Stuyvesant Blown Out by Cardozo in Stormy Opener
By Matthew Moy
Thunderstorms and heavy winds before kickoff set up a muddy field and a sloppy football game for the Stuyvesant Peglegs. Carried by a strong running game, Cardozo scored 42 unanswered points and won the season opener, 42-7.
“We knew that this was going to be one of the toughest games that we’re going to play all year because they’ve returned all of their starters,” Head Coach Mark Strasser said. Last season, Cardozo defeated the Peglegs 12-9 to close out their season.
Cardozo started off the game with a solid 39-yard kick return, which placed them in prime field position. Four first downs and two painful offside penalties by the Peglegs later, Cardozo ran in for an easy touchdown.
Both teams went three and out on their next possessions. On their second possession, the Peglegs moved the chains twice but turned the ball over on downs after a questionable non-call by the referee on what appeared to be pass interference. “When asked why [the referee] hadn’t thrown a flag, he said, ‘I don’t have a flag, the other guy has it,’” junior Clay Walsh said. That non-call ended the Peglegs’ strong response, and then Cardozo continued to build their lead.
Cardozo took over in the second quarter and had three runs for major yardage. Junior Solomon Quinn took over as quarterback after senior and co-captain Alen Makhmudov left the game with an ankle sprain after being tackled on a run play. Following the substitution, the Peglegs gave up the ball on an interception and a fumble, and Cardozo scored three more times to close out the half with a 36-0 lead.
The Peglegs woes continued into the third quarter when they fumbled deep in their own territory, and Cardozo capitalized with another touchdown run. On the Peglegs’ ensuing drive, however, they marched down the field after several receptions. Senior and co-captain Nathaniel Biggs scored the Peglegs’ first and only touchdown on a leaping catch along the end zone sideline.
Despite Biggs’ impressive touchdown, Peglegs executed poorly throughout the game. “We had some bad throws, some drops, and some missed blocks,” Makhmudov said. “When the ball gets wet, it’s hard to pass. That could have played a role.”
Despite the negatives, the team’s new hurry-up offense was effective at times. “It worked pretty well. They got caught off guard a couple of times. We didn’t run it as much as I expected. It was pretty tiring but I think we fought through it pretty well,” Biggs said.
One aspect the Peglegs will have to work on is their mental attitude after falling behind. “The second quarter, you could see the body language of the players. You could see them sag and their heads go down a little. During halftime, we said that we’re going to play it like it’s a 0-0 game, and going back to the second half we beat [Cardozo] 7-6,” Strasser said. “We’re going to take that momentum and bring it to the next game.”
Quinn to Biggs Connection Beats Blackhawks
By Joel Beacher
A sense of anxiety swept the Stuyvesant Peglegs before their first home game on Friday, September 14, as they set out to avoid starting the season 0-2. The Peglegs were without starting quarterback Alen Makhmudov due to an ankle injury, but they showed resolve, and led by their defense, came out with a 12-6 victory over the Information Technology Blackhawks.
Information Technology got off to a quick start with a passing touchdown to take the lead. However, not only would this be their last touchdown, it would be their last completed pass for the entire game. The Peglegs defense turned it on, forcing 11 incompletions and intercepting two passes out of 14 total by Information Technology quarterback, Andre Suwuh.
After the first quarter, Stuyvesant controlled the game. They got excellent running efforts from senior and co-captain John Haggerty and senior Cooper Weaver, who together averaged 4.70 yards per carry for a total of 155 yards on 33 carries.
The star of the game for Stuyvesant was junior quarterback Solomon Quinn, who threw for 147 yards and both of Stuyvesant’s touchdowns, in a replacement effort for Makhmudov. He completed 8 of his 16 passes, and led the team to a victory after a rough opening loss.
“A few throws got away from me at first, but after that, I got more comfortable and relaxed,” Quinn said. “This was a really important win for us, because we did not want to start the season 0-2.”
The Peglegs were able to tie the game at six with a touchdown pass from Quinn to senior wide-out Gabriel Hurwitz in the third quarter. And late in the fourth, they scored the game-winner, dispelling memories of a tough loss in their season opener and getting them back in the playoff hunt.
Quinn found senior and co-captain Nathaniel Biggs along the sideline on a deep-out route, and after two broken tackles and a stiff arm on a Blackhawk chasing him down from the inside, Biggs crossed the plane on a 50-yard play.
“It was late in the fourth quarter and I hadn’t really done much all game offensively,” Biggs said. “I don’t think the play was called with a touchdown in mind—we just wanted to keep a good drive moving. But we got lucky and got the game winning score off of it.”
Makhmudov Leads Peglegs with 302 Passing Yards in Return
By Samantha Lau and Matthew Moy
Riding the momentum of their first win of the season, the Peglegs went into their game against the Far Rockaway Seahorses on Friday, September 21 with a strong spirit and got first blood as a result, scoring a touchdown within the first three minutes of the game. Even though it was senior and co-captain Alen Makhmudov’s first game back after leaving in the second quarter of the team’s first game due to an ankle injury, he managed to throw for 302 yards.
After the Peglegs’ touchdown, Far Rockaway countered with a touchdown on their first drive. The seesaw action continued in the second quarter, as the Peglegs scored first, but the Seahorses quickly responded. Going into the half, the Peglegs had a narrow 13-12 lead.
“We made a couple of adjustments at half-time—our lining worked getting into the second level. And we made a few adjustments to counteract what adjustments they made in the second quarter,” Head Coach Mark Strasser said.
In the third quarter, after Far Rockaway was stopped on an extended drive, the Peglegs marched back downfield and scored to jump out to a 20-12 lead. On the ensuing kickoff, Far Rockaway returned the ball to the 50-yard line. With excellent field position, the Seahorses scored on a 50-yard touchdown run and tied the game at 20-20 with a two-point conversion.
In the fourth, senior wide-out Gabriel Hurwitz broke off a 40-yard gain and then senior and co-captain Nathaniel Biggs caught a touchdown pass from Makhmudov. Hurwitz converted the extra point, putting the Peglegs up by seven. After the Seahorses were stopped on the following drive, the Peglegs got within field goal range and Hurwitz made a 30-yard field goal to put the Peglegs up by 10. Far Rockaway came back with two big runs and scored as time expired, but it was too little, too late.
Although the Peglegs’ defense struggled, they managed to hold it together and pull through for a 30-28 win, improving to 2-1 on the season. “We have to get a little bit better on defense. We got beat on a lot of long plays,” Strasser said. “We have to cut that down, and once we do that, then we’ll be able to beat anybody.”
After blowing out the Seahorses in their 2011 campaign 30-8, the Peglegs were caught a bit off guard by their opponent’s offensive ability. “I knew the team was a little bit weaker than us, but I think I underestimated them a bit too much,” sophomore Cooper Weaver said.
However, the mainly aerial offense was strong throughout, led by Makhmudov’s strong passing performance. Going into their next game against the 3-0 Franklin K. Lane Campus Knights, the Peglegs hope to make many defensive adjustments and to have their offense further bolstered by the return of senior running back Werner Zhanay.
Peglegs Power Past First Place Franklin K. Lane
By Jing Lin
With the score tied at eight at the start of the third quarter, Peglegs’ sophomore Cooper Weaver took snaps in the Wildcat formation and ran the ball through the Franklin Lane Campus Knights’ defense relentlessly. He had four carries for 30 yards on the drive, and 10 for 44 total in the game. Following a Weaver run, senior and co-captain Alen Makhmudov dropped back and threw a bullet pass to senior wide-out Gabriel Hurwitz, who made the catch with his arms fully extended over his head and then fell into the end zone. The touchdown gave the Peglegs a 15-8 lead.
“When Gabe caught that pass—it was a great pass—I knew I had faith in my receivers that they could catch anything,” Makhmudov said. With a balanced passing and rushing attack on offense, the Stuyvesant Peglegs played inspired against the first place Knights, and came out with a decisive 21-8 victory on Saturday, September 29.
Even prior to the go-ahead play in the third quarter, the Peglegs kept the Knights at bay. The team had worked diligently in practice to prepare for the opposing offense. “We planned on outside containment, trying to push the play inside so our linebackers could clean it up. I think our safety lining and other corners did a good job squeezing them in,” Hurwitz said. The Stuyvesant defense limited the Knights’ running game and completely eliminated their aerial attack, as they went 1-2 for nine yards passing.
After a change in offensive strategy at halftime, the Peglegs scored 13 unanswered points. “Once they got a little bit tired, they weren’t blitzing as much and we thought we could pound [the ball],” Head Coach Mark Strasser said. “It was mostly because of their fatigue and we saw that. We felt we were in a little bit better shape.” Leading the ground game was senior Werner Zhanay, who had 14 carries for 66 yards in his return from a suspension.
But the team was clearly led by Makhmudov, who was awarded the game’s Most Valuable Player trophy by NYCFootball.com as part of their coverage on the city’s Game of the Week. He threw for 184 yards and three touchdowns—two to Hurwitz, and one to senior and co-captain Nathaniel Biggs in the fourth quarter to seal the game.
With the victory, the Peglegs are now tied at the top of the Cup Division with a 3-1 record. The team’s confidence heading into the stretch run will be key, as they fight for their first playoff appearance in 15 years. When asked if this was still a championship or bust season, Makhmudov aptly responded, “It still is.”