Democrat Photo by Frank Rizzo
LIBERTY QUARTERBACK VINCE Evans is about to hand the ball off to Nick Rusin (21) as Joe Colacurcio (20) leads the blocking in Saturdays 19-18 win over Spackenkill.
Liberty Edges Spackenkill
By Frank Rizzo
LIBERTY October 10, 2000 Picking up where the Class C championship game left off last November, host Liberty and Spackenkill engaged in another down-to-the-wire nailbiter on Saturday, with the Indians edging the visiting Spartans 19-18.
Cornerback/wide receiver Chris Winters, burned for a go-ahead TD minutes earlier, gathered a 40-yard halfback option pass from Mike Poje and waltzed untouched into the end zone with 28 seconds left for the winner.
(Back in November, Liberty edged Spackenkill 13-12 at Kingstons Dietz Stadium to win its first Class C championship. The Indians stopped a two-point conversion attempt with 30 seconds left to preserve the win.)
On Saturday, Spackenkill showed it was better than its 14 record coming in, jumping out to a 12-0 lead in the first half before Liberty answered with a late second-quarter score to put itself back into contention.
The visitors struck on their first possession, as QB James Siegrist connected with streaking receiver Richie White for a 51-yard score at 7:32. The PAT kick was blocked.
On its next series of downs, Spackenkill seemingly scored when Mike Ramirez ran it in from his 47 on a reverse, but a clipping penalty nullified it.
An inspired Spartan defense stopped the Indians cold and got the ball back at the beginning of the second quarter.
Spackenkill then marched inexorably 65 yards for the score, with Ramirez taking it for another six at the 6:32 mark. The two-point conversion failed.
Liberty used up most of the rest of the half to put a 6 on its side of the scoreboard. The 67-yard, 5:27 drive culminated at the 56-second mark, when Vince Evans hit Todd Davis for a seven-yard TD connection.
Mike Pojes PAT attempt glanced off the post.
Liberty kicked off to start the third, stopped the Spartans, then got the ball back at its 36 with 10:17 left. Five minutes and eight second later, Evans lofted a perfect leading pass to Tom Ditmar along the sideline, and he corralled it for a 25-yard score with 5:09 left.
Poje split the uprights to give Liberty its first lead, 13-12.
The Indians momentum seemed to continue when they stopped Spackenkills next drive on four downs, but then immediately gave up the ball on a fumble.
Twelve plays later, facing a fourth-and-four at the Liberty 14, Siegrist arced a ball deep in the corner. The pigskin sailed just over Winters fingertips and into the waiting arms of Richie White.
Liberty stopped the two-point attempt, but the visitors had regained the lead, 18-13, with 7:05 showing on the clock.
Libertys winning drive was a textbook example of ball control and time consumption.
Starting at their 16, the Indians took 11 plays and 6:37 to score.
Among the key plays in this drive: Joe Colacurcio gaining a first down on a third-and-three from his 23; and Nick Rusin making a first down on a third-and-one from his 48.
Liberty made its task difficult when a procedure penalty turned a fourth-and-inches at the Spackenkill 35 into a fourth-and-5 at the 40.
Thats when Poje took the ball and began to run, bringing the secondary in, then stopped and completed his third pass of the year (on his third attempt) to Winters, standing with no Spartan player within 10 yards of him.
[My secondary] bit on it, said Spackenkill coach Paul Valli. We expected them to pass, but not do that.
Liberty coach Mike Castelli noted that we saw a matchup we could take advantage of, regarding the halfback option play.
If we execute, its a great call. If not, you look foolish, he added apropos the call.
Castelli said his players did not take the Spartans lightly.
Theyre improving every week and its become quite a rivalry, Castelli said of the Spartans. We expected a hard-hitting game.
Our game plan was to mix it up, running inside and outside, but they only gave us the middle and we kept running it there, he added.
Rusin led Liberty with 63 yards on 10 carries and Colacurcio added 12 carries for 60 yards.
Siegrist had 156 passing yards for the