The Saugerties Sawyers and the Wallkill Panthers came together for the 36th Annual Mum Bowl Game at Saugerties High School Saturday and it was a classic. Wallkill came out on top 27-26, but that hardly told the story.
The game was scoreless at the end of one quarter with both offenses trying to find some identity. Wallkill used a power option running game to control the clock and the Sawyer defense, while the Sawyers tried to establish a running game that would allow senior standout quarterback Justin Fredenburg the time to throw the ball. This is what Saugerties does the best, chuck the hide.
Wallkill took over the ball with just over a minute left in the first and used 11 consecutive runs for a 7-0 lead when sophomore signal caller Seth Ewald used a play fake to hit Tom Truscello for a one yard toss. Zach McDonald booted the extra for a lead.
Saugerties has spent way, way too much time on defense this season and they needed a sustained drive. They got it with a nine play jaunt that started at their own 30. They used the hard running of Harley Curless at tailback and Shawn Mullen at fullback to move the ball. Fredenburg hit on two passes, a 17 yarder to Mike Gunn and an 18 yarder to Jared Mayr for a nice mix of run and pass. On first and goal from the three Curless scored and when Fredenburg hit the extra boot it was 7-7 with just :47 left in the half For Saugerties this would be a great boost since most of their failures this season have come at the end of a well played first 24 minutes.
Again it hit. A little bouncing kick by Kevin Carpenter left the Panthers with no return and not a lot of time. They tried a screen pass and Carpenter blew it up from his defensive tackle spot for a two yard loss. Wallkill took a timeout. Then on second and 12 to go the hand off was fumbled and players scrambled for the ball, which Ewald picked up and rumbled for three yards. Still no trouble for Saugerties as the time was ticking away. Then it happened. Ewald hit Marc Mazza on an inside screen, Saugerties over-pursued and when Mazza turned it outside he had nothing but green in front of him. The end result was a 59 yard TD pass and with the extra point a 14-7 Wallkill lead at the break.
Saugerties came out and looked like they were going to get the score back right away when Fredenburg hit Mike Gunn for what would have been a 54 yard strike deep into Panther territory, but a holding call negated it and the drive would eventually stall.
A short punt by Mayr left the Panthers at the 50, 10 plays later, eight runs and two passes the score was 20-7 when Ewald called his own number for a five yard run. The two point try was no good but the lead left Saugerties in a familiar position in front of a huge home crowd now gone silent.
Saugerties would keep their defense off of the field from the four and a half minute mark of the third until the 10:29 spot of the fourth. The end result was a 16 play drive. Fredenburg completed five of eight passes and Curless continued to run the ball strong. It ended when "Freddy" hit Antoine Cummins for a six yard score in the left corner. Fredenburg's kick was wide right and maybe led to a later decision.
With the game 20-13 Wallkill drove again with six runs, a 15 yard face mask and a five yard off sides call against Saugerties. The drive culminated when Mazza scored on a 39 yard run. McDonald hit the point after for a 27-13 lead, game not over though.
The ensuing kick was fielded at the 15 by Cummins and he headed straight up the middle, broke left at the 50 past the kicker and wound up in the zone for an 85 yard TD. Fredenburg added a line drive extra point cutting the lead to 27-20.
Now Saugerties needed a stop on D. They had just over seven minutes left and short a score.
Wallkill gained just five yards on three runs and were forced to punt the ball away. Jared Mayr called for a fair catch at the Panther 49, but Saugerties was flagged for a 15 yard late hit penalty and forced to start back on the 36.
Fredenburg went incomplete on his first toss and then hit Mayr for a 19 yarder. After a two yard screen to Cummins, Fredenburg missed on his next two to make it fourth and eight from the Panther 43. Fredenburg looked left and found the junior Mike Gunn for 22 yards and got a break with 15 more on a late hit. This left first and 10 just a few inches outside of the 10. Curless ran for five tough yards to the five. Then the Fredenburg-Gunn connection hit once more for another score. Now with 2:26 left the Sawyers could go for the tying kick or a two pointer to take the lead.
In a move that this reporter agrees on 100 percent, the Sawyers went for two, the pass fell incomplete and the end result was a 27-26 Saugerties loss.
On that play there were clearly two Saugerties receivers in the left side of the endzone and there were clearly two Wallkill defenders holding the said receivers. No flag was thrown, the Saugerties coaching staff acknowledged the play after the game, but in a classy way denied to make and official comment. Well this man will. On a play where the game was on the line, the officials clearly blew an easy call. Yes there was over two minutes to play in the game and yes the Panthers had little trouble moving the ball down field, and yes they may have advanced for another score to win, but this was an easy call to see and anyone there who denies this is simply not telling the truth.
Saugerties (1-2 in Class A, 2-4 overall) travels to league-leading Cornwall next Friday. Wallkill (3-1, 3-3), which clinched a playoff spot with the win, will host Valley Central.
Sawyer Rushing - Harley Curless 13-68 TD, Shawn Mullen 6-25, Jared Mayr 2-0, Mike Gunn 1-6, Justin Fredenburg 1-3
Sawyer Passing - Justin Fredenburg 13-23-139-2 TD
Sawyer Receiving - Mike Gunn 4-47 TD, Jared Mayr 2-37, Brian Hicks 1-23, Antoine Cummins 5-42 TD, Harley Curless 1-(-)10
Wallkill Rushing - Seth Ewald 6-16 TD, Paulo Alvear 13-71, Marc Mazza 9-92 TD, AJ Calvo 6-16
Wallkill Passing - Seth Ewald 3-4-68-2 TD
Wallkill Receiving - Tom Truscello 1-1 TD, Marc Mazza 1-59 TD, Matt Ortiz 1-8
--- RON BROWN