Saturday, September 15, 2012

Windham Forces Turnovers, Crushes Hanover

Just don't turn the ball over. Simple enough, right? Wrong. It's much easier said than done. But the fact is turnovers are the #1 factor in the outcome of high school football games.

Case in point - Saturday afternoon's Division IV tilt between Windham and Hanover. Both teams were 2-0 going into this game and neither team's starting defense had been scored upon so far. But Hanover turned the football over 5 times in the 1st half, compared to zero turnovers for Windham. The result was a 27-0 lead at halftime for the Jaguars, who went on to win 34-6 and improve to 3-0 on the season.

"We have done a lot of work this year on creating turnovers on defense, as well as ball security on offense" said Windham head coach Bill Raycraft. "We really drill it into the kids, and I'm sure it gets pretty repetitive for them doing the same things over and over in practice. But it's important."

Things snowballed on Hanover pretty quickly in this one. They had the ball first, and they actually moved the ball pretty well. They got down to the Windham 25 yard line before fumbling the ball. Senior Danny Cannone recovered the fumble and ran it in 25 yards for the touchdown. Hanover QB/DB Shawn Cavallaro blocked the extra point attempt and it was 6-0 Jaguars.

On the ensuing kickoff Hanover once again coughed up the football, and once again it was recovered by Windham. The Jaguars were up 6-0 and got to start their first offensive drive on the Hanover 30 yard line. Cannone picked up a crucial 1st down, running for 3 yards on 4th and 1 from the 25 yard line. Then sophomore Kellin Bail took a hand off, bounced it outside the tackles and ran it 16 yards for the score. This time the extra point was good and only 4 minutes into the game it was already 13-0 Windham.

"To have 6 turnovers is frustrating" lamented Hanover head coach Mike Ivanoski. "I know we're a better team than that. We need to play more physical and eliminate the mistakes. If we do that we can be a playoff team, but if we don't than we won't be a playoff team."

Hanover got the ball back and once again turned it over. Cavallaro was intercepted by sophomore Joe Frake at the Marauders' 26 yard line. You have to give the Hanover defense credit though, as they buckled down and did not allow Windham to score on that possession, even though the Jaguars began the drive on the Marauders' 26. Isaac Fleming-Steinberg and Jesse Cutting teamed up to sack Windham QB Joe Lorenz on 4th down, resulting in a turnover on downs by the Jaguars.

Just when it seemed like maybe Hanover started to get some momentum going they fumbled the ball once again. Cavallaro (who rushed for 80 yards and passed for 69 yards on the day) ran a QB keeper on 3rd and short, but after picking up the 1st down he got hit and the ball came loose. This time it was senior Dylan Swiderski who recovered the fumble for Windham.

This time the Jaguars started the drive on their own 42. Cannone ran for 28 yards, getting all the way down to the Hanover 12 yard line. That set up a 7 yard TD pass from Lorenz to Thomas Anderson (who had 112 total yards). With 15.6 seconds left in the 1st quarter it was 19-0 Windham.

A few minutes later it was yet another turnover by the Marauders. Senior Kevin Cooney (who also rushed for 30 yards) made a hard hit and solid tackle for no gain. Cooney then ran back in coverage and picked off a pass on his own 29 yard line which was thrown by Cavallaro. A few plays later Lorenz threw his second TD pass of the game, this time finding Bail from 15 yards out.

The Jaguars faked the extra point, and Frake threw it to Artem Aristov in the end zone for the 2 point conversion. Windham went into halftime on top 34-0 and the rout was on!

Jacob Estevez also played some tough defense for Windham, who now looks to gear up for their game next Friday night vs. St. Thomas in a rematch of last year's Division V title game.

In the 2nd half things got even worse for Hanover. Lorenz intercepted Cavallaro, and then he threw his third TD pass of the game. This time he found Cannone in the end zone from 15 yards out.

"Danny made the switch from tight end to running back this year" explained Lorenz. "But we still have some plays where the wing back goes out for passes so it's nice to have him to throw to. And on my interception, it helps being a quarterback because I know their tendencies and I can read his eyes and make the reads."

Hanover got their lone score on a 4 yard TD pass from Cavallaro to Cyrus Rothwell-Ferraris (71 total yards and a TD). That score did however come after Windham pulled their starters.

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