By Rob Potter
ROSCOE October 17, 2006 Playing under the lights on a chilly, Friday the 13th evening was not too scary for the Eldred football team.
Junior tailback Kevin Prunka led a strong rushing attack as the visiting Yellowjackets defeated the Livingston Manor/Roscoe Devilcats, 32-12, Friday night in a Section IX Class D game at Roscoe Central School.
With the win, Eldred improved to 6-1 overall and 1-0 in Class D competition. LMR fell to 0-7 overall and 0-1 in Class D.
Prunka carried the ball 27 times and gained 196 yards as the Yellowjackets took a 14-0 halftime lead and went on to record the 20-point victory. Prunka scored three of Eldred’s touchdowns in the contest.
Following a scoreless first quarter, the Yellowjackets began the second quarter with a first-and-goal at the Devilcats’ 7-yard line. Prunka gained a few yards on that first down play, but Eldred was penalized for holding and moved back outside the LMR 20.
But three plays later, on a fourth-and-goal from the 2, Prunka went up the middle and stretched the football over the goal line for the first TD of the contest. Teammate Phil Talley booted the extra-point kick through the uprights to give the Yellowjackets a 7-0 advantage with 10:26 remaining until halftime.
Later in the period, Eldred’s Tom Compasso returned a punt about 20 yards to set up his team in LMR territory at the 32-yard line.
Eight plays later, Prunka scored on a 6-yard run. Talley again added the extra point to push the Eldred lead to 14-0 with 40 seconds left until intermission.
Early in the third quarter, the Yellowjackets added to their advantage. On a third-and-long play, Prunka went left, cut back over the middle. and then outran four Devilcat defenders to the end zone.
LMR’s Kelly Lackey blocked the subsequent PAT kick, which held the score at 20-0.
The Devilcats got on the scoreboard on their possession following Prunka’s third TD.
Lackey completed a 13-play, 66-yard drive with a 4-yard touchdown run with 3:26 left in the quarter.
However, Eldred’s Nic Simonelli tackled Mike Miesner short of the goal line to deny the Devilcats the 2-point conversion after Lackey’s TD.
The Yellowjackets answered the LMR touchdown with a TD of their own just three minutes later. On a fourth-and-11 play, Eldred quarterback Steven Geiger threw a pass to Sean Colley at the goal line to push the Yellowjackets’ advantage to 26-6.
LMR responded with another long scoring drive, this time a 16-play, 82-yard march to the end zone. Seth Darbee caught a 7-yard touchdown pass from Schmidt with 7:35 remaining in the fourth quarter to pull the Devilcats within two TDs at 26-12.
But the Yellowjackets’ 10-play, 45-yard scoring drive on their subsequent possession pushed the lead back to 32-12. Senior fullback Hilton Johnson completed the successful drive with a 2-yard run with 2:40 remaining.
A minute later, Compasso intercepted a pass near midfield to end LMR’s final possession.
In addition to Prunka’s nearly 200 yards on the ground, Johnson carried 20 times for 48 yards as Eldred ran the football on nearly every play.
Geiger, Johnson and Prunka led the Yellowjackets’ defense as they each recorded a team-high six tackles.
“They always play us tough,” Eldred Coach Frank Kean said of the Devilcats. “We were able to grind it out and get the win.”
Kean noted that Geiger “did a great job” filling for senior Nick McCormick, who is the team’s regular starting quarterback. In the previous week’s win against Tri-Valley, McCormick aggravated an injury and stayed on the sidelines during Friday night’s contest as a precaution.
“They did a great job out there tonight without Nick,” Kean said of his players. “I’m very proud of all of them.”
Kean and his players will now turn their attention to Chester, which is the only team that has defeated the Yellowjackets this season. At 2:30 p.m. this Saturday, October 21, Eldred will travel to Chester for a key Section IX Class D game.
Schmidt completed 9-of-19 passes for 142 yards. The majority of those passes went to Darbee, who caught seven for 110 yards and one TD. Justin Mendez caught the other two passes for 32 yards.
Lackey paced the Devilcats’ running attack with 51 yards on 15 rushes.
“We’re improving,” LMR Co-Coach Fred Ahart said. “The passing game was very good tonight. Offensively, we are certainly doing better.”
Ahart noted that the Devilcats have also made progress on defense as the season has moved along.
The veteran coach, fellow Co-Coach Kevin Clifford, assistant coaches and players will continue to work hard during the next two weeks to try and record a victory in one of the team’s final two regular season games. This Saturday, Oct. 21, LMR will travel to Amenia to face the Webutuck Warriors in a Section IX Class D game. Then on Saturday, Oct. 28, the Devilcats will host Chester in a Class D contest at Livingston Manor Central School.
“I am very proud of our players for sticking with it and continuing to work hard,” Ahart said. “We want to keep working hard for these next two games and hopefully some good things will happen for us.”