By Rob Potter
LAKE HUNTINGTON October 24, 2006 The Sullivan West coaches, players, cheerleaders and fans went home happy on Saturday night as the Bulldogs won their homecoming game against the Tri-Valley Bears by the final score of 21-7.
With the victory, SW improved its record to 4-4 overall and 2-0 in Class C competition. The Bulldogs can claim the Class C regular season crown and assure themselves of a spot in next month’s Class C championship game at Dietz Stadium in Kingston by defeating Millbrook at 7 p.m. this Friday night at Bulldog Stadium on the SWHS campus in Lake Huntington.
T-V fell to 5-3 overall and 1-1 in Class C play. The Bears can earn a spot in the Class C title tilt at Dietz with a victory against Pine Plains this Saturday. The Bombers and Bears will meet at 1:30 p.m. in Grahamsville.
On Friday night, the respective defenses held the offenses in check for most of opening quarter. After forcing T-V to punt the ball from deep in its own territory, SW took over at the Bears’ 28-yard line with 1 minute and 32 seconds left in the frame.
The Bulldogs needed just one play to get on the scoreboard. On first down, junior quarterback Jim Moloney threw a pass to senior tight end Justin Alsdorf near the goal line. Alsdorf caught the football and ran into the end zone for the first touchdown of the night. Moloney then kicked the extra point to give SW a 7-0 lead.
The Bulldog defense forced the Bears to punt on their next possession.
Moloney then led the SW offense on a 12-play, 63-yard scoring drive. He connected with Alsdorf on another TD pass, this time for 26 yards, to make it a 13-0 game.
Moloney tacked on the extra point, extending the Bulldogs advantage to 14-0 with 4:54 remaining until halftime.
The Bulldogs had a chance to add to their lead later in the second quarter. T-V had the ball near midfield when quarterback Dustin VanLieu dropped back to pass. But SW’s Jason Leewe stepped in front of VanLieu’s intended receiver and intercepted the ball. Leewe then took off downfield, returning the ball 52 yards to the Bears’ 18-yard line.
T-V was penalized for grabbing Leewe’s facemask on the play, which set up the Bulldogs with a first-and-goal at the 9.
After losing yards on a penalty, running play and incomplete pass, Moloney threw a pass to wide receiver Brad Reimer on third-and-goal from the 16. Reimer was tackled at the 3-yard line, which brought up fourth down for the Bulldogs.
On fourth down, T-V senior safety Gary North picked off a Moloney pass in the end zone with 1:55 left in the quarter.
Although both teams had possessions in the final minute-plus, neither could reach the end zone and the score remained 14-0 at intermission.
Late in the third quarter, SW added to its lead.
The Bulldog D stopped VanLieu short of the marker on a fourth-down run, which gave the Bulldogs’ offense the ball at their own 27-yard line.
Moloney threw a first-down pass to Reimer, who ran down the right sideline for a big gain. Reimer was finally tackled at the T-V 29.
On the next play, SW senior running back Jon Figueroa took a handoff and ran around the left end. Figueroa kept going all the way to the end zone, extending the Bulldogs’ lead to 20-0 with 5:18 left in the stanza. Moloney then booted the ball through the uprights on the extra-point try.
T-V finally got on the scoreboard in the opening seconds of the fourth quarter. On a third down play at the SW 6-yard line, junior running back Brendan Musa caught a pass from VanLieu and made his way into the end zone. Senior kicker Alex Calabrese added the extra-point to reduce the Bulldogs’ advantage to 21-7 with 11:52 left in the game.
The Bears had a chance to cut into that deficit in the final three minutes of the contest.
With 2:41 showing on the scoreboard clock, T-V took over at its own 36. VanLieu then threw passes to junior tight end Nick Cassidy and senior running back Kyle Byrne to move the Bears down to the SW 21.
VanLieu ran for four yards to bring up a second-and-six at the 17.
But on the next play, Alsdorf intercepted a pass near the goal line and returned it a few yards.
The SW offense then ran out the clock to preserve the 21-7 win.
“I thought we controlled the line of scrimmage as the game went along,” SW Coach Ron Bauer said. “We played very well defensively. All of the players did a good job tonight. It was probably our best all-around game this year.”
He praised Assistant Coach Chris Reichmann, who calls the Bulldogs offensive plays.
“He did a good job of mixing it up with runs and passes,” Bauer said. “He kept their defense off-balance.”
As a team, the Bulldogs rushed for 107 yards on 33 carries. Leading the way were Figueroa, who had eight carries for 61 yards, and Will Schlott, who ran six times for 21 yards.
Moloney completed 12-of-24 passes for 231 yards. Reimer caught seven of those passes for 123 yards, while Alsdorf had four receptions which totaled 86 yards.
T-V Coach John Rusin noted that the Bears hurt themselves with penalties and other miscues.
“We made some mistakes tonight, but they are things that we can fix,” he said. “We are going to practice very hard this week to fix them.”
Rusin also noted that the Bulldogs played very well.
“You have to tip your cap to Sullivan West,” he commented. “They did a great job tonight.”
Byrne paced the Bears’ ground game by gaining 65 yards on 21 carries.
VanLieu completed 6-of-18 passes for 120 yards. Byrne caught three of those passes for 81 yards, while Musa had two receptions for 28 yards.
Note: During halftime, two SW football players Alsdorf and Matt Swendsen and one cheerleader Kelsey Hornicek were among the Homecoming King and Queen candidates, respectively.
Joining Alsdorf and Swendsen as King finalists were Brett Cucci, Garrett Owen and Kenny Rhodes. Joining Hornicek as Queen finalists were Jessica Armstrong, Tara Brewer, Lauren Ellison and Ashley Murphy.
After all of the finalists were introduced to the crowd, Rhodes and Armstrong were named 2006 SW Homecoming King and Queen, respectively.