By Frank Rizzo
ROSCOE October 24, 2000 The artificial surface of Kingstons Dietz Stadium, site of the Section IX football championship games, was close enough to smell for the Roscoe Blue Devils.
All they needed to do was beat visiting Tri-Valley on Saturday, and a spot in the Class D championship tilt their first since 1995 was theirs.
But all turned out to be nothing, as a rapidly improving Bear squad prevailed 28-14 to dim, if not extinguish Roscoes hopes.
Mathematically, were still in it, said Roscoe coach Fred Ahart afterwards, but
Roscoe finished the Class D campaign 12. Tri-Valley is 11, while Livingston Manor is 02. If Manor beats the Bears next week it will create a three-way tie behind regular season champ Millbrook (30).
The but is this: the next tiebreaker that comes into play is points allowed, and here Roscoe is at a disadvantage, having given up 75 in its three Class D games. See related story this page.
Brian Ballard, who was to prove Mr. Offense for Roscoe this afternoon, dove on and snared a squibbly ball kicked off by Brandon Cheek to give the Blue Devils possession on the Tri-Valley 37.
Ballard immediately followed his blockers on a sweep to the 19, but four plays later, on a fourth-and-one, Durk Pearston penetrated to stop Brian Ryder short of the first down.
This momentum-changing play launched the Bears on a steady march which ended at the Blue Devil 18. On second-and-seven QB Josh Lowitz stepped back to pass and was sacked by Brian Bury and the ball sprung loose and was corralled by Keith Buck.
From its 30, Roscoe took just three plays to score. Ballard carried the ball all three times, the last a 55-yard scamper around the right end and down the sideline. The two-point conversion failed, and the Blue Devils led 6-0 with 4:40 left in the opening quarter.
The Bears answered with a 15-play, 82-yard scoring march, capped by Durk Pearstons eight-yard run at 9:31. Ballard and Jeff Bury combined to block Pearstons PAT kick.
T-V forced a punt and Arthur Felder, who was to bedevil Roscoe this afternoon, returned it to the Blue Devil 26. Two minutes and 15 seconds later Pearston again punched it in from the Roscoe 1 to put his team ahead for good. Felders two-point run was stopped.
If you want to get to Dietz, nows the time to do it, Ahart told his assembled players before the ensuing T-V kickoff.
Robert McBride grabbed Pear-stons unexpectedly short blooping kick and returned it to the Roscoe 46. Ballard then streaked around left end to the Bear 28. Four plays later the T-V defense came up big, stopping Ryder on a fourth-and-2 at its 20.
Ryder, who entered the game 96yards short of 1,000 rushing yards for the season, was rendered ineffective early on by an ankle injury which sidelined him for two Roscoe possessions. He finished with 24 yards on 10 carries.
The Bears took over at their 20 with 3:02 left in the half, and scored 1:38 later when Felder weaved and bullied his way 53 yards for a score, leaving several Roscoe tacklers wondering how he had eluded their grasp.
Pearston scored the two-point conversion and the Bears had a commanding 20-6 lead with 1:24 remaining.
Roscoe showed true grit, scoring with 12 seconds left on a 26-yard pass from Shawn Hendrickson to Ballard. The quarterback then found Jeff Bury alone in the corner for two more points and the Roscoe contingent was buoyed as it closed the gap to 20-14 at the half.
The teams exchanged punts in the the third quarter, and on Pearstons boot perhaps the key play of the game occurred. Pearston had to punt from his end zone, and Ballard streaked in to grab the ball, with a potential big return in front of him. Instead, the ball bounced off him and was recovered by the Bears.
The visitors then put together a 65-yard scoring march, with Lowitz following his line for a one-yard plunge at 11:54 of the fourth quarter. Felder added two points on a run to complete the scoring.
Two possessions later the Blue Devils reached the Bear 15, but a holding penalty on first down put the ball back to the 34, and the offense never recovered.
We retooled our offense, which now is clicking and seems to be working, said T-V coach Max Stolzenberg. We changed our entire scheme, simplified our offense.
Stolzenberg noted that one of the keys was to stop Ryder, and I thought we did a good job of that today. We also had to be concerned with the screens and variations I knew Fred [Ahart] would throw at us.
Defensively, he added, Roscoe has been giving up rushing yards and we thought we could run against them.
This [win] gives [Tri-Valley] a big boost, Ahart acknowledged. They ran the ball well today. We certainly prepared for Durk [Pearston] and he did an outstanding job today, but the key was was other backs [Alex Pearston and Felder]. You have to give them credit for having a balanced attack.
Ahart thought that penalties hurt his team at several key junctures during the game.
You just cant allow several long drives like we did today, he said. We were up against a team which has been improving, and it is to Maxs credit that he was able to turn it around after starting 06.
The bears rushed 57 times for 362 yards, led by Felder (18/163), Durk Pearston (23/141), and Alex Pearston (13/61).
Notes: Ballard finished with 98 yards on 12 carries and caught four for another 61 yards
Hendrickson was 8/21 for 98 passing yards
Ryder, a junior, needs 72 yards against Spackenkill this Saturday to reach 1,000 for the season
Hendrickson, a senior, is 17 passing yards short of 1,500 for his career.