Joe Brennans grandmother asked him for just one present for her 68th birthday today, a touchdown in the Red and Blacks home opener.
After carrying the ball just three times for nine yards and losing a fumble in the first half, Brennan gained 45 yards on six carries on the opening drive of the third quarter, capping it off with an 11-yard touchdown run to deliver his grandmas present, and help Watertown beat Vermont, 23-13, on a steamy Saturday night at the Alex T. Duffy Fairgrounds.
It was a definite confidence booster, because all game, I felt like I couldnt get it going, said Brennan, who finished with 18 carries for 86 yards. And that series, I was able to follow my line, and they did a great job, they really did. It was a great feeling scoring, especially at the moment in the game, and it was a great push to get us going in the second half.
The win puts the Red and Black (3-1) in a tie for first place in the Empire Football League with Syracuse, which earned a 32-26 win over Albany on Saturday.
Vermont (2-2) dropped into a tie for fourth-place with three other teams.
The entire Watertown rushing attack, not just Brennan, looked like a different unit in the second half. The team ran for 192 yards on 29 carries after halftime, compared to just 21 yards on 10 carries in the first two quarters.
In the locker room, we straightened a lot of things up, Watertown center Jared Cook said. And we came out fired up. We were challenged, and we answered the challenge, and I think we answered it pretty well. The second half shows it.
The Ice Storm scored with just over eight minutes left to cut the Red and Black lead to 20-13, when quarterback Tim Kynoch threw a 44-yard touchdown to Stephan Paul. The duo connected on a pair of long pass plays on the series, which saw Vermont drive 88 yards in less than three minutes.
It was just falling into place, and that really got our momentum going, said Kynoch, who completed 10-of-33 passes for 209 yards. Unfortunately, we werent really able to keep that momentum on series to come. It just wasnt really connecting tonight.
Alex Tibbles led the Red and Black defensive effort with 13 tackles, including a pair of crucial third-down stops and several tackles behind the line of scrimmage. Linebacker Matt Kepler added 10 tackles.
Harold Taylor provided 83 yards rushing and seven carries for Watertown, including a 63-yard scamper to open a second-half drive from the teams own three-yard line.
Veteran Anthony Noel, making his season debut, added 24 yards on seven carries and a touchdown, all in the second half.
We got this new rotation with our backfield, and it seems to be affective, Brennan said. I think it was just the flow of the game. We got some momentum going in the second half, and I think that was really the difference, we just started moving.
Josh Cox and Dwohn Lucky each blocked a punt for Watertown.
Zach Grulich, the Red and Blacks bare-footed kicker, connected on three field goals, the last of which put his team up by 10 with under two minutes to play.
The Red and Black will host Monroe County, whom it beat 24-20 in last months season opener, at 7:30 p.m. Saturday at the Fairgrounds.