White Plains dominated Ramapo High at Parker Stadium Saturday, 14-6 for their first victory of the season. A 57-yard, darting punt return by Junior Greg Lawrence, sprung by Jeff McKoy, and a final quarter 54-yard touchdown pass from Junior Darrell Mack to Senior Jeff Lee were the big plays.
After the smash, slash and dash of New Rochelle last week, the Tiger defense handled Ramapo’s slower backs and undisciplined line very professionally. For the first three quarters, the Tigers held Ramapo to just two first downs and under 100 yards.
Give the defense 11 game balls!
Outstanding surge and pursuit by Orlando Cruz, Gabriel Robles, and Ahmad Warren on the interior line, with dashing incursions into the backfield by Jeff Lee, Andre Riley and Wilson Moronta consistently kept Ramapo from mounting any serious drives until late in the game. The open-field tackling was sure. Tiger hits echoed when executed across the old Parker bowl at Highlands.
HITS YOU COULD HEAR highlighted White Plains domination of Ramapo Saturday in the old Parker Stadium bowl. White Plains pursuit and contain performance kept Ramapo from scoring until the 46th minute of the game. WPCNR PHOTO
Scoreless first half>br>
The Tigers held the ball for the first seven minutes of the game. They failed to score on first and goal from the 10 when a Tiger receiver fell in the Ramapo end zone permitting a great pickoff to end the drive. A Mack-to-Jeff Lee pass on 3rd and 15 from the Ramapo 35 – the Alley Ooper that worked last week – set up the Tigers for that early drive to take the lead. Ramapo would have done well to remember that play, for later in the game, White Plains “Mack-Lee’d,” using the same play for the second touchdown.
The teams battled to a scoreless tie at the half, with White Plains only penetrating to the Ramapo 45 the rest of the 2nd quarter. Ramapo was unable to get in White Plains territory the entire half.
Cruz-ing to Field Position
One of the reasons was a magnificent 43-yard punt from scrimmage by Orlando Cruz pushing Ramapo back inside their 40 when White Plains was on their 27. This punt was so good, ladies and gentlemen, that everyone on the field admired it, including the coverage.
Orlando injured his leg late in the first half, and seemed in great pain. He was able to return for the remainder of the game in the second half. Cruz is easily the best punter, I have seen in years of watching high school football. He hangs them high and his direction, roll and finesse are improving every time he kicks. He has obviously worked very hard on his technique and you can tell every time he boots one.
Keying on Spencer
Ramapo obviously watched Spencer Ridenhour’s New Rochelle highlight reel performance and was keying on stopping down the Tiger halfback. Spencer carried unofficially 14 times for 50 yards in the first half, and carried very little in the second.
Clean-living, Poise Pay off
In the 3rd quarter, Ramapo continued futility against the pit bulls in the Tiger line, and punted at the 7:36 mark towards the scoreboard end of the stadium. The punt was high and dropped innocently enough in front of Greg Lawrence back in coverage on the Tiger 30.
The punt bounced backward away from Greg, he backed off, letting the Gryphon coverage down the ball. The whistle blew and inexplicably a Gryphon grappler charged into Lawrence at full speed, waist-high, knocking him flat on his back. Yellow flag drifted to green grass. The ref accessed 15 yards and told Ramapo to punt again. Big mistake.
A Tiger raced out to Lawrence’s aid but neither Lawrence nor his Tiger teammate responded to the obvious vicious hit. Had either Tiger retaliated, an off-setter could result. Poise counted here.
In fact, Coach Santa-Donato’s teams never lose their poise, their temper, or their dignity when attacked. This time it worked to their advantage.
On the next play, the scoreless game turned around.
On rekick, Lawrence fielded the punt on the 40, cut to the near sideline in traffic, turned the corner and looked up field. Just as a Gryph was moving in to tackle Lawrence at the 50, Jeff McKoy took him out from behind in a magnificent, game-breaking block that was not a clip. (Very hard not to clip in that situation. It was the block of the year.)
Lawrence got the room he needed thanks to McKoy, and turned back into the middle of the field, outrunning the slow-footed pursuit, picking up a convoy of blockers and was long gone to the end zone. 6-0, White Plains.
But, wait, Lawrence is called for celebrating!
The Referee ruled that Lawrence, showing the ball as he long-legged it across the goal line, was “celebrating,” a new code of conduct rule on the League I-AA books this year. This social faux pas forced White Plains to kick or run from the 18-yard line for the extra point, not the 3. Tiger fans shook their heads, with that “everything happens to White Plains,” feeling we know so well.
However, with Darrell Mack holding, Cruz fakes through kicking the ball. Ramapo is up close. Mack hands to Spencer Ridenhourt, who rolls out, and floats a can of corn pass to the right coffin corner to Greg Lawrence, just a-waiting in paydirt.
Lawrence goes up, gathers it in. 2 points! Go figure. White Plains was up 8-0 with 7 minutes to go in the third quarter.
Big Dee Grinds the Gryphs
On the next Ramapo possession, Ramapo got to their own 46, when on 4th and 1, they went for it and Gabriel Robles stopped the key play cold, handing the ball over to White Plains. The Tigers failed to move the ball, and Cruz lofted another skillfully placed punt that was fair-caught at the Ramapo 15. A pair of big gainers, a run of 44 yards and a run of 15 yards moved Ramapo to the Tiger 30.
Ramapo is stopped just as they get in position.
Gabriel Robles and Jeff Diaz combined for a stop and a loss. On 2nd down, Jeff Lee executed a great open field tackle for a stop at the 27. On 3rd and 7 Robles and Andre Riley charged through to stop a sweep. On 4th down, Riley and Darrell Mack combined to make a stop on the 33 and White Plains took over on downs as the 3rd period was ending. When Wilson Moronta scampered to the Tiger 46, it was still 8-0 after three quarters.
On the first play of the final quarter, the play of the season so far, unfolded. A thing of beauty.
Darrell Mack drops to pass from the Tiger 46. He lofts a high Alley Oop pass to flanker Jeff Lee at approximately the Ramapo 33, far side. Three Gryphons surround the Tiger. Up he goes, up they went. Lee outleaps them, comes down in the middle, surrounded by tacklers. He eludes one, pushes another tackler away, spins, dukes and breaks away from the third. The race is on. A straggling posse chases Lee diagonally across the field to roaring multitudes.
He eludes the safety and races with dignity (this time) into the end zone. It is a 54-yard touchdown pass and run. White Plains was up, 14-0, with 11 minutes to play.
Darrell Mack and Jeff Lee are getting very good on this Alley Oop play, in which Mack throws a pass high into a general area. Lee judges it, outleaps the defenders to catch it. They have worked this successfully three times this season. Receiver R.C. Owens of the old San Francisco 49-ers originally invented this play with Quarterbacks Y.A. Tittle and John Brodie back in the late 1950s. It still works.
Ramapo long runs sets up their first score.
White Plains had the ball for most of the first half, and in the second half, Ramapo had the balance by far in time of possession. The Tigers gave up some big chunks but were grudging, stringing the Gryphons out to 3 downs on the next two down sequences and taking time off the clock. Ramapo had no passing game.
A 29-yard run by the Griffin quarterback Yvens Louis to the Tiger 7 on a 4th down and 19 at the Tiger 39 set up their first score. Jeff Lee saved a touchdown by seizing Louis at the 7. Ramapo punched it in finally on 3rd and goal with 1:39 to go in the game. The kick failed, and it was 14-6.
Questionable kick call, sets up Ramapo to tie the game
Ramapo set up an onside to the farside of the field. To this reporter, the dribbled kick not only did not go 10 yards, but also went out of bounds. No matter, the refs gave the ball to Ramapo at mid-field with 1:30 to go. It was nail-biting time.
Yvens Louis dashed 20 yards on the quarterback draw (a play New Rochelle used quite nicely on the Tigers), to the 30 and called their first timeout.
Two running plays got only to the Tiger 23, and Mike St. Fluer was able to race for a 1st down on the White Plains 18 with 40 seconds to go.
Key final sequence
On first down, Louis the Quarterback dropped back, but as had been happening all day, his line could not stop the Tigers over the top. Jeff Lee and Orlando Cruz sacked him back at the 24-yard line with 25 seconds to go.
On second down, Louis rolled out nearside, and again Jeff Lee pursued and snared him for sack number two in the key sequence.
A penalty stopped the clock. On 4th down, Louis again saw his protection break down. Lee and Andre Riley brought Louis down, ending the Gryphon hopes.
Darrell Mack fell on the ball for the last play, and the Tigers had their first win.
GATORADE TIME: Tigers mob each other, celebrating their first victory.The Gatorade Tank is on its way to the coach. WPCNR PHOTO
First Win of many to come.
Coach Mark Santa-Donato was drenched with Gatorade, as the Tigers swarmed on the field to celebrate an upset win where they outplayed, out hit, and outsmarted Ramapo. The Gryphons did not look like a 2-0 team, flagged for unofficially, six illegal procedure penalties on snaps, messing up handoffs, beaten off the snap consistently all afternoon. A win to build a season on.
Next year, is going to be a great year for White Plains football. The varsity is young. The Junior Varsity has some good young blood. They won their third straight game, beating Ramapo, 14-0 Saturday morning.
Spanning the Stands: Delgado, Tuck, Amodio, Greer, Roach, and Candyce were at the game!
You can tell it is election season, finally. Mayoral Candidate Robert Greer and Council candidate Tom Roach handing out campaign lit joined Larry Delgado, Robert Tuck and Mike Amodio and greeting voting football fans at the stadium. Candyce Corcoran, Candidate for County Legislator, was the only candidate risking her limbs working the wide track bleacher stands, fan-to-fan. Considering her recent ankle fracture, it was quite a risk negotiating the unsure, uneven Parker Stadium concrete.
STRIKE UP THE BAND:The White Plains High School Marching Band debuted at home with a sharp halftime performance that kept the crowd watching, listening, and tapping their feet. WPCNR PHOTO
The White Plains Tiger High School Band entertained before the game and during halftime in its first home appearance. The band with the big brass sound, had big time fun with “Great Balls of Fire,” and actually playing of all things, a football fight song, “We Want a Touchdown.” The brasses were crisp, the percussion on time, authoritative, the clarinets and flutes blending crisply, and they produced a big time sound. The CitizeNetSportsGuy puts in a request for “Notre Dame Victory March” next week, and perhaps, “Mr. Touchdown,” Ms. Tompkins?…And, how about perhaps “Stars and Stripes Forever,” or at least one, righteous John Phillips Sousa march?
While, we are in a request mode, could the Highlands Middle School install a flagpole at Parker Stadium so Old Glory does not have to lean against a fence? Thank you. Where is Bud Nicoletti, when you need him?