White Plains evened its record at 2-2 Saturday on the foot of Orlando Cruz mastering the 25-knot winds swirling across Donald D. DeMatteo Stadium in Yonkers. Jeff Lee, after setting up the first Tiger TD, in words of one fan, “looked like Lawrence Taylor” with sacks, tackles and whack-downs that frustrated Gorton all afternoon.
GOING INTO THE WIND, it was impossible to pass Saturday at windswept DeMatteo Stadium. The Tigers move on Gorton in second quarter action in Yonkers. WPCNR PHOTO
The mustang northwest winds whipsnapping across DeMatteo Stadium meant field position and proficient kicking would be needed. White Plains elected to receive, and Gorton took the East goal of the old stadium, so they would have the wind in the fourth quarter.
Wrong decision. It cost them two touchdowns in the first 6 minutes of the game.
A Jeff Lee 48 yard “Rebound” Sets Up First Six
Starting at their own 23, the tigers were facing a 2nd and 14 on their 17 after illegal motion. Darrell Mack dropped back, rolled away right and threw downtown 48 yards on the far sideline to flanker Jeff Lee, triple-teamed.
In the air he went, the ball was tipped high and as Lee fell to earth the ballwas batted down into his hands, and he cradled it in, as his back hit the turf for a 1st on the Wolves’ 34 yard line.
After two pass plays failed, Spencer Ridenhour, lugged the ball to the Gorton 27, and the Tigers faced 4th and 3 on the 27.
Mack dropped back as if to pass, freezing the Gorton secondary to the far side of the field and pitched the pigskin back to Ridenhour who turned the near corner and bulled to the 11 yard line for a 1st and 10. A counter play up the middle moved White Plains to the 3. On the next play, Spencer Ridenhour took a pitch back and bulldogged up the middle into pay dirt and it was, 6-0. Conversion was successful and within 3 minutes, it was 7-0.
Muffed punt snap sets up Tigers in seconds
Orlando Cruz, with the whistling wind at his back, kicked the football 60 yards into the end zone and the Wolves took over at the 20. After three plays, Gorton attempted a punt. The punter fumbled the snap and the Tigers recovered on the 10. Three runs found White Plains on the 5. On 4th down, Darrell Mack dropped back rolled to the right, passed to Wilson Moronta in the flat who darted into the far corner for 6. The kick failed, and within 6 minutes, it was 13-0, Tigers.
Tiger Dee pens the Wolves for full half as offense goes three-and-out eight possessions in row.
On the ensuing kickoff, the Wolf return man got up a full head of steam and reached the 45 in the open when Moronta met him head-on in a courageous, touchdown-saving tackle and Gorton started up at their own 45. The Wolves got a fast 1st to the Tiger 45 on a flat pass, but their quarterback fumbled a snap that bounded all the way to the left side line where the Tigers recovered at their own 42, as the first quarter ended. This was the deepest penetration Gorton was to get until midway in the 4th quarter.
Coach Santa Donato took to a conservative play-calling strategy moving into the wind. In their next eight possessions (unofficially) through halftime and until 5 minutes to go in the 4th quarter, they went three-and-out. They relied on Orlando Cruz’s sure punting to handle the wind.
In his first punt into the gusting wind from the Tiger 43, Cruz bounced it to the Gorton 32, a 25-yard punt from scrimmage.
Jeff Lee does his Lawrence Taylor Impression
Gorton tried to come back. Jeff Lee always seemed to be making the big play to stall Gorton drives. It started now. With a Gorton 1st on the 43, Lee batted down a pass over the middle, the receiver was just waiting to pull in.
On the next play, Lee nailed the Wolf QB for his first sack of the day blitzing up the middle and single-handedly bringing him down for an 8 yard loss.
Lee did this so often Saturday that a Tiger fan beside me remarked he was playing like Lawrence Taylor of the 1990 Super Bowl Champion Giants. On 3rd and 18, the Tiger line overwhelmed the Wolf passer. The Wolf punter shanked his first punt with the wind, setting up White Plains at the 50. However, they could not move. Three-and-out was to be a recurring problem the rest of the day.
If you can’t move it, let Cruz kick it.
No problem. Big Number 67, handling the snap perfectly punted into the wind with an elegant line drive low with a neat knuckle roll to the Gorton 15. I mean, Cruz got so much roll on his punts today it was amazing. On 3rd and 5 from the 20, Jeff Lee rampaged in from linebacker and recorded his second sack of the day, forcing another Gorton punt, this time a good one.
White Plains took over on their 43 and ended up back to their 35. With a lead, with the wind blowing back passes, the Tigers simply stopped passing and this hurt their ground game. Cruz made his only poor punt of the day but, no problem, Gorton’s returned muffed the punt and Jeff Lee was right there to recover it on the Gorton 43, with no time left in the first half.
Third quarter a wash with a kick from the past.
Attacking into the wind in the third stanza, Gorton used up valuable time with runs. They went three-and-out on their first possession. White Plains did the same. After an exchange of fumbles after two undistinguished series by both teams at midfield, the Tigers again stalled.
Kicking from his 40, Cruz punted with the wind and executed a thing of beauty, a coffin corner kick. Orlando’s majestic launching hit at the 15 and rolled 10 yards out of bounds on the Gorton 4, as the third quarter ended. The kick was a 45 yard punt from scrimmage (NFL quality!).
Gorton Boards with 5 minutes to go
Gorton doggedly ran the ball out to their 40 on 3rd down, where a great play by Evan McGuire delayed the drive for precious minutes . After three plays, the Wolves faced 4th and 4. Kicking with the wind, with a new punter this time, Gorton pinned White Plains back to their 14 yard line.
Then Orlando Cruz made his only poor punt of the day, popping it up, getting a blow back, and the 17-yard kick gave Gorton the ball on the White Plains 35 with 8 minutes to go. A pass on 3rd down set them up on the Tiger 15.
After three tries, Gorton faced a 4th and 10 on the 15 when the Wolf Qb found a receiver in the end zone to make it 13-6 with 4:22 to play. Jeff Lee raced in from out of nowhere to bulldog the run for a 2-point conversion.
Taking over on their own 35, the Tigers needed to make a first down. On 2nd and 7, Eric Dickey drove for a first down on the Tiger 45.
McCoy’s 55-yard second effort wraps it up
On the very first play, Jeff McCoy took a handoff and went into a pile, merged bounced off the massed Gorton linebackers and picking up an escort dashed down the middle for 55 yards into the end zone. 19-6, Tigers, and with the kick, the Tigers had put away the game, 20-6.
This game was a game won by defense and special teams, which played almost flawless football. Aside from the pummeling administered by North Rockland, the Tiger defense has been very respectable. We attribute the offensive doldrums Saturday to the windy conditions that took away the passing option for half the game. Next week the Tigers play Mamaroneck in Mamaroneck at 2 PM.