October 16, 2010
CHS responds to dump Fulton
Bob Ellis/staff photographer
Cortland High ball carier Alex Stacy (21) manages to keep his balance after getting past Fulton defenders Mark Aldasch (10) and James Marsh (39) Friday night at the SUNY Cortland Stadium Complex.
Dave Darrow was not happy.
Cortland High’s head football coach had seen his team, with a chance to finish undefeated in the Section 3 Class A American Division, roar to a 22-0 lead over Fulton in the first six minutes of a rain-soaked, windy and chilly clash at the SUNY Cortland Stadium Complex.
Then he saw the visitors rally back to make it 22-20 at halftime with senior quarterback Brett Williams running the veer option like clockwork and scoring three touchdowns.
Then Darrow was seeing red. And at halftime, his troops heard about it.
“I ripped on them,” he said when asked about his halftime reaction. “I don’t do it very often, so when I do they pay attention. They didn’t want to finish the game, and started making excuses. That’s not what a good team does.
“We worked all week at staying home on the option, but our outside linebackers still bit on the fullback, so no one was left on the quarterback. It was frustrating. I got on them, we fixed it and they played better in the second half,” he added.
The end result was a 48-20 Senior Night victory that earned the Purple Tigers sole possession of the league title with a 5-0 mark (5-2 overall), their first regular season championship since 1989.
Going in, they had already clinched a home playoff contest, which will come this Friday against Camden (3-4), the fourth place team in the A National Division. It will be a rematch of the Blue Devils’ 35-25 non-league home win on Sept. 10.
“We got complacent,” said senior tailback Alex Stacy, who picked up 190 yards on 18 carries with one touchdown and has now put 1,024 yards behind him on 115 totes this season, with five rushing touchdowns. “We have to keep our intensity. The coaches reminded us at halftime of how important the game as, and we came out for the second half knowing that we wouldn’t lose.
“Getting to 1,000 yards is great, but to be undefeated league champions, that’s something we’ve all worked for all summer. I couldn’t have done without I did without the team, and all the credit goes to them. I’d especially like to thank the offensive line and my dad ,” he added, referring to Rob Stacey.
CHS SCORED THE first three times it had the ball. It started just 1:21 into the game when, four plays into the drive after receiving the opening kickoff, junior tailback Jonathan Prior took a pitch from quarterback and classmate Devon Darrow on the right side, cut upfield and went 40 yards for a touchdown to make it 8-0 after Darrow found senior tight end Justin Tabel with the conversion pass.
Fulton fumbled the ensuing kickoff, junior tackle Kyle Teeter recovering at the Red Raider 20-yard line, and four plays later Darrow scored on a quarterback sneak, senior fullback Brian Strough adding the conversion run to make it 16-0 for CHS 2:40 in.
After Fulton went four-and-out, Cortland again needed just four plays to score, Darrow going left, getting outside and sprinting 45 yards to the end zone to make it 22-0 after a failed conversion run.
The visitors then took over the momentum, the key play a 70-yard scoring run by Williams two plays into their next possession as he went left, cut back right and sped home to make it 22-6 after the kick went wide. Williams then scored from 22 yards out with 7:13 left in the second, senior running back Donald Watson with the conversion to make it 22-14, and with 1:12 left before the half, Teeter flattening Watson on the conversion run to insure the hosts a slim halftime lead.
Then came the locker room fireworks during the intermission
“He yelled at us pretty good,” Devon Darrow said of his father’s halftime performance. Stacy noted that Strough and senior tight end-linebacker Justin Tabel also had some thoughts to share during the break.
It all worked out, thanks in large part to a couple of huge defense plays in the third quarter. Fulton received the kickoff to open the second half and needed five plays to go from its own 25 to the Cortland 28 in five plays. Watson then fumbled a pitch, senior linebacker Lucas Bush recovering back at the Purple Tiger 37. Four plays later Stacy went left, cut upfield and was gone on a 24-yard scoring run, Devon Darrow with the conversion run to make it 30-20 for the hosts 3:35 into the third.
“The kids came back in the first half, but when we lost that ball they didn’t want to play any more,” said Fulton co-coach Craig Halladay, his team finishing fifth in the six-team league at 1-4 and now 1-6 overall with a season-ending crossover game still to come. “They’d had enough at that point; they figured that their comeback in the first half was good enough. That’s kind of the way the season has been.
“Brett can play. He uses his speed running the veer and does a nice job. Donald is a solid back, but unfortunately dropped a couple of pitches or things could have been different.”
ANY SUSPENSE ABOUT the final outcome ended on Fulton’s second possession of the third quarter. This time it was Williams who fumbled after being hit by Teeter, “Owl” linebacker Tabel scooping the ball up at the 35 and going untouched into the end zone to make it 36-20 after the unsuccessful conversion run.
“Teeter came off the end through the line, hit him and just picked up the ball and ran,” Tabel said of his first TD of the season, to go with four conversion catches. (David) Fernandes (senior tackle) had a nice lead block, and I followed him the end zone.”
The play also provided some comic relief, as the official nearest the play lost his flag when his pants started falling down. “I looked back and saw the flag and said ‘Awwww,’” Tabel said with a laugh. “He said that it was all right, that he had just dropped his flag by accident.”
Fulton punted on each of its next two possessions, and Cortland finished out the scoring with two more TDs. Devon Darrow went in from a yard out with 1:46 left in the third before an unsuccessful conversion run and then hit senior wide receiver Justin Hogan with a six-yard scoring strike 2:41 into the fourth to make it 48-20 after an incomplete conversion pass.
Fulton lost fumbled on its next two possessions, senior linebacker Devaun Manley and junior cornerback Mark Phelps with the recoveries.
All told, the CHS defense held the Red Raiders to 36 rushing yards on 23 second-half carries after the visitors had picked up 246 ground yards in the first half, also on 23 carries.The Purple Tigers finished with 441 yards of total offense, 383 on the ground and 58 in the air as Devon Darrow completed 6-of-11 passes with the TD toss. Fulton finished with 327 yards of offense, a 45-yard hookup between Williams and Watson early in the third quarter the only air yards.
“The weather affected our passing a little, but we ran the ball well,” Devon Darrow said. “We were still on turf, and didn’t lose any speed.”
“This is what we’ve all worked toward,” Stacy said in reflecting on the league championship. “Now it’s happened, and it’s overwhelming. It’s great to be able to share it with people I’ve played sports with and been friends with since fifth grade. It’s amazing.”
“It’s amazing,” Tabel said, echoing his classmate. “I can’t put it into words. We’ve all worked so hard, and the seniors had to finish on a good note.”
TABEL WAS NAMED the Defensive Player of the game for the Purple Tigers, while Hogan won the Special Teams Award for three straight touchbacks on third-quarter kickoffs with the wind, and a fourth-quarter kickoff that went down to the one-yard line against the wind.
Dave Darrow gave the Offensive Player of the Game Award to the team’s seniors, including Stacy, Tabel, Strough, Bush, Hogan, Fernandes, Manley, Jordan Bowers, Nick Reynolds, Greg Congdon and Matt Hull.
All senior players and cheerleaders, and their parents, were honored in pre-game ceremonies, as were the CYB Small Fry players and coaches at halftime.
“The program is in good shape,” Darrow said. We won the league championship, the JVs can go undefeated if they win (today) and both modified teams are good.”
In addition to the Camden-Cortland game this Friday, the other first-round Class A games have American runner-up East Syracuse-Minoa hosting Watertown, the third-place National squad; National co-champ Indian River at home against American fourth-place finisher Mexico and Jamesville-DeWitt, the third-place American squad, visiting National co-champ Whitesboro (lost to Indian River head-to-head, deciding the top seed).
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