« Week 10 Week 12 »

Washington Postage Stamp, October 19, 2008
Surtain Stars as Capitols Pick Up 24-6 Win Over Albany
Cornerback Nabs 3 of 5 Interceptions Thrown By Campbell
Box   Drive Chart

Baltimore Sunk, October 19, 2008
Bolts Power Past Hershey, 33-16, For 8th in Row
Keep Pace with Caps Thanks to 5 Takeaways
Box   Drive Chart

Syracuse Posed Standee, October 19, 2008
Blocked Punts Doom Crush in 24-14 Loss to New York
Empires Regain Lead on 1-Yard Run by Washington Early in 4th
Box   Drive Chart

Charleston Daily Smell, October 19, 2008
Favre Red Hot as Philadelphia Slaps Cannons, 41-13
Completes 20 of 22, 2 Scores Each to Lee, Bowe
Box   Drive Chart

Richmond Timed Distant, October 19, 2008
Rebels Snap Skid, Paste Providence, 21-15
Holcomb Picked Off 4 Times But Throws 3 TD Passes
Box   Drive Chart

Wilmington Snooze-Terminal, October 20, 2008
Cherries Blow 11-Point Lead But Outscore Connecticut, 41-34
Late TDs by Evans, Tomlinson Turn Tide
Box   Drive Chart   Snooze-Terminal Commentary

Wilmington Snooze-Terminal, October 20, 2008

Rip Snorter

Cherries Starring in What May Be TV’s Best Reality Show

Back in the middle of August, the Cherries played a nationally-televised Sunday morning game in Philadelphia against the Lakers. It was a wild contest in which the Cherries forced overtime with a John Kasay field goal with 0:30 left in regulation and then won, 36‑33, on another Kasay field goal 4½ minutes into the extra session. That game featured six lead changes, four ties, and more than 800 yards in offense.

Yesterday morning ASPN featured the Cherries again — this time at home — and while viewers didn’t get overtime, they once again got a liberal dose of “reality TV” excitement. When the emotional rollercoaster ride was over, the home team was on the long end of a 41‑34 score, and visiting Connecticut was left to lick its wounds.

I can’t say TV brings out the best in the Cherries. But it does seem to bring out the most excitement — and so far this season the outcomes have been good. So stand back, Survivor; desist, Deal or No Deal; run away, American Idol; depart, Dancing With the Stars; pull up stakes, Project Runway — there is a new and, for my money, more compelling reality offering on the tube these days. And remember, Cherries fans, ASPN will again be carrying the playoffs.

I couldn’t hear the ASPN audio feed in the press box, but no doubt their announcing team remarked on how quiet the stadium got when Will Blackmon of the Comets ran back a Ben Graham punt 84 yards for a go-ahead touchdown with 5:43 left. You could have heard a program drop. The amazing rookie’s 4th punt return touchdown of the season capped a 15-point run in a minute, 47 seconds.

Down 31‑27 with limited remaining time, the Cherries knew a field goal wouldn’t be enough. They needed a touchdown.

They got two!

Relying principally on LaDainian Tomlinson, Delaware drove into Connecticut territory as the clock ticked down to less than 3½ minutes. Then there was a string of five consecutive plays, not counting extra points, in which everything went right for the Cherries:

No one relaxed, though, either in the stadium or — I suspect — in their easy chairs at home until Dante Hall corralled Nate Kaeding’s onside kick with 0:30 to go.

Now the Delaware defense didn’t have the best day, I have to admit. The Comets gained 357 yards with an average gain per play of 6.4. But consider the Cherries were playing without 2 key starters — Julius Peppers and Terrell Suggs. Then consider the Cherries saw Fakhir Brown go down early in the 3rd quarter and Ray Lewis go down with 11 minutes to go.

In that light the defense hung in pretty well. In fact, they made key stops to force Kaeding field goals in the first three quarters, stops that first kept Delaware in the game and then allowed them to build the 27‑16 lead they took into the last quarter:

The Delaware kick coverage, which had heretofore this season been pretty solid, had a couple of critical lapses and may be a reason for concern. In addition to allowing Blackmon to take it to the house, they let Derek Stanley return the opening kickoff 49 yards to midfield, leading to Kaeding’s first field goal. The way I figure it the Cherries coverage team was due to be burned and the fact that they were able to overcome the lapses to pick up the “W” makes the lapses a lot easier to swallow.

Even though the Comets are now 5‑6, they still maintain a one-game lead in what has turned out to be an incredibly weak Northern Division. If their lead holds, they would be a potential playoff opponent for the Cherries — if the Cherries are not left out in the cold, that is. You see, one of four teams with the best records in the league — Cherries (9‑2), Emps (8‑3), Bolts (8‑3), and Caps (8‑3) — will be left out in the cold — that is, they won’t make the playoffs because the league awards an automatic berth to each of the three division winners. There is likely to be injustice served. All four Northern Division teams dropped their week 11 games, dragging their combined record in inter-division games down to a woeful 5‑23. Yet one of those teams — Connecticut, most likely — will make the playoffs.

For their troubles yesterday morning, the Comets were “flexed” by the EFL to participate in this coming Sunday’s ASPN game. They’ll host the red-hot Bolts in another possible playoff preview.

For the Cherries the reality of yesterday morning was they picked up a win they absolutely needed to have with the pesky Emps still nipping at their heels. Delaware has another potential playoff preview coming up in week 12 as well — on the road Saturday night against the Steam Roller. It’s hard to believe, but at 2‑9 Providence is still mathematically in contention for the Northern Division title!