By Frank Rizzo
LIVINGSTON MANOR September 12, 2000 With both offenses taking a holiday, Livingston Manor coach Scott Branning had a bad premonition when a sure touchdown went right through Ryan Edwards hands in the end zone.
By the end of Saturdays 6-0 non-league loss to visiting Liberty, Branning had even more to worry about: his top offensive weapon, quarterback Ryan Carlson, was out with a concussion, and senior lineman Gary Appenauer had badly injured his wrist. Carlson was treated at Community General Hospital and released that same day.
Mike Pojes two field goals accounted for all the scoring.
Carlson began Manors best chance to score when he corralled a pass from Liberty quarterback Vince Evans and returned it to the Indian 30 with 4:51 left in the first half.
Carlson, on a keeper, reached the 17 on the ensuing play but Liberty stiffened and three plays later the Wildcats faced fourth-and 11 from the 15.
Carlson rolled to his right and lofted a pass to Edwards, who had beaten the coverage deep in the corner. Inexplicably, the ball went right through his hands.
He was worried about stepping out of bounds, Branning explained later.
Besides that near-TD, neither team had came within sight of the end zone in the first half.
Liberty finally put together a scoring march after forcing a punt on the Wildcats first possession of the third quarter.
Mike Poje retuned Scott Denmans punt to the Manor 49, and four plays later Randy Caruso went around left end for 15 yards to the Wildcat 15. The drive then stalled and on fourth-and-nine Poje, with Evans holding, split the uprights from 31 yards t the 4:07 mark.
It was on this Liberty drive that Carlson, apparently hit on the back of his head on a tackle, came out looking dazed. A short while later he was taken away by the Livingston Manor Ambulance Corps.
Edwards took the signal calling duties over, and as he put it after the game, Ive taken maybe 12 snaps in practice. [The game situation]is a lot different than running plays against the jayvee.
The Manor players kept looking with concern over at the bench where Carlson was covered up, waiting for the ambulance.
Branning had to remind his charges, Ryan isnt in the game its not the end of the world!
On its first possession without carlson at QB, Manor could not move the ball and had to punt.
The Indians subsequently moved from the Wildcat 44 to the 5 as the third quarter changed into the fourth. On second-and-goal from the 5 Poje apparently scored, diving over the endline, but a clipping call nullified the TD. Minutes later, on fourth-and-goal from the 16, Poje again came through with a field goal, this time at the 7:15 mark.
Manor had its next best chance when soph Travis Morton ran the ball 71 yards on a reverse to the Indian 9. The clock showed 2:31 left in the game as the Wildcats lined up for a first-and-goal.
Tom Ditmar made the saving tackle for Liberty.
That was a coachs cardiac arrest play, commented Liberty coach Mike Castillo. To their credit they caught us [napping] on that reverse.
On three plays, all run by Denman, they reached the 3. But on fourth-and-goal Denman was stopped and Liberty then ran out the clock.
I knew wed be in trouble when we faced that first-and-goal, said Branning. All we could run was those four fullback dives by Scott. We couldnt do anything else.
I give our defense a lot of credit, that goal-line stand was the game, Castelli noted.
Branning thought his team did reasonably well. If they didnt have the field goal kicker it would have been a 0-0 game
and we should have scored. I knew that the dropped pass would come back to haunt us.
In a larger sense, Branning also lamented the schedule, which pits his team against five Class C schools.
The Wildcats beat Class C Spackenkill 30-14 last week.
We just dont have the [manpower] to compete against C schools, he reflected. We got mauled today.
(The New York State figures show Manor with 157 students in grades 10-12, while the Liberty enrollment is 422.)
For the second week in a row I was disappointed in our offense, Castelli said of his defending Class C champions. But Pojes a real good kicker, thats why we went for the field goals and today it was the difference.
Notes: Poje led the rushing game with 37 yards on nine carries and also had 10 tackles. Joe Colacurcio and Nick Rusin each had 31 yards on seven carries
Evans completed 4-of-12 passes for nine yards and two interceptions
Carlson (eight carries) and Denman (14 attempts) each had 35 rushing yards for Manor. Carlson was 2-for-7 for 19 yards and one interception.