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Red & Black game suspended after Albany locker room is intruded

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The Watertown Red and Black’s game against the Albany Metro Mallers was suspended at halftime on Saturday night after Albany’s team locker room was allegedly broken into and money, electronic devices and personal belongings were stolen.

A night during which Watertown Red and Black alumni were honored was interrupted after Albany players at halftime found money, iPads, cellphones and other possessions missing when they entered their locker room at the Alex T. Duffy Fairgrounds.

“It was kind of a rough game in the first half,” said Albany running back D.J. Jones, “and we got back to our locker room at halftime and everybody’s bags were open and items were missing. Cell phones were gone as well as money. This is crazy.”

“Money, iPads, all kinds of phones,” said Albany coach Tom Manny, “anything of value you can think of was taken from the entire team, including me, I’m a victim, too.”

The Albany team, which led 13-7 at halftime, did not return to the field, and Albany and Watertown coaches and game officials gathered on the field with Watertown police on the scene.

“I discussed it with a number of the players and that’s why the game is done,” Manny said. “There’s no way we could finish this game, unfortunately.”

Later, officials from both teams agreed that instead of declaring a forfeit by Albany — which would have awarded Watertown a victory — they decided to suspend the game and will defer to the Empire Football League for a ruling to possibly resume the game after halftime.

“The league will have to look at this,” Watertown coach George Ashcraft said. “I don’t know about the logistics as far as this goes, but there was no way we could continue this game — it was a terrible thing that happened.”

A Watertown police officer declined comment about the incident.

A similar incident occurred to Watertown’s 1993 team, as several Red and Black players’ wallets were stolen after the team bus was broken into during a game at Plattsburgh.

After a scoreless opening quarter on Saturday, the Metro Mallers scored two touchdowns with a span of 1 minute, 35 seconds in the second quarter.

Wide receiver Domo Henderson hauled in a 35-yard scoring strike from quarterback C.J. Tarver with 9:51 remaining until halftime. Four plays later, Albany blocked a Watertown punt and Jai Echols returned the ball 44 yards for a touchdown and led 13-0 as the point-after-touchdown kick was blocked by Watertown.

On its next possession, the Red and Black engineered a scoring drive of 66 yards in six plays, capped by halfback Joe Brennan’s seven-yard scoring run with 5:16 left.

Both teams expect league officials will make a ruling on Saturday’s game over whether the suspended contest will be resumed in the coming weeks.

The Red and Black (3-2) now have two weeks off with a bye next week and the entire league is idle over the Labor Day weekend. Albany hosts Amsterdam next Saturday.

“Now it’s like we have three weeks off,” Ashcraft said. “I feel for those guys (Albany), what happened is just wrong.”

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