By Rob Potter
ROSCOE October 2, 2001 After visiting Millbrook and Roscoe played evenly in the first half in Saturdays Class D football game, one had to wonder which team would seize an advantage in the remaining two quarters.
Millbrook wasted little time providing an answer. The Blazers took the second half kickoff and marched down the field on a 73-yard touchdown drive.
That drive, capped by a eight-yard run by tailback Billy Martini, gave Millbrook (40, 20 Class D) a 20-14 lead four minutes into the second half. The Blazers added another touchdown in the fourth quarter to post a 26-14 victory over the Blue Devils.
That was the key part of the game, Roscoe coach Fred Ahart said of that Millbrook march to the end zone. To their credit, they took the kickoff and drove down the field.
It appeared that Roscoe (22, 01 Class D) would answer the Millbrook touchdown when the Blue Devils embarked on a long drive at the end of the third quarter. Following a Millbrook punt, the Blue Devils took over at their own 11-yard-line. The running of Brian Ballard, Tim Haas and Bryan Ryder enabled Roscoe to move down to the Millbrook 14-yard-line with eight and a half minutes left in the contest.
(The key play on the drive was a reverse by Ballard on a third-and-two at the Blue Devil 19. He raced around the left end and gained 39 yards before a Millbrook defender could bring him down.)
A holding penalty on the Blue Devils took them back to the 21 and the next three plays only netted three yards. Faced with a fourth-and 17 play, quarterback Keith Buck threw the ball towards Ballard at the goal line. But Millbrook defensive back Eli Rogers jumped in front of Ballard and intercepted the pass.
Rogers returned the ball to the 25, giving his offense some breathing room. Millbrook took advantage of the Roscoe turnover immediately as Shaw connected with wideout Perry Owens on an 80-yard touchdown strike two plays later. Although the Roscoe defense stopped Martini short on the two-point try, the Blazers still had a 12-point lead with 4:35 remaining in the game.
Were very happy to come out of here with a win, Millbrook coach Denny Riva said. Roscoe is a good team. I have a lot of respect for Mr. Ahart, he does a super job of preparing his kids.
Riva added that he had warned his players last week that the Blue Devils were a good team and told the Blazers, who are the defending Section IX Class D champions, not to take them lightly.
They were definitely the aggressors in the first half, Riva said of the Blue Devils. In the second half, both teams were the aggressors. But we made a couple of plays defensively that made the difference.
As Riva noted, neither team gained much of an advantage in the first half.
When Millbrook opened the scoring on a 42-yard strike from Shaw to Anthony Cillis, Roscoe responded with a touchdown four minutes later. On a fourth down play, Millbrook punter Brendan Parsons bobbled the snap momentarily and two Roscoe defenders tackled him at the Roscoe seven. Ballard then swept around the right side of the line to paydirt on the next play to knot the score at 6-6 and Brandon Cheek kicked the PAT for a 7-6 Blue Devil lead.
But then it was Millbrooks turn to score, which the Blazers did when Shaw connected with Cillis again on a 42-yard touchdown pass to cap a seven-play drive. Martini added the two-point run for a 14-7 Millbrook lead.
Roscoe responded with a 18-play, 78-yard drive to tie the score before the halftime break. Ryder plunged into the end zone from a yard away to pull the Blue Devils within one and Cheek added the PAT to make it a 14-14 game.
Millbrook is a fine football team, Ahart said. I think we played them tough and our guys have nothing to be ashamed of. We just need to work on some things and step it up.
Notes: Martini paced the Millbrook ground game with 166 yards on the day. Ballard was the leading rusher for Roscoe, gaining 102 yards on 16 carries. Ryder added 42 yards on 12 carries. Like many New York area coaches such as New York Giants head coach Jim Fassel have done recently, Ahart wore an NYPD cap during the game to honor those city police officers, firefighters and emergency personnel working diligently in the aftermath of the World Trade Center attacks as well as the memory of those who did not survive. The cap belongs to his son-in-law Rob Bosland, a New York City policeman who is married to Aharts daughter, Michelle.