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Sports Archives — The Altamont Enterprise, September 8, 2011

Voorheesville blocked by Taconic Hills in opener

By Jordan J. Michael

VOORHEESVILLE –– An extra point is very important, after all. The fate of an entire game can depend on it.

Down one point, 39 to 38, with four minutes remaining in its season opening game at home against Taconic Hills, Voorheesville had a decision to make. Senior Eric Conde had just busted up the gut for an 11-yard rushing touchdown. Head Coach Joe Sapienza sent out the kicking unit.

Senior Mike Chiseri, who was having a great performance as quarterback in his first career start, also takes kicks for the Blackbirds. He had sent a few earlier extra points wide of the uprights. Still, Voorheesville went for the tie.

The snap was a little high and the hold was slow. A Titans’ defender came from out wide, diving to block the kick. The Taconic Hills’ sideline erupted with jubilation and the Voorheesville fans were perplexed.

The Blackbirds deserved better. The team had fought back from 13 points down over five minutes in the fourth quarter.

“There are never enough linemen to block far out wide, so you kind of let them go,” Sapienza said after the 39-to-38 defeat. “I think my guys were a little gassed. Maybe we should have gone for two points, I don’t know. These are the decisions you look back on.”

The Titans were able to run the clock down to 20 seconds before punting to the Birds. Voorheesville had no real time to do anything upon fielding the kick at its own 20-yard line.

“We came out and played hard,” Taconic Hills Head Coach Tom Davis said after the game. “This is a different group of kids than before.”

Dramatic start

Saturday’s game was marked by extravagant plays by both teams. The offensive lines could not be stopped.

Voorheesville senior Nate Crawford took the opening kickoff 76 yards for a touchdown. Taconic Hills got its own kickoff return for a score when Nik Zyryi scampered 80 yards up the sidelines late in the first half. Titans’ quarterback Dylan Decker connected with Tyler Craft for 44 yards and a touchdown.

That wasn’t even half of what the first 24 minutes offered. The plays kept coming.

Conde had a rushing touchdown of 15 yards to cap off the Birds’ second drive, giving the team a 14-to-0 lead. The Titans answered, closing the gap, 14 to 13, after Dylan Dotterer caught a 57-yard touchdown pass from Decker. Anthony Scaccia gave Voorheesville a 20-to-13 lead after catching a Chiseri pass for 31 yards.

Taconic Hills found the end zone twice with only a few minutes left in the first half. Zyryi had his huge run back and Spencer Winters had a touchdown run of 12 yards after Zyryi set it up with a 23-yard catch.

A lot had happened, but there was still another half of football to play. The Titans had a 26-to-20 lead.

“Big play after big play,” said Sapienza. “Whoever made the last one was going to win.”

Davis noticed all the big plays, too. “We opened things up with the pass,” he said.

Tied and tense

The offensive lines didn’t settle down in the second half. Voorheesville’s Aumir Roberson had a rush of 32 yards, which paved the way for Jake Wood’s 13-yard touchdown catch. That score tied the game at 26 to 26.

Taconic Hills would come back with two answers. First, Craft split the Birds’ defensive backfield, catching a touchdown pass for 44 yards. On Voorheesville’s next possession, Matt Morales intercepted a pass by Chiseri that was tipped, placing Taconic Hills deep in Voorheesville’s territory.

The Titans pounded it on the ground and Winters got into the end zone from one yard out to give his team a 39-to-26 lead. Voorheesville fought back with an amazing touchdown catch by Crawford, who fell into the end zone with the defender basically attached to him.

“We knew they wouldn’t lay down,” said Scaccia, who had 15 tackles on defense. “We got a little angry after a while.”

Taconic Hills’ play on Saturday came as a surprise, considering the team’s woes in previous seasons. Coach Davis is new to the team, coming over from a winning Chatham program where he was offensive coordinator.

“He knows what it takes to win,” Sapienza said of Davis. “He’s got his kids believing. This is a very positive win for them.”

Davis told The Enterprise the Titans used to fold, but that’s no longer the case. “We’ve got the ball rolling,” he said. “We can hang in the game with any team and finish it off.”

Moving forward

Despite the loss, Voorheesville had an impressive debut. Senior J.D. Springer, making his first-ever start after coming over from the soccer team, caught nine passes for 144 yards. Chiseri completed 18 of 31 passes for 223 yards and Conde rushed for 54 yards.

Sapienza was pleased with what he saw on offense, mentioning that the unit took what the Titans’ defense gave them.  “Phenomenal work, “ he said of the offense. “They put on a show.”

The loss will sting for Voorheesville, considering that its next two games are against Chatham and Watervliet. A 0-3 start could be on the horizon for the Birds if the team doesn’t play to full.

“We’re behind the eight-ball,” said Sapienza. “We showed what we can do, but I need the younger guys to step up and contribute. We need that type of supportive atmosphere where everybody contributes.”

Sapienza said that two things could happen after a grueling loss. One, a team can look back and correct mistakes. Or two, things can take a negative turn with people pointing fingers.

“I think we’ll move forward in the correct way,” he said.

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