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Blue moon

By Richard Ross
September 6, 2012

SULLIVAN COUNTY, NY — Rare it is when a calendar month features two full moons, the second of which is referred to as a “blue moon.” Thus the expression “Once in a blue moon” describes something that seldom happens. Under the glow of an August 31 blue moon, Sullivan West’s 2012 football campaign began auspiciously with a pair of rarities by beating Chester, a team that thrashed the Bulldogs a year ago, and doing so in the most unlikely manner by dint of last-second drama.

Last year, Chester’s offense had a heyday versus the Bulldogs in a 42-28 offensive onslaught that included six touchdowns from the now graduated standout Saxon Smith who rushed for 331 yards that night. Smith would go on to become Section 9’s all-time leading rushing record holder and Chester would carry its undefeated season all the way to the Carrier Dome in the state Class D title game where they came up on the wrong end of a 27-0 defeat to Section 5 Letchworth. For its part, coming off a dominant performance at the recent Port Jervis scrimmage, Sullivan West looked to avenge the now Smith-less Hambletonians.

But for the first three quarters of the game that avowed goal was undermined by poor blocking and tackling, inconsistent offense and a pair of turnovers undermined that goal. The first of such occurred on the Westies’ opening play as a fumbled snap handed Chester the ball and led to a 31-yard TD gallop by Lawrence Young, the heir apparent to Chester’s ground attack. That TD, which came only 27 seconds into the game, appeared to be an ominous omen under the lunar aura. But the Bulldogs nixed the two-point conversion attempt and the 6-0 score remained unchanged as the teams headed into halftime, a product of good defense by both squads, as well as a multitude of Chester miscues and poorly timed penalties. Chester added to its lead with a three-yard TD run by Justin Delgado with 7:04 remaining in the third quarter. Delgado scored on the two-point conversion and the Hambos now led 14-zip as Sullivan West’s offensive series continued to sputter and stall. This would eventually be reversed by dint of a trio of Chester no-no’s, the first of which was having only 10 men on the field during a Jared Meola punt return, which he took 54 yards for the Bulldogs’ first tally of the season. That happened with 5:40 remaining in the game. An option pass from Brad Hemmer to Meola added two more points to make it a 14-8 game.