Miscues and yellow flags haunt Crusaders in 28-12 loss to upstate Johnson City

Johnson City. Monroe-Woodbury (0-2) to face Warwick Valley (2-0) Friday night, Sept. 24, in Warwick.

| 20 Sep 2021 | 04:27

On a picture-perfect Saturday afternoon, Sept. 18, the Monroe-Woodbury Varsity Football Team got on their buses for a two-hour drive upstate to Johnson City in Broome County.

The Crusaders’ scheduled home game Friday night against Valley Central had been canceled due to a COVID situation on the Viking team.

But the Crusaders were able to get together with Corning-Painted Post School District and schedule a game for Saturday afternoon at Johnson City High School.

The Crusaders entered the game having lost to Cornwall in their opening game of the season 14-7 last week. The Hawks had beaten Ithaca in their opener 47-7.

The Crusaders attempted an onside kick to start the game but a flag on the play gave the Hawks the ball and a first down on the Crusaders’ 42-yard line. A few plays later, the Hawks’ Logan Booker took a hand off and ran 32 yards for a touchdown. The Crusaders stopped the two-point conversion and the score was 6-0 with 11:13 left in the first quarter.

The Crusaders answered back by driving the ball back down the field and scored on a Jayden Coulanges’ 22-yard run around right end. The point after attempt no good so with 7:21 left in the first quarter the score was tied at 6.

The Hawks responded as QB Landon Burch hit Booker with a 38-yard TD strike. Again, the two-point conversion failed and the Hawks were up 12-6.

The Hawks’ ensuing short kick was mishandled by the Crusaders and the Hawks took possession on the Crusaders’ 30-yard line.

From there the Hawks moved the ball down to the Crusaders’ goal line where Mason Smith scored from a yard out. The two-point conversion was good, giving Johnson City a 20-6 late as the quarter ended.

Late in the second quarter, the Hawks were driving down field. But the drive was cut short in the end zone when Conor Fitzgibbon made a spectacular interception.

Then with 18 seconds left in the first half, the Hawks scored again, and with a two-point conversation, the teams went into half time with the score 28-6 in favor of the Hawks.

Early in the second half Crusader quarterback Michael Zrelak broke free on a 38-yard run. A few plays later he scored on a one-yard dive into the end zone. The Crusaders scored on their two-point conversion but a penalty took the points off the board and so the score stood at 28-12.

The momentum had swung back to the Crusaders and when Craig Ladka blocked the Hawks’ punt, the team was ready to get back into the game.

But a Crusader touchdown run was taken off the board by a penalty and the ensuing field goal attempt was blocked and that pretty much put the game out of reach for the team.

In the second half the Crusaders shut out the Hawks and briefly had gotten back into the game but a series of miscues and constant diet of yellow flags took away any chance they had at a come back.

The 28-12 loss brings the Crusaders’ season record to 0-2. Their next game will at Warwick Valley on Friday night, Sept. 14.

- William Dimmit