Friday night for Homecoming, in its first game on the turf field of the newly-renovated Moiseichik Field.
An early second-half recovery of an East Syracuse-Minoa fumble by junior lineman Corey Brown had set the Purple Tigers up on their own 31-yard line. From there senior quarterback Devon Darrow and classmate Qwuhail Barlow, a wideout, had promptly hooked up on a 69-yard touchdown pass-and-run play to pull CHS to within one, at 21-20, after the failed conversion.
After having given up a late first-half touchdown to lose the lead for the first time, CHS had regained the momentum.
Or so it seemed.
ES-M senior running back Jordan Barton took the ensuing kickoff back 47 yards to the Cortland 38, and the Spartans went on an eight-play drive that culminated with Barton scoring from 10 yards out to make it 28-20 after senior Bob Campese’s conversion kick. From there, ES-M never looked back, scoring three more TDs down the stretch — two on interception returns — and holding Cortland scoreless the rest of the way to come away with a 53-20 victory.
“To get to within 21-20 and then give up 30 unanswered points...,” Purple Tigers coach Dave Darrow said in hushed tones afterwards, his team now 1-1 in the league and 1-3 overall, having lost its last three games. “We’d make some good plays, then make mistakes at key times. We had a hard time stopping anybody, and made some mistakes on offense, too. But they had us figured out pretty well.”
ES-M coach Kevin DeParde, whose team is now 2-0 in the league and 4-0 overall, noted that he liked the way his team reacted to the sudden shift in momentum that came from Cortland’s big scoring play.
“Our cornerback got sucked in and let Barlow get loose,” he said. “We weren’t rattled by it. The kids knew what had happened and were fine. We corrected it. This team is resilient and persistent; the kids know what they’re doing.
“Our defense took control. We played well defensively, but the offense was off-kilter all night,” DeParde added. “We came in with three turnovers on the season and lost four fumbles. I don’t know what happened, there was some trouble with snaps. But we also knew what we could do offensively. We scored 35 points against Cortland last year (in a 54-35 home loss) and have 10 starters back from that unit. We’re built to score points.”
PART OF THE foundations for the Spartans is Jordan Barton, who picked up 196 yards on 30 carries and scored a pair of TDs.
“We knew we were capable of doing this,” the senior tailback said. “We worked very hard for it. This is the most yards I’ve gained at the varsity level. Our line was blowing everyone off the ball, and I also got great blocks from the fullbacks. Everyone played a great game.
“I got a bit nervous when we got behind early and when they came back early in the second half, but I knew we’d pull things out. I know how this team deals with adversity. We knew Cortland would come back hard in the second half, and they did. After last year’s game, this is the best redemption in my life.”
As Barton noted, Cortland had the early advantage in the contest. That started, in fact, with the opening kickoff, which the Spartans fumbled, senior Mike Baldassarre recovering for CHS at the Spartan 25. Four plays later, Devon Darrow found senior tight end Dylan Stafford alone in the end zone and then hooked up with junior wideout Josh Gutchess on the conversion pass to give the hosts an 8-0 lead 1:35 into the game.
Barton capped the ensuing ES-M possession with a 14-yard TD run to make it 7-6 after Campese’s kick. The Spartans’ second fumble of the contest also cost them as Cortland senior linebacker Jonathan Prior returned it 23 yards for another TD to make it 14-7 CHS four minutes into the second quarter after the conversion pass went awry.
The visitors then did the rest of the first half scoring. Senior quarterback Tyler Johnson went 40 yards on a keeper with 5:50 left to tie it and then scored from five yards out with 26.2 seconds left, Campese adding both kicks as the Spartans took a 21-14 lead into intermission.
AFTER THE TEAMS exchanged the aforementioned third-quarter TDs, the Spartans unleashed some big-play magic for 25 unanswered points in the fourth. Junior tailback Jeff McDuffie accounted for 18 of those points, rambling 63 yards to the end zone just 1:07 into the stanza and then going in from 18 yards out with 4:32 left and capping things off with a 75-yard interception return 26 seconds later. Junior linebacker Sam Pascarella got into the act with a 33-yard interception-return TD 55 seconds after McDuffie’s first score. Campese’s kick after that score was the only successful fourth-quarter conversion, including a blocked kick by Prior.
“I just read the quarterback and followed my blockers on the interception return,” said McDuffie, who picked up 110 yards on seven carries from the tailback spot with the two rushing TDs. “I just followed my blockers on the runs. Scoring late in the first half was big; all the momentum was going our way. This was redemption for us from last year, big-time. I wasn’t surprised by it, because we’ve been working hard and pushing ourselves to the limit.”
The winners rolled up 424 yards of offense to 277 for Cortland, led by the running of Barton and McDuffie as the Spartans had 398 rushing yards on 52 carries on the night. Prior picked up 108 yards on 24 carries from the tailback position to pace the Cortland offense, while Devon Darrow went 9-for-23 passing for 143 yards with the two TDs and three interceptions.
“We don’t have a lot of time left,” coach Darrow said. “We have to make something happen pretty soon. We’re at a crossroads. Either we pull together, play hard and make something happen or we do what we’ve been doing. We have to improve.”
The Purple Tigers step out of league play to visit rival Homer Central at 7 p.m. this Friday, then visit winless Fowler in a 1 p.m. start Oct. 8 at Corcoran’s field before closing out the regular season by hosting Jamesville-DeWitt Oct.14 in a game that gets underway at 7 p.m.
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