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December 07, 2016
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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.

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.

Liberty scored early in the third quarter on a 40-yard run by Kenny Jaycox. They now trailed 22-14 and looked to have scored the game-tying TD on a nine-yard prance by Jackson but the play was called back on a holding penalty. Jackson’s subsequent pass would mark his fourth interception on the grab by Meola. Sullivan West capitalized as Erlwein would plunge across the goal line with 6:08 remaining in the third quarter. The PAT failed but the Westies now held a 28-14 lead before Mother Nature had her say. A tornado warning warranted the hasty exit into the school. Lightning strikes then prompted a trio of half hour delays before coaches and officials agreed to implement a rule that permits termination of the game in the interest of player safety. Having been in the locker rooms for over an hour and a half, it was deemed unwise to send the players out in the soggy mire with temperatures dropping, particularly in a non-league game.

Sullivan West improved to 2-0. They face Eldred at home on September 14 in a non-league clash of the unbeaten. Eldred trounced Fallsburg 42-0 a week after beating Livingston Manor 56-0. Liberty travels to O’Neill to face the defending Section Nine Class C champs in a vital league clash. In other football encounters, Tri-Valley lost a league game to Millbrook by the score of 34-13, while Monticello was stunned by Ellenville 22-14. The Monties are home to face Cornwall, while Tri-Valley hosts Pine Plains in league match ups. Livingston Manor lost 50-0 to Harpursville.

It was a busy week in soccer as the Monticello girls won their tournament with a 4-3 OT win over Liberty. Annie Purcell scored all four goals for the Lady Panthers. Liberty’s boys beat the Monties 3-0 in the boys tourney title. Fallsburg downed Eldred 5-2 in the boys consolation game, while Eldred blanked Fallsburg 2-0 in the girls consolation match up. Sullivan West’s girls got a pair of early season wins via a 5-4 victory over Tri-Valley and a 6-0 win over Family in the Downsville consolation game. They lost the tourney opener to Margaretville by the score of 7-0. In boys soccer, Chester downed young Tri-Valley 3-0 with a hat trick from senior Brian Dudgeon. Sullivan West lost its first two games to Port Jervis and Burke by the scores of 3-2 and 2-1. This week features the first cross-country meet of the season as Monticello hosts Liberty, Eldred, Family, Fallsburg, Livingston Manor and Sullivan West.

For ongoing stories and albums of photos, visit www.sportsinsightsny.com.