Liverpool’s defense holds Corcoran scoreless after opening drive in 22-8 win

first_imgLIVERPOOL — Liverpool head coach David Mancuso said earlier this week 14 points would be enough to win Friday night. When Corcoran marched 76 yards for a touchdown on its opening drive to take an 8-0 lead, Mancuso’s forecast appeared in peril. But after a Niquaz Scott touchdown run in the first quarter, the Warriors didn’t surrender another point. Liverpool (3-2) won its third consecutive game on Friday night, defeating Corcoran (1-4), 22-8. On a night when the Warriors’ two-headed running attack failed to consistently move the ball, the defense and special teams forced multiple turnovers and stifled the Cougars for their final seven possessions. Liverpool’s non-offensive units provided multiple short fields for the offense to reach the magic number its head coach had set.“If we could get 14 points, I felt pretty confident that our defense could hold them to a touchdown, just based on the way we’ve been playing lately,” Mancuso said.  “Fortunately, it came true.”Liverpool made a special teams blunder of its own on its second possession, after its punter dropped the snap and was forced to fall on the ball near midfield. Liverpool’s Taj Pringle recaptured the momentum just four plays later, though, blocking the Cougars’ ensuing punt attempt and gifting the Warriors the ball inside Corcoran territory.AdvertisementThis is placeholder text“We work on special teams, I bet, more than any other team in Section III,” Mancuso said. “We spend a half hour a day on it.”The Warriors pounded Jacob Vacco up the middle repeatedly on the ensuing drive, seven times for 27 yards. But for a team that has relied heavily on its two running backs this season, quarterback Alex Ruston shined as a focal point of the Warrior offense Friday. Facing a fourth-and-10, Mancuso had no choice but to call a pass. He dialed up a play action bootleg, and Ruston hit Kaleb Ohlemacher for an 18-yard gain.Later in the drive, Ruston checked a play at the line, changing a third-and-10 play call into a quick slant for Joseph Valerino, who knotted the game at eight after a two-point conversion. Corcoran reached midfield again on its next drive, but the Liverpool defense capitalized on a Cougars’ miscue. They attempted to run an end around, but JoJo Williams couldn’t corral the handoff, and he stumbled into the open field. Warriors linebacker Bryce Mills scooped it up, one of many plays he made on the defensive end. Later in the first half, Corcoran’s Dewayne Young attempted his deepest pass of the evening. Valerino stepped in front, intercepted it and returned it to the 16-yard line. He gave the Warriors the ball back with 49 seconds to play. Ohlemacher made another catch to set the Warriors up inside the five. That’s when Liverpool reached Mancuso’s 14-point mark. Ruston connected with Vacco on a bootleg roll out. Vacco tumbled into the end zone, capping off a 33 second touchdown drive to give the Warriors a 15-8 lead into the break. “I didn’t think that play was going to happen because every time I went out No. 2 (Niquaz Scott) was on me,” Vacco said. “But on that one I just outran him.”Jacob Vacco, who had a receiving touchdown Friday, was also a big part of icing the game on the ground for Liverpool. TJ Shaw | Staff PhotographerIn the second half, Corcoran had four possessions and scored zero points. Even when the Cougars picked up a few first downs, the Warriors forced enough negative or small yardage plays to get off the field.Corcoran produced 54 yards rushing in the second half on 17 carries. Only one rush, a Cincear Torrence 22 yard run on the second play of the second half, went for more than seven yards.“We needed to crack down because we weren’t focused on that first drive,” Vacco said. “After that, we got focused and we stopped them the rest of the game. Our defense was huge.”Even as a ball hit the leg of a Warriors’ blocker on a punt return to give Corcoran the ball back at midfield, Corcoran’s offense remained ineffective. Liverpool forced a punt, which Ohlemacher caught at the 15-yard line and darted through a small hole in the coverage. He raced up the middle then around the left edge for a 38-yard return. That return gave Liverpool a short field, and much like its first and second touchdowns, the Warriors turned a short field into a short scoring drive. On third-and-goal from the eight-yard line, Noah Silfer busted wide open after a blown coverage off play action, easily grabbing the touchdown pass from Ruston, his third of the night. Trailing by two scores, Corcoran never crossed midfield in the final quarter. On its final drive, Liverpool killed off more than seven minutes of game time with 10 consecutive runs. As Mills sealed the game with a 23-yard run, the student section shouted a message ahead of tomorrow’s Syracuse matchup.They shouted: “We want Clemson!” Comments Published on September 28, 2018 at 11:29 pm Contact Anthony: amdabbun@syr.edu Facebook Twitter Google+last_img

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