By Rob Potter
ELDRED October 10, 2006 The Eldred Yellowjackets took advantage of turnovers to overcome an early deficit and record a 37-7 victory on Saturday over the visiting Tri-Valley Bears in a non-league football game.
A 46-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Dustin VanLieu to running back Brendan Musa and subsequent extra-point kick by Alex Calabrese gave the Bears a 7-0 lead with 9:13 remaining in the first quarter.
From that moment on, however, only Eldred (5-1) put points on the scoreboard.
The Yellowjackets tied the game with 7:23 left in the opening quarter when senior quarterback Nick McCormick connected with Tom Compasso on a 34-yard TD pass and Phil Talley booted the ball through the uprights on the PAT kick.
About four minutes later, Eldred linebacker Stan Smith intercepted a VanLieu pass to give the Yellowjackets a first down at the Bears’ 43-yard line. Three plays later, running back Kevin Prunka scored on first-and-goal at the 2. The extra-point kick was wide left, but the Yellowjackets had a 13-7 advantage.
Less than a minute into the second quarter, Eldred’s Chris Leader reached the end zone on a 6-yard run to extend the home team’s lead to 19-7.
McCormick and Colley connected on another TD pass, this time for 33 yards, with 5:45 left in the second quarter.
T-V (4-2) moved to midfield on its ensuing possession, but the drive was stopped when McCormick intercepted a pass that was intended for wide receiver Max Fiedler.
McCormick then led the Yellowjackets on an 11-play scoring drive. He capped the drive by passing to Prunka for a 3-yard touchdown to give Eldred a 31-7 advantage with 35 seconds left until halftime.
The Bears received the second half kickoff and recorded one first down as they moved close to midfield. But on a fourth-and-four play, the ball popped loose and Eldred noseguard Hilton Johnson pounced on it.
The Yellowjacket offense needed little time to capitalize on the turnover.
On second down, Colley caught a 36-yard TD pass from McCormick which gave Eldred a commanding 37-7 lead.
Brian Henry picked off a pass with about five minutes left in the contest to stop a Bears’ drive.
McCormick completed 15-of-24 passes for 302 yards, with four TD passes. He was intercepted once by T-V’s Brendan Musa.
Prunka carried the ball 17 times for 70 yards and Johnson added 48 yards on nine rushes.
The Yellowjackets’ defense sacked VanLieu four times, recovered three fumbles and had three interceptions.
“I’m very proud of our guys today,” Eldred Coach Frank Kean said. “From the first play to the last play, we kept competing hard.”
As he spoke, Kean held a football in his hand. He said that he and his fellow coaches and the Eldred players would be signing the ball for Jesse Hammel, who suffered a broken leg during the Yellowjackets’ victory over Liberty the previous Saturday.
Kean also noted that he likes the way the Yellowjackets are stepping up, especially since the team ends the regular season with three straight games against fellow Class D teams.
“We’re working hard to reach the [sectional] playoffs,” he said.
Kevin Smith led the Bears with 41 yards on eight rushes and Musa added 24 yards on 12 carries. Musa also had two catches for 75 yards.
Pacing the T-V defense were Nick Cassidy and Garrett Grey, who each made 12 tackles on the afternoon.
“Eldred did an outstanding job today,” T-V Coach John Rusin said. “They are a well-disciplined, well-coached team.
“You can’t give a good team like that extra opportunities,” he continued. “We made some mistakes and they took advantage of them.”
Although disappointed with the loss, Rusin was quick to point out that his team’s goal is to win the Section IX Class C title.
Currently the Bears are 1-0 in Class C competition and following a non-league contest versus Chester this Saturday, October 14, they will finish the regular season with games against Class C foes Sullivan West and Pine Plains.