Neuqua Valley puts East Aurora away early
By Tom Strong For Sun-Times Media September 16, 2011 11:36PM
East Aurora's Jose Chavez struggles to hold on to the ball as the Neuqua Valley defense closes in Friday night in Aurora. | Terence Guider-Shaw~For Sun-Times Media
Updated: November 30, 2011 12:34AM
It took Joey Rhattigan 13 seconds to get Neuqua Valley on the board Friday at East Aurora. His 85-yard kickoff return gave the Wildcats a quick lead, and they didn’t look back on their way to a 56-7 victory.
“It was a one cut and run,” Rhattigan said. “In practice, we stress doing our thing to perfection. I have a lot of respect for East Aurora — they were there every down.”
The Tomcats made mistakes early to dig themselves into a hole.
Michael Ippolito blocked East’s first punt and recovered it for another early touchdown.
On the first play of the Tomcats’ next possession, a botched pitch from Laquan Brown to Cortez Cummings was recovered by Ippolito. Rhattigan scampered in from 15 yards on the next play to give Neuqua a 21-0 lead before everyone had found their seats.
Jeff Evak had a 12-yard touchdown run, and Shane Langton caught a 25-yard scoring pass from Nate Boudreau to give the Wildcats a 35-0 lead after one.
Chris Shaw had a 50-yard kickoff return for East Aurora, and the Tomcats progressed to the Neuqua 28 before turning it over on downs.
Javier Rodriguez had East’s other highlight with a fumble recovery in the second quarter, but again the Tomcats could not move the ball.
Zach Surma and Valante Lemon each scored for Neuqua in the second quarter. Surma had a 14-yard scoring reception (from Dylan Andrew) to
cap a 70-yard drive, and Lemon scored on a 19-yard gallop to finish a drive of 56 yards.
The Wildcats (3-1, 1-0 in the UEC Valley) led 49-0 at intermission, and the second half was played with a running clock.
The Tomcat defense did have a stop in the third quarter, forcing Neuqua Valley to turn the ball over on downs during its only possession.
Brown led East on a 68-yard scoring march in the fourth, throwing a 5-yard touchdown to Shaw.
Evak, however, returned the ensuing kickoff 78 yards for a Wildcat score to account for the final margin.
Danny Dudek led the Neuqua Valley offense with 112 yards on five carries.
“We don’t quit. That’s old rhetoric that I continue to say, but it’s true,” East coach Bill Bryant said. “We’re outclassed by numbers and talent, and it’s hard to compete with kids going both ways and special teams. But I still love my kids.”