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Sports Archives — The Altamont Enterprise, October 28, 2010

Class C football quarterfinals
Blackbirds come up one play short in defensive struggle

By Jordan J. Michael

GREENWICH –– Two evenly matched football teams with identical 5-2 records in Class C faced off Friday night in the playoffs. Both Voorheesville and Greenwich had stubborn defensive lines and highly efficient offensive lines.

One team had to lose and the Blackbirds were the unfortunate victims in Greenwich during the opening round of the Class C playoffs. The Witches moved on to the next round with a tough 14-to-8 win in the freezing cold.

With the game tied, 8 to 8, Voorheesville had a third and two at its own 15-yard line at the beginning of the fourth quarter. Anthony Scaccia got the first down and the Birds ended up putting a well orchestrated drive together that exhausted more than half the time remaining in regulation play.

Senior James Currier made two incredible sideline catches during the Blackbirds’ timely drive, and it set up a 34-yard field goal attempt by Mike Chiseri. Voorheesville had only a few yards to go on fourth down, but decided to kick.

Chiseri’s attempt went wide right and Greenwich now had a chance to take the lead, starting at its own 20-yard line with 5:50 remaining.

“Our defense was outstanding, so I figured three points would be enough,” said Voorheesville Head Coach Joe Sapienza after the game. “It could have been over if we hit that.”

Instead, Witches’ quarterback Tony Giroux, who threw for 226 yards on 11 completions, found Curtis Taylor for a 34-yard gain on the first play. Senior Ryan McFee then caught a pass on third down and 11 for a first down at Voorheesville’s 25-yard line.

Next, Greenwich faced a fourth and four after Jason Flynn dropped a pass. Giroux went right back to Flynn and he caught the pass for the first down at the 12-yard line with 2:28 left on the clock.

David Almy, who was in for Greenwich’s injured running back Tyler Pruiksma, took Giroux’s handoff up the gut for eight yards and a touchdown. The team, which really doesn’t have a solid place kicker, went for a two-point conversion, but the throw was incomplete.

“We have been more willing to throw the ball this year,” said the Witches’ head coach, Brandon Linnett, who doesn’t play call. “I felt like we could get something with the throw. This was a very evenly matched game, but we believed that we could win. Voorheesville was really physical.”

Final try

Greenwich had a 14-to-8 lead and Voorheesville had 1:52 left to score. A touchdown and extra point would be enough to win.

Currier took the Witches’ kickoff 40 yards to midfield, so the Blackbirds had great field position to start the drive. At the beginning of the second half, Aumir Roberson took a kickoff 84 yards, setting up Voorheesville’s only score of the night.

After letting time run on its last possession, the Birds had to transition into a two-minute drill. “We have the ability to sustain drives, but also work quickly,” Sapienza said. “We’re not one dimensional. The plays are mapped out beforehand, but it’s about executing.”

The Blackbirds’ first two plays netted the team four yards and then, on third down, Greenwich’s Spencer Truax made a great defensive play to break up Ryan Duncan’s pass to Nick Brockley. Voorheesville was left with fourth down and six yards to move.

Again, Duncan looked to Currier on the sideline and Currier grabbed the ball at the 30- yard line for the first down, while falling out of bounds to stop the clock. Next, Duncan dropped back, only to run out of bounds after gaining nine yards. Voorheesville ended up with a first down on the 20-yard line after Max Schuster ran the ball.

Duncan aired a pass to Currier in the far corner of the end zone, but the throw was a bit too long. With no timeouts, Duncan rolled to his left, eyeing Currier again, but got sacked as the clock ran under 10 seconds.

Sapienza told The Enterprise that Voorheesville’s last drive was “gutsy and gritty.” The team was in position to win. “We couldn’t quite finish, but it was a great game, regardless.”

The Birds’ offense panicked to set up a play at the line while its fans screamed for a holding call from the previous play. Duncan got the snap off with one second remaining, but overthrew the ball to the back of the end zone.

Greenwich celebrated. Voorheesville sat on the cold turf in defeat.

“I did get held by the defender, but the referee didn’t see it,” Currier said of the second- to-last play. “But, it doesn’t matter because we had chances before that to put the game away. We should have just put it away.”

Coach Linnett gave a lot of credit to Voorheesville. “They didn’t give us much and they stuck us,” he said. “Both teams deserved a win.”

The Blackbirds were inches away, but left with no satisfaction.

“This game will be on our minds for the next couple of months,” said Sapienza. “It was too close and too painful. This will sting for a while.”

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