By Ted Waddell
LAKE HUNTINGTON In last Friday night’s football game under the lights at Sullivan West High School, the host Bulldogs felled the Deposit Lumberjacks, 49-20, in a non-league contest which was the season opener for both teams.
With 9:33 remaining in the first quarter, SW quarterback Ryan Alsdorf connected with Artie Norden on a touchdown pass. The PAT kick cleared the uprights, and SW (1-0) had a quick 7-0 lead.
Just when it looked like Deposit quarterback Ben Thomas was going to be sacked for a loss, he eluded his pursuers and hooked up with a pass to Derek Lenio for a first down at the Bulldogs’ 37- yard line. SW intercepted a Thomas pass shortly thereafter to end the Lumberjacks’ drive.
But Deposit (0-1) turned the tables on the Bulldogs. Several SW players missed tackles as the Lumberjacks’ Darin Wignall returned a punt 65 yards for a touchdown. The two-point conversion pass attempt failed, so SW was still up, 7-6.
SW answered the Deposit score immediately as Latii Rabii returned the ensuing kickoff for a 79-yard TD with 4:56 left in the quarter. The PAT kick was good, and the home team led 14-6.
In the final minute of the first quarter, SW’s Chris Murphy punched through the middle of the line for an 11-yard score. The PAT kick was wide to the left, but the Bulldogs still enjoyed a 20-6 lead.
As the quarter ended, SW defensive end Mike Schmidt and friends sacked Thomas.
Early in the second quarter, after a couple of penalties, Deposit tried a fake punt. But it was stopped by SW’s Austin Erlwein.
A couple of minutes later, SW was forced to punt. Wignall snatched up the errant football and returned it for a TD. Thomas then completed a two-point conversion pass to Davidson Libke to make it a 20-14 contest with 9:41 remaining in the stanza.
With 6:37 left in the quarter, Schmidt recovered a Lumberjacks’ fumble to give the Bulldogs possession at Deposit’s 16-yard line. Murphy was stopped twice near the goal line, but Alsdorf walked across the goal line to score. Erlwein then ran for the two-point conversion to give SW a 28-14 lead with 5:56 left until halftime.
The Bulldogs regained possession after a high snap caused a short punt by Deposit.
With 1:49 displayed on the scoreboard, Alsdorf scored on a 23-yard quarterback keeper. The PAT kick was good, putting SW up 35-14 at halftime.
The Lumberjacks struck first in the second half. With 10:05 to go in the third quarter, Thomas completed a long TD pass to Libke. The PAT kick failed, but Deposit had cut the SW advantage to 35-30.
A 27-yard return on the subsequent kickoff gave the Bulldogs a first down near midfield. A 28-yard pass by backup quarterback E.J. Franskevicz gave SW a first-and-10 at the Deposit 20-yard line.
A pass completion took it down to the 5-yard line. But then the Bulldogs started a series of mistakes false start, delay in the backfield, a fumble and another false start which moved them back to the 25-yard line. A pass completion to Rabii set up a fourth-and-goal at the 12-yard line. With 1.7 seconds left of the third quarter clock, Alsdorf scored. The PAT kick fell short of the mark, but SW had a 43-20 lead.
With 8:29 remaining in the fourth quarter, Rabii raced 52 yards into the end zone to increase the Bulldogs’ advantage to 49-20.
Following a 56-yard kickoff return, the Lumberjacks were looking at a first down at the SW 11-yard line. But the Bulldogs’ Mason Berrian ended the scoring threat by intercepting a pass.
“They executed very well, [using] pretty much one play an option play with the quarterback to gain probably 300 yards,” Deposit Coach Tom Halbert said. “We had a very difficult time adjusting to that [and] with their five-three defense, they just lined up and came at us.
“We’ve got work to do,” added Halbert, who is in his second year of leading the Lumberjacks.
Since the merger nine years ago which created SW, Coach Ron Bauer, who began his stellar coaching career at Delaware Valley Central School back in 1966, has guided the Bulldogs.
“Some kids really stepped up today and played well,” he said. “[But] we have to improve in the secondary a little bit [because] we had a few mental mistakes.”