GLENS FALLS — Turnovers and missed opportunities — including one of each in the opening minutes of the game — spelled the difference in a season-opening loss for the Glens Falls Greenjackets.
The Jackets suffered five momentum-killing turnovers Saturday night in a 27-13 Empire Football League loss to the Tri-City Spartans at East Field.
“There’s nothing else to blame it on but the five turnovers — that took the wind right out of our sails,” head coach Raymond Swann said. “We ran and passed well enough to get the job done, but they had one or two big plays and we gave them good field position on turnovers.”
“Too many missed keys and mistakes on defense,” veteran defensive back Tyler Brown said. “We could’ve played a lot cleaner. Our offense turned the ball over, but as a defense, we’ve got to be able to back them up and make stops.”
The Greenjackets stopped themselves as much as anything, and on their first possession, no less.
After Terry McCray recovered a bad punt snap for Glens Falls at the Tri-City 14-yard line, Quentin Austin ran the ball to the 4 on first down. However, the Jackets squandered a golden opportunity with a fumble on the next play.
Glens Falls scored on its next possession, as quarterback Jon Hammond squeezed into the end zone from the 1-yard line for a 7-0 lead on the first play of the second quarter.
Then the Jackets got another huge opportunity on the ensuing kickoff, which Brown recovered at the Spartans’ 34. However, the drive ended on downs after a net gain of 3 yards.
Glens Falls’ last two possessions of the first half ended with a fumble and a punt. Tri-City, which managed little offense for most of the half, put together a quick five-play drive for a touchdown to cut the Jackets’ lead to 7-6 at halftime.
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“That’s the tough part — we could’ve been up 21-0 at the half,” Swann said. “That game was ours. Our turnovers cost us the game.”
In the second half, the Spartans’ offense woke up and took advantage of missed tackles and defensive breakdowns, as Lawrence Elliot and Felix Rodriguez broke loose for long touchdown runs.
Another Jackets fumble led to Kirieme Pitts’ second TD of the night to extend Tri-City’s lead to 27-7 early in the fourth quarter.
The Jackets lost Hammond and Austin to injuries in the third, but got a spark from backup quarterback Jake Nemec. Nemec completed three passes and drove the team to a 1-yard touchdown run by fellow rookie Darius Wicks midway through the fourth quarter.
Glens Falls managed a net gain of 57 yards on the ground and 111 through the air. However, the Jackets fumbled six times, losing three of them, and threw two interceptions.
The Jackets have an open date next week, but return to action on July 27 with a home game against the Watertown Red & Black.
“It’s a tough first game, but we’ve got two weeks until our next game,” Brown said. “We’ll go back to the drawing board, clean things up and get back to work.”