Tappan Zee’s Running Game Too Much for Foxes

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From top to bottom, Tappan Zee’s 2012 football roster is stockpiled with running backs. But one position missing from that roster card that’s considered essential for most offenses is a listed quarterback.

The Dutchmen’s single-wing offense might be unorthodox, but what it lacks in a traditional signal caller, it makes up in explosive playmakers and creative license. Those components wore down host Fox Lane just enough Saturday.

Led by one of the top area running backs in senior Joe Letizia, Tappan Zee and its countless running options topped the Foxes 21-7 at a half-filled Memorial Stadium. To its credit, Fox Lane stuck with Tappan Zee for three quarters, but eventually was subdued by a relentless rushing attack.

“(We) just kept running the same plays at them, right up the middle,” said Letizia, who finished with 134 rushing yards. “They kind of got tired and we just did our thing.”

Going into the fourth quarter, the teams were knotted at 7-7, but Tappan Zee was knocking on the door. Letizia and the Dutchmen methodically marched down the field, getting running lanes from a sturdy offensive line. Whether it was slashing through the middle or dancing on the outside, Letizia advanced the ball to the six-yard line for a first and goal.

Then he showed his power.

Taking a direct snap, Letizia ran right up the gut, only to meet Fox Lane’s Bryan Maidana at the three-yard line. Rather than fall to the turf, Letizia put his head down and pushed his way through the senior linebacker, landing in the end zone to cap off a 12-play scoring drive. For the first time in the game, Tappan Zee was ahead. Though the extra-point attempt was blocked, the Dutchmen held a six-point advantage.

“We’re right there every time, just a block away from a breakaway run,” Letizia said. “So I just keep telling my line to push forward and I’ll find the rest of the holes.”

Once Tappan Zee got the lead, it added to its advantage. Fox Lane’s defense just couldn’t get off the field. Converting on two fourth-down plays, Tappan Zee gobbled up valuable time and then scored from a yard away when junior Giuseppe Maddalena punched it. A successful two-point conversion increased the Dutchmen lead to 14 points.

From the sidelines, Fox Lane head coach Steve Quinn could sense his defense was starting to tire.

“They were moving the ball,” said Quinn about the Dutchmen. “They’re a good team. They run that offense pretty well and I think they were more physical than we were as the game progressed and that’s what the difference was.”

The Foxes’ offense was able to show that physicality right out of the gate, using a run- heavy offense of its own to jump out to a first-quarter lead. Setting up shop at their own 36-yard line, the Foxes ran the ball with five different rushers touching the ball on the opening drive alone. 14 plays and 64 yards later, Chris Manjuck dove forward for the score and a 7-0 lead.

A drive that ate up six minutes of clock is what Quinn needed from his offense. The best way to defend a shifty attack from Tappan Zee was to prevent its offense from getting on the field.

“That was the goal,” said Quinn. “It was to take as much time off the clock, move the ball. “We executed, then they started making some adjustments.We didn’t execute well enough to win the game.”

Despite watching his Foxes drop to 1-2 on the year, Quinn said he sees winnable games coming up on the schedule, starting with Lakeland next week. If his team plays well, and has a short memory, they have the opportunity to bounce back.

Asked what he told his players shortly after time had run out, Quinn said, “Not to hang our head. To be disappointed that we didn’t win the game, but don’t let this linger.”





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