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Philadelphia Ink Crier, October 11, 2009
Lakers Batter Slumping Baltimore, 24-7
100-Plus Yards for Jacobs, Bowe
Box   Drive Chart

Albany Sliced Onion, October 11, 2009
Racers Smacked by Charleston, 45-13
Fail Miserably in Bid to Tighten Grip on Divison Lead
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Richmond Timed Distant, October 11, 2009
Connecticut Stops Skid at Rebels’ Expense, 24-19
Blackmon’s Punt Return Turns Tide; Subsequent Rally Falls Short
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Providence Kernel, October 11, 2009
Hershey Pummels Steam Roller, 38-12, with 2nd Half Blitz
Pair of Fumbles Opens Floodgates; Defense Can’t Contain Portis
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New York Slimes, October 11, 2009
Empires Strike Early, Bomb Washington, 41-14
End Visitors’ 8-Game Streak with 31 Quick Points; Delhomme Sharp
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Wilmington Snooze-Terminal, October 12, 2009
Syracuse Downs Cherries, 27-14, to End Their Streak at 6
“Air Traffic Control” No Match for Rodgers, Jackson
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Wilmington Snooze-Terminal, October 12, 2009

Rip Snorter

Rodgers was Hot — Rivers was Not

For almost all of the first quarter yesterday, the Cherries’ defense looked primed for another strong performance. This time the victim would be former Delaware backup quarterback Aaron Rodgers, now the starter for the Syracuse Crush.

Rodgers managed to guide his offense to only one first down in the first three Syracuse possessions, facing 3rd and 10 or longer each time and failing to convert. The Delaware Stadium crowd reacted to each stop with a frenzied roar.

Meanwhile, Cherries quarterback Philip Rivers looked off his game. LaDainian Tomlinson, however, was on his, so Rivers was not a cause for concern — yet. Tomlinson’s 45-yard ramble off right tackle helped Delaware to a 7‑0 lead on the game’s opening possession, the score coming on a 2-yard run behind Willie Anderson on 3rd and goal.

All of the sudden, though, Rodgers solved the Cherries’ defense. On the last two plays of the quarter, Rodgers threaded throws to young DeSean Jackson for first downs. From that point on Rodgers was terrific, going over 200 yards passing before halftime and finishing with 334, with 33 completions in 49 attempts. Rivers, on the other hand, would never get untracked, going 18-for-40 for 168 yards, with 2 interceptions in easily his worst performance of the season.

Compare Rodgers’ morning with Rivers’ and the outcome — Crush 27, Cherries 14 — wasn’t surprising.

Which qualities of his game did Rodgers display most prominently?

Rodgers thought he should have gotten hot earlier than he did. “I’m happy with the win, but I was too tentative early on.” What of the outcome and the rivalry with Rivers? “It was nice to show up Philip in front of the Delaware fans — but I don’t have anything against him personally — or [the fans]. They were pretty supportive when I was [playing for the Cherries].”

Rivers tried to look forward after his lackluster outing. “I’ve gotta move past this. I played [poorly]. It happens. Aaron played better than I did, that’s for sure. But I’ve played even better games than he did today; and I know I will again — soon.”

The loss to Syracuse was predictable — especially after Saturday night when Washington’s 8-game winning streak was stopped in convincing fashion by New York, and Connecticut won in Richmond after having dropped 6 straight. So the Cherries merely followed suit by having their winning streak end at 6. It was that kind of weekend in the EFL.

Still, it hurts. Not only did the second place Emps win but so did Delaware’s other Central Division rivals, Philadelphia and Hershey. Furthermore, Jon Brams was clearly outcoached by John Heim of Syracuse.

Could the road to the Cherries’ salvation be … the road. That would be the road on which they have won 17 straight, the same road on which they play 3 of their last 4 regular season games, beginning with Saturday night at Connecticut.

The Cherries’ “Air Traffic Control” is likely to rebound — at least show up — against Comets’ quarterback Matt Cassell who was held by the Rebels to a paltry 9 completions and 71 passing yards. But Connecticut will have the memory of their 2008 EFL championship game loss to the Cherries from which to derive motivation.