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New York Slimes, October 26, 2008
Empires “Hit, Pitch” Way to 8-3 Win Over Charleston
Hold Cannons to 152 Yards, Pick Off 4 Manning Passes
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Wilmington Snooze-Terminal, October 26, 2008
Sheppard, Tomlinson Lead Cherries Past Providence, 23-17
Pair of Late Kasay Field Goals Breaks Deadlock
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Albany Sliced Onion, October 26, 2008
Too Little, Too Late for Racers in 22-18 Loss to Hershey
Comeback Short-Circuited by 2 Wilkins Misses
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Richmond Timed Distant, October 26, 2008
Rebels Spank Syracuse, 34-17, Behind McNabb, Smith, Clayton
Ascend to 3rd Place with 2nd Consecutive Win
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Philadelphia Ink Crier, October 26, 2008
Washington Muffles Lakers’ Ground Game, 21-7
Jacobs Held to 46 Yards as Playoff Hopes Vanish
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Hartford Crude Rant, October 27, 2008
Kaeding Kicks Game-Winner as Comets Edge Baltimore, 34-31
Go 2 Games Ahead in Division With 2 To Play
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Wilmington Snooze-Terminal, October 26, 2008

Rip Snorter

Slow and Steady Yields Winning Points for Cherries

Taking over possession on their own 17 with the score tied at 17 and 12:46 left, the Cherries could afford to melt some clock — as long as they managed to put some points on the board. Melt it they did … 9 minutes later they had a 4th and goal on the Providence 2.

While a touchdown would have been nice — and would have gone a long way toward easing or even preventing the anxiety which was to follow — the only real option was to bring on John Kasay for a field goal attempt. Kasay hit it to put the Cherries back in front, 20‑17, and they went on to post their 10th win of the season, 23‑17.

During that epic 19-play, 81-yard march, the Cherries accumulated 6 first downs. The drive exemplified their offensive versality. Yes, there was a healthy dose of LaDainian Tomlinson — 7 rushes for 36 of his total ground output of 90 yards — but several other members of the unit made key plays:

There was tension in the air right down to the last snap, though. Down by 6 in the last two minutes, the Steam Roller got great field position on a poorly covered kickoff return by Aundrae Allison and closed to within 26 yards of a potential go-ahead touchdown. Glass half empty-types among Cherries partisans — like myself — were looking at the scoreboard and envisioning a painful 24‑23 loss. But big plays on the last two snaps by Kenyon Coleman — a sack, the Cherries’ first in three weeks — and Brian Dawkins — a knocked down long pass intended for Torry Holt — preserved the win.

Indeed, nothing came easy for the Cherries against Providence. They thought they were getting a break when Steam Roller coach Ri Divine ran up the white flag for the season and opted to start Gus Frerotte at quarterback over Marc Bulger. But Frerotte made a number of well-timed throws, in particular to Wes Welker. Frerotte’s 222-yard performance recalled to some degree, in fact, his mid-’90s work for the Rebels, with one notable exception: the 3 first half interceptions he threw to Lito Sheppard.

Sheppard’s acccomplishment was the bright spot in the first half for the Cherries’ defense. They otherwise started slowly, a failing which seems to have become a chronic problem. Dante Hall didn’t help matters by fumbling away Derrick Frost’s first punt, effectively giving the Steam Roller a 3‑0 lead. Hall would make up for that in the second quarter, just after Heath Evans had scored to give Providence a 10‑3 lead with 7:44 left in the half. Mike Nugent’s ensuing kickoff was caught by Hall on the 6. He angled toward the right sideline, broke into the clear outside the 35, and made it all the way to the Steam Roller 10 before he was tripped up. It was Hall’s second 84-yard kick return in the last three games.

Two plays later Tomlinson ran in from the 2 to knot the score at 10, meaning Providence’s only signficant lead of the game lasted a mere minute and 16 seconds. Five minutes later Tomlinson caught an 8-yard scoring pass from Rivers to cap a 17-point Cherries burst in the second quarter. It was Tomlinson’s 5th touchdown in the last 2 games. While Rivers has piloted the Delaware offense adroitly since he became the starter last season, one can’t deny it’s Tomlinson that provides the spark.

As hard as it may be to believe, the Cherries may need an 11th win to secure a spot in the playoffs. Among their closest competitors, the Emps and the Caps both won last night. The other close competitor, Baltimore, plays in Connecticut this morning. The way the Northern Division teams have fared this season, you can just about count upon the Bolts further muddying the playoff waters.

With divisional tests for the Cherries looming against Philadelphia and at New York, they may be able to use another 9-minute scoring drive — or two — during crunch times. Lightning strikes sure help — just ask Dante Hall — but the surest route to victory is often slow and steady, with ample clock meltage.

Wilmington Snooze-Terminal, October 27, 2008

Comets’ Win Goes Long Way Toward Clarifying EFL Playoff Picture

by Rip Snorter
The 34‑31 victory yesterday by the Connecticut Comets over the Baltimore Bolts did a lot — a whole lot — to clarify the playoff picture in the EFL. Did it mean the Cherries, with their league-best 10‑2 record, will be in the playoffs? No, but the odds are very much in their favor — more on that later.

There are seven teams still in contention for the four playoff berths. Albany (4‑8), Baltimore (8‑4), and Hershey (7‑5) are real long shots. The most likely playoff match-ups by far are Delaware-New York and Washington-Connecticut. Here are the basics:

A Delaware-New York playoff match-up would be a rematch of last season’s semi-final playoff game in which the Emps upset heavily-favored Delaware, 29‑24. The game would be at Delaware, like last season’s game, unless New York wins the division title, which would happen only if the Cherries lose their remaining games and New York wins theirs.

Okay, so you’ve probably figured out by now that the Cherries would not make the playoffs only if they lose to both the Lakers and the Emps and the Bolts beat the Rebels and the Caps. But it’s not that simple. Because the Cherries hold the tiebreaker over the Caps and the Bolts hold the tiebreaker over the Cherries, due to head-to-head play, two more things would have to happen for the Cherries to end up on the outside looking in: