By Rob Potter
GRAHAMSVILLE A strong second half performance allowed the Sullivan West Bulldogs to overcome a very determined Tri-Valley team in Saturday afternoon’s Section IX Class C football game.
Fired up by their home crowd, the Bears enjoyed a 19-14 lead after three quarters of play. But SW (7-1, 5-1 Class C) outscored T-V 15-0 in the fourth quarter to post a 29-19 win.
The Bulldogs scored the go-ahead touchdown with 7:03 remaining in the game. On fourth down, sophomore quarterback E.J. Franskevicz threw an accurate pass to junior tight end Eric Leewe, who caught the ball over a T-V defender at the goal line and fell into the end zone. Chris Murphy then ran into the end zone on the conversion play to extend the SW lead to 22-19.
With 1:06 left, Franskevicz gave the Bulldogs some insurance by scoring a on 2-yard run. Artie Norden then converted the PAT kick to make it a 10-point margin.
The Bulldogs, who assured themselves of the No. 2 seed in the Class C playoffs prior to the game, will meet the third-seeded Liberty Indians in a Class C semifinal game at 4 p.m. this Friday, Oct. 30 at Faller Field in Middletown.
The winner of that contest will face the winner of the other semifinal game between No. 1 seed Ellenville and fourth-seeded Millbrook for the Class C title at 3 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 7 at Dietz Stadium in Kingston.
After a 7-7 first quarter in Saturday’s game played amid constant rain which intensified greatly in the fourth quarter T-V (2-6, 1-5 Class C) scored two touchdowns in the second quarter. Specifically, Matt Bogorad scored a TD on both sides of the ball.
With 9:57 to go in the quarter, he ran 11 yards to paydirt.
Less than a minute later, SW had the ball near midfield when junior quarterback Ryan Alsdorf dropped back to pass and was hit by Bears defensive tackle Frank Delozier just as he released the ball. Like a good center fielder in baseball, Bogorad settled under the ball and looked into his hands.
Bogorad then picked up blocks from his teammates while sprinting to the end zone for a 37-yard return to give the Bears a 19-7 advantage.
Franskevicz, who entered the game on the next SW possession, scored on a 5-yard quarterback draw with 23 seconds left until halftime. Norden then added the extra-point to make it a 19-14 ballgame.
“We played better in the second half,” SW Coach Ron Bauer said. “[E.J.] Franskevicz came in and did a good job for us.
“Both teams played hard,” Bauer added. “Tri-Valley deserves a lot of credit. Those kids played very hard.”
Latii Rabii, who scored the Bulldogs’ first TD on a 26-yard run in the first quarter, paced the team with 130 rushing yards on five carries. Murphy ran 17 times for 84 yards.
T-V’s Brendan Moore put the Bears on the scoreboard by catching a pass from quarterback Peter DiMilia and dashing to the end zone for an 84-yard touchdown with 7:33 to go in the first quarter.
DiMilia completed 3 of 6 passes for 104 yards.
DiMilia, a junior who also plays linebacker for the Bears, recorded a team-best 22 tackles, 16 of which were solo.
“You tip your hat to Sullivan West,” T-V Coach John Rusin said. “They are a very good team.”
Rusin was very proud of his players for their performance against a quality opponent under less than ideal conditions.
“Our guys played with a lot of heart today,” he said. “We’ll focus on next week, when we can hopefully end our season with a victory especially for our seniors.”
Rather than introducing its starters on offense or defense prior to the game, T-V had the names of all of those seniors called out by the public address announcer so they could run to the middle of the field. Those seniors included: Logan Ackerley, Bobby Beale, Bogorad, Ross Bonnell, Jesse Brown, Dan Byrne, Zachary Cordero, Delozier, Devin Kinney, Moore, Aundray Morris, Erik Raymond and Juan Rios.
Note: T-V will host the Livingston Manor/Roscoe Devilcats in a non-league game which will be the season finale for both teams at 1:30 p.m. this Saturday, Oct. 31.