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To the Bitter End

Democrat Photo by Ted Waddell

SULLIVAN WEST RUNNING back Kevin Mullally reaches the endzone as James I. O’Neill’s Cullen McPeak chases him in Sunday’s Class C championship game. Unfortunately for Mullally and the rest of the Bulldogs, it was their only touchdown of the contest.

O'Neill Stops the Bulldogs

By Rob Potter
KINGSTON — November 13, 2001 – A year later, O’Neill returned the favor.
In the 2000 Section IX Class C championship game, Sullivan West overwhelmed James O’Neill by a 37-6 score to claim the sectional crown. And in Sunday’s title game at Dietz Stadium in Kingston, O’Neill held Sullivan West in check to post a 25-8 win.
O’Neill (6-4) moves on to face Edgemont in a regional game next weekend. Edgemont is the three-time defending Class C champion and has won 30 games in a row.
However, things started well enough for Sullivan West (7-4), which defeated O’Neill by a 38-28 margin during the regular season.
The Bulldogs took the opening kickoff and drove from their own 28-yard line to the O’Neill 16 on five running plays.
On first-and-ten, halfback John Compton broke threw the line and ran towards the endzone. But a hard hit by a defender knocked the ball from Compton’s grasp and Raider defensive back Raymond Brown recovered the ball.
As Sullivan West’s Steve Mootz tackled Brown near the goal line, the Bulldog players thought they had scored a safety. But the officials ruled that Brown was just out of the endzone and O’Neill had a first-and-ten at its own one-yard line.
An illegal procedure penalty on O’Neill moved the ball back a few inches. Tailback Matt Zielinski then swept to the right, turned the corner and raced down the sideline. Bulldog defender Matt Lanese tackled Zielinski at the 5-yard line, but three plays later Zielinski scored on a one-yard plunge to give the Raiders a 6-0 lead.
Sullivan West was forced to punt on its next possession and O’Neill added to its lead.
The Raiders capped a nine-play, 55-yard drive with a Jon Logan to Kyle Harris three-yard touchdown pass. The PAT kick was wide right, but O’Neill still had a 13-0 lead.
A 32-yard touchdown pass from Logan to tight end Martin Walker with just 1:35 left in the second quarter gave O’Neill a 19-0 lead.
The Bulldogs only touchdown of the game came with 6:03 remaining when senior tailback Kevin Mullally scored on a five-yard run. Mullally then ran in the two-point conversion.
Sullivan West never seemed to recover from that turnover early in the game.
“The fumble changed the whole game,” said Bulldog senior offensive tackle/defensive tackle E. T. Toledo. “If we had scored, it might have been a different ballgame.”
Fumble aside, the Bulldog defense could do little to slow down Logan, who was named the offensive MVP of the game. The senior signal caller completed eight of 10 passes for 183 yards and three touchdowns. He also ran for 43 yards.
(O’Neill’s Mike Miller, a junior defensive back, was chosen as the game’s defensive MVP.)
“He made a lot of great plays,” SW coach Ron Bauer said of Logan. “He’s a good passer and good athlete.”
Bauer noted that a shift in the position in the O’Neill linebackers helped the Raiders slow down the Bulldog offense.
Compton led the SW offense with 61 yards on 11 carries and Mullally rushed 17 times for 52 yards. Quarterback Jacob Sauer-Jones carried the ball four times for 10 yards and completed two of four passes for 41 yards.
“From the beginning of practice back on August 27, we worked on defending the wing-T offense,” O’Neill coach Ted Shramek said of Sullivan West’s favorite offensive formation. “Every week, the defense had to face it in practice. Today we were able to defend it better then we have ever before.”
Shramek noted that the rivalry the squads have built over the past two seasons has been beneficial.
“Playing Sullivan West has helped us grow as a team,” he said. “We work to match their quality of play and I admire the job Ron (Bauer) does with his kids.”
Though the Bulldogs, with 14 seniors on the roster, fell short in their bid to be back-to-back Class C champions, Bauer noted the accomplishment of making it back to the title game.
“I’m proud of the guys,” Bauer said. “They’ve played two years of very good football.”

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