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Determining factors

Liberty’s Quinn Jackson takes off on a 96-yard TD run to tie the game in the early going.

By Richard A. Ross
September 13, 2012

SULLIVAN COUNTY, NY— Seven Sullivan West takeaways, including four interceptions and Mother Nature’s fury, defined the outcome of the latest chapter in the ongoing strident rivalry between the Bulldogs and the Liberty Indians. Last October the Westies won a football playoff berth by beating Liberty 21-20 in overtime. That stinging loss cost the Red Pride postseason contention. After Sullivan West had scored in the OT and successfully completed the point-after kick, Liberty scored, and then gambled on a two-point conversion pass. In that fateful fake PAT, holder Quinn Jackson’s pass sailed over Marshon Williams’ shoulder. Needless to say, this year’s rematch, albeit of the non-league variety, had ample resonance from last year’s tilt, amplified even more by two uproarious boys basketball clashes both won by Liberty.

In this gridiron fray, the Indians vowed to turn the tables on their canine foes and elected to defend first after winning the toss. But the Bulldogs marched straight down the field and scored on a 39-yard pass from senior quarterback Sawyer Erlwein to fellow senior Brad Hemmer. Michael Sedlack kicked the PAT and the Dawgs held the early 7-0 lead. After driving Liberty backward to its own four, the Bulldogs gambled by blitzing linebackers on a third and 16 play. Jackson, who is now the Indians QB, eluded a tackler and raced 96 yards for the touchdown. Ryan Henry’s PAT tied it up.

Miscues would define this game. The Dawgs fumbled and Liberty recovered but squandered the first of many chances as Jackson’s pass was picked off by Westie Jared Meola. Brian Stauch ran it in from the ten, Sedlack added the punctuation PAT and the Dawgs led 14-7. Liberty’s woes mounted with a safety as the snap to Henry sailed into the end zone giving SW a 16-7 lead. A Liberty fumble late in the second quarter was recovered by SW’s Cody Franskevicz . That drive was capped off by a flawless 32-yard screen pass to Stauch who scored, staking Sullivan West to a 22-7 halftime lead. It could well have been much more.