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Somers falls a little short aganst Pioneers

Posted Friday, October 08, 2010 by Robert Lombardo

FOOTBALL — In the first half, Somers appeared sluggish. But that's nothing new; the Tuskers have been prone to slow starts. The second half, however, couldn't have started any better. Trailing Poughkeepsie 13-3 at halftime, they came out in the third quarter like they had an IV of Red Bull piercing through their veins.

It started with junior linebacker David Arturi forcing a fumble that was pounced on by senior Rob Mendoza in Pioneers territory. Then junior Chris Silva seemed to be stopped, but emerged from a crowd of Poughkeepsie players for a 47-yard touchdown run to cut the deficit to 13-10.

"I actually thought we were going to win the game (after Silva's touchdown)," Somers Head Coach Tony DeMatteo said. "What I told them at halftime is that we need one score in the third quarter. And if we go into the fourth quarter losing 13-10, we've got a great shot at winning."

Somers got what it needed in the third quarter, but couldn't muster much offense after that. The Tuskers fell to visiting Poughkeepsie, 20-10, on Oct. 1.

Despite the loss, DeMatteo sees improvement in his Tuskers (3-1).

"They gave me a tremendous effort," he said. "We just broke down here and there. We had great practices and we've definitely gotten better since the beginning of the season. We just want to keep getting better. We were much better [against Poughkeepsie] than we were the week before."

Poughkeepsie (4-0), who defeated Somers in the Class A quarterfinals last season, stretched the lead to 20-10 after Fabian Stone found Josh Oliver on an 11-yard touchdown pass on third-and-goal early in the fourth quarter.

Oliver burned the Tuskers for all three Pioneer touchdowns. In the first quarter, he raced 27-yards into the end zone to give Poughkeepsie an early 6-0 lead. DeMatteo disagreed with a pass interference call on third-and-13 that got the Pioneers into Tuskers territory to set up the score.

With 7:54 left in the first half, Oliver broke loose again on a 69-yard touchdown run to make it 13-0. At times the Tuskers' defense had Poughkeepsie's speedy backs bottled up, but then they broke loose for a big gain.

"They have a lot of athletic and fast players," said Arturi, who led the defense with 12 tackles. "They were able to turn the corner on us and we just weren't able to catch up to them."

DeMatteo said Poughkeepsie is "the fastest team I've seen since I've been coaching."

"Overall, [our defense] played well," DeMatteo said. "We had some breakdowns here and there and it cost us."

Missed opportunities also plagued the Tuskers. Early in the second quarter, a Kevin Murray interception that took Somers to the Pioneers 32, was followed by a fumble on the very next play, which was recovered by Poughkeepsie.

"Not putting the ball in the end zone off those turnovers was crucial," Arturi said. "You need to convert on turnovers to win and we just weren't able to do that."

"You can't win big games fumbling the ball," DeMatteo added.

Late in the first half, Somers was threatening at the Pioneers 9, but had to settle for a Tom Barcia 26-yard field goal.

Following Silva's touchdown, Arturi forced another Poughkeepsie fumble. But the ball bounced forward 10 yards and was recovered by Poughkeepsie, followed by a personal foul against Somers, to give the Pioneers possession at the Tuskers' 45.

Poughkeepsie turned the ball over after Tom Campbell deflected a pass on third down and Joe Hanley came up with a big stop on fourth. Somers failed to capitalize, going three-and-out after Silva was stuffed on third-and-1.

Somers was able to move the ball at times, but at other times the Tuskers struggled to get anything going against the fast defensive backs and linebackers, and mammoth defensive line of Poughkeepsie.

"We're still trying to find our way," DeMatteo said of the offense, which had scored 106 points through the first three games. "We've got to get more consistent."

The Tuskers had opportunities in the fourth quarter, but senior quarterback Anthony Lombardo (6 for 11, 85 yards) was intercepted when a pass was tipped up in the air and snagged by Jovan Wilkins.

Silva led the Tuskers on the ground with eight carries for 85 yards and caught two passes for 37 yards. Senior D.J. Giuntini had 10 carries for 42 yards.

Defensively, Lombardo had 11 tackles, while Mendoza added nine. Kieran Donohue blocked an extra point.

Unlike last season, where the loss to Poughkeepsie ended Somers' playoff run, DeMatteo knows the season is far from over.

"We still have the playoffs to look forward to, so we've just got to move on," he said.

Somers will try to rebound against host John Jay (3-1) on Saturday, Oct. 9.

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