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Cowboys fall prey to sloppy play



Published: Sat, November 10, 2001 @ 12:00 a.m.



Green took advantageof four fumbles to cruise past Chaney, 34-0.

By BRIAN RICHESSON

VINDICATOR SPORTS STAFF

BELOIT -- The Chaney High football team continually found ways to overcome adversity. It was just a matter of someone stepping up and making the big play.

The Cowboys waited and waited Friday in a Division II regional semifinal against Green at Heacock Stadium. No one answered the call.

"We've been in situations of urgency throughout the year and have always been able to respond," said Chaney coach Ron Berdis following his team's 34-0 loss. "If we're playing flat, there's something that occurs that picks us up. That didn't occur."

Ball control: What hampered Chaney (10-2) most was its inability to hold onto the ball. The Cowboys were affected most by four fumbles.

"We uncharacteristically put the ball on the ground -- things that we haven't done," Berdis said. "It just wasn't our night."

The biggest flurry for Green (9-3), however, came in a 20-point third quarter when it turned two Chaney fumbles into touchdowns, seemingly putting the game away.

"The last five weeks we've been playing well in big games," said Green coach Elden McVicker, whose team ousted Howland last week. "We're together for one cause, and today was another one of those causes."

With quarterback Chris Edwards, receiver Scott Casto and running back Brandon Oing, Green posed an offensive threat to Chaney.

The Bulldogs thrived even more when given high-percentage scoring opportunities following the fumbles.

"You'd have to be a blind man not to see that was a good football team across the field from us," Berdis said. "That's a credit to their program and preparation."

Chaney deficit: The momentum turned in the first half after Chaney fumbled the ball on consecutive possessions.

The first came at the end of a 15-play drive -- Chaney's first of the game -- when running back Ed McElroy took off toward the right corner of the end zone. McElroy was hit by Ken Beamer, and the ball bounced into the end zone for a touchback at the outset of the second quarter.

"You can speculate and say that was the turning point," Berdis said. "Certainly, it was a big play."

McVicker said of his defense during Chaney's drive, "We bent, bent, bent and then we had the big hit that caused the fumble."

On the third play of Chaney's next possession, quarterback Juan Serrano pitched to McElroy, but the ball bounced awry and Green recovered at the Cowboys' 27-yard line.

It took two plays for Edwards to reach the end zone. He found Casto in the middle of the field before the receiver faked a defender and sprinted for the touchdown with 7:56 remaining in the half.

"We haven't faced as prolific a passing attack as that this year," Berdis said.

Adding on: Green scored again right before halftime on Oing's 3-yard run. Oing carried the ball seven times on the nine-play march at 1:24 as the Bulldogs led 14-0.

McElroy, who totaled 104 yards on 17 carries, tried to cut Chaney's deficit in half when he sprinted 42 yards, but he was tackled at Green's 23 as time expired.

"We're not a high-tech passing attack," Berdis said when asked if he adjusted with his team trailing by 14 points at halftime. "We wanted to stick with what we came in trying to do. But if you put the ball on the ground, you're completely out of whack."

And that's what happened. Punter Charles Jaminet continued Chaney's ball-handling struggles on the first possession of the second half.

The senior retrieved his own fumble, looked downfield and threw incomplete, but the Cowboys were penalized for an illegal man downfield and Green took over at Chaney's 29.

Oing scored three plays later from 4 yards and added a 26-yard touchdown run after McElroy fumbled on the first play of Chaney's next possession. Oing, who rushed for 102 yards, scored his third touchdown of the quarter -- and fourth of the game -- on a 3-yard run.

Asked about the mental side of the continued fumbles, Berdis said, "Who knows what happens to a 16-year-old's psyche when things go bad and something good doesn't happen?"

Waiting for 100: Berdis now must wait until next season to reach his 100th career victory, but he downplayed missing that accomplishment after the game.

"Winning a couple of close ones early really got everybody excited, and what a credit to these seniors," Berdis said. "I'm sorry for them. The 100th win means nothing to me, but I wanted the season to continue for the seniors."

richesson@vindy.com




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