October 25, 2008
Whitesboro shuts down CHS attack
Purple Tigers blanked 21-0 in Class A playoffs
Joe McIntye/staff photographer
Cortland High’s Dyquann Barlow (1) evades Whitesboro tacklers Nick Mauro (3) and Matt Morocso (41) in the fourth quarter of Friday’s Class A quarterfinal round playoff game. Visiting Whitesboro blanked the Purple Tigers, 21-0.
The better team won this one.
That was the prevailing sentiment among the Cortland High football coaching staff Friday night in the wake of the Purple Tigers’ quick exit from the Section 3 Class A playoffs, 21-0 at the hands of some fired-up and rugged Moiseichik Field visitors from Whitesboro.
“We were a little out-manned,” Cortland head coach Dave Darrow said in assessing the damages afterwards, his team now 6-2 overall. “They play a really tough schedule, and our kids played hard and well. But we didn’t quite have the tools to score on them, which was apparent from our offensive stats.”
Cortland was held to 92 total yards, including just 21 on the ground on 27 carries.
“We game-planned perfectly for them, but we couldn’t block their inside kids and they have good linebackers who fly to the ball. We pulled out everything we had. Sometimes you just play someone better,” added Darrow.
“I think our defense played very well,” said Tom Murphy, the CHS defensive coordinator. “It was our best defensive effort all year. They did everything we thought they would do. We lost to a better team. The kids played their hearts out, but what was the time of possession?”
The Warriors, who evened their record at 4-4 after finishing the season third in the Class A National Division, dominated that aspect of things as well, having the ball for 30:48 to just 17:12 for Cortland. The Purple Tigers ran a grand total of 34 plays in the game as the visitors owned the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball. With the Purple Tiger defense worn down and the bread-and-butter running game ineffective, the end result was inevitable.
“We have tough kids who play with a lot of guts,” Murphy said. “They do everything we ask them to do, and listen well. We gave Whitesboro all we had, and lost to a better team. They’re bigger and a little more physical, but they’re not any tougher than our kids.”
“Cortland has a solid, well-coached club, and we’re happy to beat them,” an elated Whitesboro coach Tom Schoen said after earning his 201st career win (with 107 losses and four ties) in 35 years at the helm of the Warriors. “We have a very, very difficult division, very physical. We needed the kids to come in here and play, and they did. We needed a great defensive game, and got it. When you can play defense like that in a playoff game, you’re going to do well.”
How good was the visitors’ defense?
The stats speak for themselves, as Cortland’s offense crossed midfield only once in the game, getting down to the Warrior 20 on its first possession of the fourth quarter after having the ball for only one three-and-out series in the third. The hosts, already down 14-0, were stopped short on fourth down there, senior tailback Brandon Fitzgerald sweeping right and being forced out of bounds (and injuring a knee on the play) before he could attempt a pass.
CHS PICKED UP 44 of its 71 passing yards in that series, as senior quarterback Matt Porter connected with junior tight end Caleb Wright and Fitzgerald on a pair of 22-yard tosses. The hosts’ longest completion, a 23-yarder from Porter (4-for-7 on the night with no interceptions) to senior tailback Corby Reynolds, came on the hosts’ last series with the issue already settled. Senior fullback Josh Morehouse’s 24-yard rush midway through the first quarter was Cortland’s longest play of the game.
Two plays after CHS’s longest drive bogged down, Whitesboro junior halfback Nick Mauro got around the right corner with a pitchout, found a seam and out-legged the Cortland defense on a 68-yard touchdown run that closed out the scoring after Cody Passalaqua’s third conversion kick of the game.
“I actually was a little confused on the play, on the second cadence,” Mauro said with a grin. “I got the ball late, and when a hole opened up I just hit it hard and was able to do well. We’ve been working hard in practice, and the line has improved a lot.”
Mauro was the winners’ workhorse, lugging the ball 23 times for 115 yards and the TD. “Nick shares time with (senior) Jordan Smith, who is hurt and couldn’t go tonight,” Schoen said. “Tonight he did what he’s supposed to do.”
The first quarter of the contest was scoreless, the Warriors losing the ball on downs at the Cortland 17 on their first possession after Cortland went three-and-out to start the game. Whitesboro got the ball back with 2:51 left in the opening stanza and scored five plays into the second quarter, senior fullback Matt Tutino crashing in from two yards out.
The visitors led just 7-0 at halftime, but left no doubt as to their dominance, and pretty much settled the issue, after taking the second-half kickoff. They took 6:09 to cover 70 yards in 12 plays, capped by another two-yard TD by Tutino and Passalaqua’s second conversion kick.
“When we get down to the goal line, we need to play smash-mouth football,” Tutino said. “Once I got the ball, I just moved my legs; all of our running backs know what we have to do to get in there. After losing the last two weeks, everyone worked hard in practice this week. We realized it’s playoff time.
“Coming in at 3-4, a lot of people said Whitesboro isn’t the team it has been in the past. We wanted to show that we’re still the Big Blue Wrecking Crew and keep going.”
“Tutino is one of the better people I’ve ever been associated with,” Schoen said. “He’s tough, and does a lot of it on guts. He played two games for us this year on an injured ankle that would have kept anyone else home.”
CORTLAND COACHES gave out two awards after the game, with senior middle linebacker Jake Bryson, who had a team-high 15 tackles, earning Defensive Player of the Game honors and senior guard Mitch Fitts garnering the lunch bucket given weekly to the outstanding offensive lineman.
Cortland is in limbo as to who it may play in a season-ending crossover next weekend, that match-up to be decided at a sectional coaches’ meeting on Sunday. Whitesboro, meanwhile, will face Camden, 42-6 winner over Jamesville-DeWitt Friday, at a neutral site in the upcoming Class A semifinals. The Blue Devils, now 5-3, beat the visiting Warriors 35-21 last Friday with the top A National seed at stake.
“The kids are anxious to face Camden again. They’ve got some extra incentive,” Schoen said. “They got up 28-7 at the half on us last time, but the second half was a different story. We got it back to 28-21 before they scored again. I don’t like losing to someone twice in a season.”
“I’ll say,” Tutino said when asked if he and his teammates were glad to get another crack at Camden. “They got us on their senior night the first time. We know what we have to do, and after enjoying this one tonight we’ll get back to work in the morning. We want to come back and show people that it wasn’t really us in the first game.’
The A National ended up winning three of Friday’s four first-rounders. Visiting New Hartford (5-2) handed A American champion East Syracuse-Minoa its first loss in seven games this season, 28-6, and will meet Fulton in the other neutral-site A semifinal this coming weekend. The Red Raiders (4-4) were the only American Division winner, outlasting host Carthage (5-3), the defending A champion, 14-6.
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