October 13, 2007


Purple Tigers romp into playoffs

Fowler falls 50-0 at CHS


Bob Ellis/staff photographer
Cortland High’s Josh Morehouse runs the ball up the middle through a hole created by Camerin Edgar (left) and Brad Rogers (right) Friday night at Moiseichik Field, where the Purple Tigers beat Fowler 50-0.

Staff Writer

The Cortland High football team didn’t just open the door to the Section 3 Class A playoffs Friday night against visiting Fowler at Moiseichik Field.
The Purple Tigers ripped it off its hinges and walked in like they owned the place.
In a game that settled the fourth and final sectional berth from the Class A American Division, CHS rolled past Fowler 50-0. That upped the hosts’ record to 3-3 in the league (3-4 overall). Host Mexico drubbed Chittenango 41-12 to clinch third in the A American at 4-2. The Falcons and Bears both finished at 2-4 in league play and will be involved in crossovers starting this weekend.
For Cortland, though, it’s onto Route 81 North for the long trip to Carthage this Friday to face the Class A National champs in the first round of the sectionals. In whipping Watertown 41-0 Friday, the Comets — coached by SUNY Cortland grad Sam Millich — finished 6-0 in league play and are now 7-0 overall.
Still, for the Cortland High coaches, players, parents and fans Friday night, that was all something to be considered after savoring the program’s first trip to sectionals since 2004. That appearance, ironically, ended in a loss at Carthage.
Asked if he was surprised at the margin by which his team won, Coach Dave Darrow said: “We’re getting better. The kids are starting to believe. This was our game to make a statement, get a little pride going. The kids are starting to get a little edge to them. This is all a good start for next year.”
The Purple Tigers’ head man had pointed to his team’s ability to limit Fowler’s big plays as a key to winning, while Fowler coach John Natoli had stressed turnover ratio, and his team’s problems in that regard.
Both men turned out to be prophets.
Cortland was able to limit the Falcons to just 89 yards of total offense, largely by holding junior tailback Keyron Rhodes to just 79 yards on 18 carries. The visitors, meanwhile, lost three fumbles and had a pass intercepted, while Cortland didn’t commit any turnovers en route to 277 yards of total offense, 241 of that on the ground.
“The field was soft, which was to our advantage,” Darrow said with the hint of a smile. “We’re also trying to build school pride and a football culture, and you need to play on your own field to do that, so it was important mentally for us.”
CHS WORE ALL purple, jerseys and pants, for the first time this season. It wasn’t necessarily a motivational tool, Darrow explained with a laugh, adding: “We’re wrecking the white pants.”
“Cortland got the momentum and ran with it, and we couldn’t recover,” Natoli said quietly. “They hit on all cylinders, and we didn’t hit on any. Offense, defense, special teams — they were flawless on each, and we had trouble with all of them.
“I said turnovers would be a huge key, and they were. We made a ton of mental mistakes, too, and Cortland came out and executed well. They did a great job.”
The Purple Tigers took control of the game early and never let the visitors from Syracuse into it. After receiving the opening kickoff, the hosts rolled down the field, covering 62 yards in six plays, the finale a 24-yard touchdown run by junior fullback Josh Morehouse. Senior Levi Walrath’s kick made it 7-0.
On Fowler’s first play from scrimmage, CHS junior outside linebacker Garrett Wyatt picked off a pass from Falcons senior quarterback Frankie Dwyer at midfield and returned it to the visitors’ 29.
Cortland got to the Fowler 16 before losing the ball on downs, and a bad punt snap on the ensuing Fowler possession gave Cortland the ball on the visitors’ 28. Morehouse capped off a seven-play drive with a five-yard TD run 1:14 into the second quarter, Walrath’s kick making it 14-0, and added his third TD of the game from three yards out midway through the second quarter.
Another bad punt snap and subsequent kicking of the loose ball out of the end zone by Fowler made it 23-0 Cortland 1:12 before halftime, and after receiving the ensuing free kick Cortland made it 30-0 at the half, senior quarterback A.J. Meldrim and junior back Brandon Fitzgerald combining on a 13-yard pass-and-run play for a TD, Walrath again up to the conversion task.
CORTLAND SCORED on three of its first four possessions in the second half — all in the second quarter — for the final margin. Fitzgerald’s five-yard sweep around the right side made it 37-0 after Walrath’s fifth kick just under two minutes into the third quarter. Coty Cute then scored the final two TDs, both set up by Fowler fumbles (recovered by junior middle linebacker Jake Bryson and linebacker Fitzgerald). He scored from three and seven yards out, Walrath’s kick after the first one blocked before he nailed the second for the final margin late in the third.
“Our goal this week was to shut down Rhodes,” Cortland defensive coordinator Tom Murphy said, praising fellow assistant coaches Pete Reif and Dan Pitcher with the job they did prepping the linebackers and secondary. “We moved more than 25 kids in and out during the course of the game, and everyone did a good job moving to the ball. Bryson played well, (senior tackle) Matt Pitcher is always tough on the line, Wyatt and (senior linebacker-safety) Nate Thomas (fumble recovery on Fowler’s final possession) played well and (senior cornerback) Lane Day had a solid game, deflecting two passes and tackling well.
“This town is excited about football, which is nice to see. It’s also nice to see this group turning things around.”
All told, junior tailback Corby Reynolds led Cortland in rushing with 92 yards on 12 carries, while Morehouse lugged the ball 11 times for 68 yards and scored the three TDs. Meldrim completed 2-of-6 passes for 36 yards, including the scoring strike to Fitzgerald.
“I truly thought it would be a struggle right to the end,” Morehouse said. “I don’t think they expected us to come at them like we did. Everyone though Cortland wouldn’t do that well, but this year is a shocker. We’re surprising ourselves.”
“We were a little more intense; we wanted it,” Reynolds said. “But I didn’t think it would come that easy. We played really well and did great. We’ve come a long way with a lot of hard work, a lot of discipline and pride.
“WE CAME IN with a chance to make the playoffs, and took advantage of it,” Darrow said. “People told us we wouldn’t win a game; well, we’ve won three so far. Like I said, the kids are starting to believe; they could have been this good from the beginning, but they didn’t have an identity. It takes time.”
“I think we’re going to shock some people,” Fitzgerald said. “I think we’re playing well enough to go into Carthage and win.”
Reynolds was named Cortland Offensive Player of the game, while Bryson won the Junk Yard Dog Award as the top defensive player. The Special Teams Award was split between juniors Brian Foote and Cody Smith, both of whom were on the punt and punt return teams.




Groton nails down Division VII crown

GROTON — Ethan Tilebein ran over, under and through the Moravia defense during this special Homecoming football occasion for undefeated Groton Central Friday night.
Tilebein rushed for 214 yards and four touchdowns as the Indians locked up the Section 4 Division VII title with a convincing 40-16 win at Ross Field Friday night.
Groton is now 6-0 in the division and 7-0 overall and claimed the title regardless of the outcome of the game at Binghamton Seton Catholic next Friday. If the Indians were to lose to the Saints and Candor wins at Moravia, both teams would be 6-1 —but Groton has the tiebreaker with its win over Candor earlier in the season.
Tilebein bullied in from one-yard out and scooted 11 yards in the first quarter for a 13-0 lead after one successful Kyle Reed kick.
The lead grew to 21-0 by halftime when Tilebein broke free on a 64-yard run. Peter Jackson tossed a two-point pass to Cody Street.
Groton did not let up in the third quarter. Reed (five carries-42 yards) raced 36 yards for one TD and he then kicked the extra point, Jackson followed with a 20-yard interception return.
Trailing 34-0 in the third quarter, Moravia got on the board with a one-yard Dillon Langtry run. Langtry successfully completed the two-point conversion with a pass to Anthony Burgin.
Tilebein opened the fourth quarter with a 59-yard run romp to bolster the Groton advantage to 40-8.
Langtry closed out the scoring with a five-yard scoring strike to Greg Adams and a two-point pass to Greg Pasho. Langtry completed eight-of-19 passing attempts for 63 yards.
For the night, Tilebein rushed for more yards than the Groton defense gave up in total yards to Moravia. Including an 11-yard pass reception, Tilebein had 225 of the Indians 311 yards in total offense.
Groton will return to action Friday as the Indians travel to Binghamton Seton Catholic for 7 p.m. kickoff.
Waverly 28, Dryden 6: Doug Bushnell tossed a three-yard pass to Dale Riley during third-quarter action for the only Dryden High touchdown of the evening. Zach Smith led the visiting Purple Lion rushing attack with 17 carries for 70 yards.
Waverly quarterback Mark Kuzma rushed for 128 yards and four touchdowns to lead the Wolverines offensive attack.
Dryden will host Elmira Notre Dame Friday night at 7 p.m.




Cortland women stand alone in second

BROCKPORT — SUNY Cortland women are now alone in second place in the conference after securing a big soccer victory on the road Friday afternoon.
Senior Mandy Womelsdorf scored twice, while freshman Natalie Sloboda and senior Ilona Szotyori each netted a goal, as the Red Dragons beat Brockport 4-3 in a match-up of SUNY Athletic Conference contenders.
The Red Dragons improved to 7-5-1 with the win, and sits at 6-1-1 in the conference behind first place Oneonta.
Third place Brockport, ranked sixth in the New York Division III regional rankings, suffered only its second loss of the year. The Golden Eagles are now 10-2-1 overall and 5-2-1 in league play.
Brockport took a 1-0 lead in the 25th minute when Michele Cella converted a shot from the top of the box off a pass from Michelle Gibaud. In the 28th minute, Katie Trivisonno took a free kick that was deflected by Brockport’s goalie into the crossbar. Womelsdorf knocked in the loose ball to tie the game.
Womelsdorf struck again with 5:47 left in the first half when she took a pass from Cassie Kovac and put a shot past the Golden Eagles’ goalie. The hosts tied the game with just 22 seconds left in the half, however, as Gibaud headed in a pass from Annie Roberts.
Cortland grabbed the lead for good 18:50 into the second half when Sloboda’s long shot found its way through the goalie’s legs. Szotyori added what proved to be the game-winning tally about 12 minutes later when she knocked in a rebound for her first goal of the season.
Brockport closed to within 4-3 with 13:45 left on a tap-in by Jill Neidlinger off an Abby Smith crossing pass. The Golden Eagles pressured late for the tying goal but were turned away by the Red Dragon defense.
Cortland senior goalie Megan Thayer made four saves for the win. Both teams finished with 13 shots, with Cortland scoring on two of its three shots in the second half.
The Red Dragons return to action this afternoon at Geneseo, a 1 p.m. start.
Cortland Men Blanked
Though finishing with a shot advantage, SUNY Cortland men could not produce a goal in losing 2-0 to visiting Brockport Friday night at the SUNY Cortland Stadium Complex.
The Golden Eagles scored in each half to drop the Red Dragons to 4-4 in SUNYAC play and 8-5 overall.
The Golden Eagles improved to 6-2 in the conference, 8-3 overall.