WATERTOWN — The Watertown Red and Black secured at least one Empire Football League home playoff game with a victory on Saturday night.
And the unseasonable weather conditions offered the Red and Black a preview of what it can expect when the playoffs begin this fall.
Red and Black quarterback Ryan Semor threw three touchdowns passes – two to Chris Furr and another to Edgar Givens – and the Watertown defense came up with three fourth-quarter interceptions to capture a 44-6 victory over the Glens Falls Greenjackets at the Alex T. Duffy Fairgrounds.
The Red and Black improved to 4-0 atop the EFL standings and clinched home field for a first-round playoff game, scheduled for Sept. 27. Watertown would clinch home field for the EFL title game by winning its final two games, at Glove Cities next Saturday and at Plattsburgh on Sept. 13.
“That’s very important for everybody, it’s a big morale booster for sure,” Semor said of playing the postseason at home. “The team, myself and the coaches, we can’t be more excited about having the first playoff game here. We put in the work and we were able to get that, and hopefully we can keep it here for the championship.”
A steady rain fell throughout the game and was heavy at times. With temperatures in the mid-50s and a wind that made it seem even colder, it felt more like mid-October than mid-August.
Several passes were dropped and the Red and Black finished with four fumbles, more than it had in its first three games combined.
“It’s an eye opener because this is what you can expect five-six weeks from now,” Red and Black coach George Ashcraft said. “This is what you’re going to get. Or you might be lucky and we’ll get that Indian summer come through.”
The Red and Black led just 20-6 at the start of the fourth quarter but the defense made a series of big plays to seal the win.
Greg Duckson picked off a pass by Glens Falls quarterback Frank Dore and returned it 30 yards for a touchdown to put Watertown up 27-6 with 11 minutes left.
Less than a minute later, Earlson Newell came up with an interception to set up a 10-yard touchdown run by Curtis Dukes that expanded the Red and Black to 34-6.
“To put 44 points up and not play well says a lot about our team,” Red and Black assistant coach/offensive coordinator Jerry Levine said. “Our defense really picked up in the third and fourth quarters, turned the ball over and gave us good field position.”
With a light rain falling through much of the first quarter, the Red and Black jumped out to an early 20-0 lead.
Semor threw a 52-yard touchdown pass to Furr less than a minute into the game. Later in the opening quarter, he tossed a 40-yard score to Givens then added a 26-yard TD pass to Furr.
“The ball was a little wet, but it was still not raining hard enough to affect the ball fluttering or anything like that and I was able to get the guys the ball,” said Semor, who completed 8 of 18 passes for 192 yards. “After that it started raining a lot more, it was wet and slippery and I was missing guys.”
Joe Brennan led the Red and Black rushing attack with a season-high 131 yards on 19 carries.
Dukes had two touchdown runs called back for penalties, including one of 75 yards. He finished with 115 yards on 20 carries.
“That type of stuff happens, you know, so it’s just one play at a time and you move on from it,” Dukes said.
Furr finished with three catches for 117 yards and Givens added 65 yards on four receptions.
Matt Kepler led the Red and Black defense with eight tackles.