By Rob Potter
ELDRED October 2, 2007 There was a little more scoreboard watching than usual during Saturday’s Section IX Class D football game at Eldred Central School.
As the Eldred Yellowjackets and the visiting Chester Hambletonians walked from one end of the field to the other between the third and fourth quarters, referee Tom Finan told scoreboard operator Daryl Barnes to change the scoreboard, which displayed a 14-6 advantage for Eldred. Finan said that he and the other officials were keeping score in the field and that Eldred actually had a 13-6 lead.
When Eldred Coach Frank Kean asked why the score was changed, Finan told him that the extra-point kick following the Yellowjackets’ second touchdown in the second quarter was wide left and therefore no good.
On the first play of the fourth quarter, Chester’s Danny Conklin ran for a 2-yard touchdown. Quarterback Joe Salthouse then crossed the goal line on the two-point conversion to give Chester (1-4, 1-0 Class D) a 14-13 lead.
However, Eldred (3-2, 0-1 Class D) had a final chance to win the game. With 10 seconds left, the Yellowjackets lined up to attempt a 35-yard field goal.
However, the snap was bad and the ball bounced near kicker Bobby Warden. He picked up the ball and tried to run upfield, but was quickly tackled by Chester’s Ray Garcia as time expired.
Following the game, Kean and his assistant coaches were still mystified by the score change.
“He [Finan] told me the extra point at the end of the second quarter was wide left, but I think he got it confused with the field goal that we missed on the last play of the half,” Kean said.
Aside from the disputed extra point, Kean noted that the Hambletonians’ first touchdown of the second half really swung the momentum of the game.
“At halftime, I told my guys that we can’t let them take the kickoff and go down the field and score,” Kean said. “But that’s what Chester did. They went right down the field and scored in the beginning of the third quarter.”
That touchdown which put Chester on the scoreboard was recorded by Salthouse and J.P. Hackett, who teamed up for a 15-yard pass play.
Eldred took its 13-0 lead with two second quarter TDs. The first touchdown was an 8-yard pass from Bryan Henry to Kojo Williams with 9:38 left. The second score was a 1-yard run by Christian Martinez with 13 seconds remaining until halftime.
“This loss hurts, but when have to move on,” Kean commented. “We have to focus on Pine Plains. We play them next weekend, so this game is history.”
Chris Leader paced the Yellowjackets’ rushing attack with 58 yards on 16 carries. Kevin Prunka carried the ball 10 times for 44 yards and Tom Compasso added 12 yards on three rushes.
Leader and Prunka each had a fumble.
Williams caught five passes for 165 yards.
Nick Simonelli and Stan Smith led the Yellowjackets’ defense. Simonelli had 11 tackles to inch closer to the school record for tackles in a season. Mike Vaka set the record of 70 tackles in 1992.
Smith made seven tackles and had three assists.
Chester Coach Ron Stover said he didn’t realize the scoreboard was wrong until Finan told him about it.
But Stover was more focused on his players and the way they rebounded from the halftime deficit.
“The coach doesn’t deserve any credit for this win,” he said. “These players deserve all the credit. They came out in the second half and played great. They were down 13-0 and made a great comeback.”
Stover also noted that going 0-and-5 to start the season would have been devastating to his team.
With the victory, Chester moved a step closer to capturing the Class D regular season championship. A win later this month over Livingston Manor/Roscoe, which is the only other Class D football team in Section IX, would give the Hambletonians the title.
If both Chester and Eldred defeat LMR, the Hambletonians and Yellowjackets would meet for the Class D championship on November 2 at Dietz Stadium in Kingston.