South Williamsport ends Hornets season
By: Ed Weaver | WellsboroFootball.com | November 9, 2013
In a season full of firsts, the Wellsboro Varsity football team came up short on their quest for their first District IV playoff victory, as they fell to South Williamsport, 42-28.
The Hornets faced the area's top running back in Dominick Bragalone, but turnovers, penalties, and dropped passes eventually did the Hornets in.
"We hurt ourselves and put ourselves in this position and the plays we made all year we just came up a little short for some reason," said head coach Matt Hildebrand. "We did a good job for the most part on defense but offensively we didn't help ourselves out."
On the game's opening play from scrimmage, Bragalone raced 73 yards for a touchdown to put South Williamsport up 7-0 only 17 seconds into the game. After trading drives, where the Hornet defense caused a fumble, the Hornets put together a 16-play drive that ended with a 14 yard touchdown pass from Junior Michael Pietropola to Junior Kieron Smethers. After Junior Jack Chambers' extra point, the Hornets were tied 7-7.
South Williamsport went back to work on the ground and put together a 11-play drive capped by a one yard touchdown run by John Peters to go up 14-7 wih 8:40 left in the first half. South Willimsport shut Wellsboro down on their next drive, but turned the ball back over by a fumble to Wellsboro. The Hornets couldn't do anything deep in South's red zone as they intercepted Pietropola for the first of three times.
With just 53 seconds left on the clock South went to work and after a 21-yard run by Bragalone brought South into Wellsboro territory, the Mounties went to the air.
A personal foul on Wellsboro gave South the ball at the 28, and as the clock expired for the half, Matt Boone's pass was tipped in the air as Senior Jermain Brooks broke up a pass, but the ball bounced right into the hands of a waiting Riley Thomas who went into the end zone with no time left in the half. The kick failed and it was 20-7 South at the half.
The Hornets bounced right back in the start of the second half as Pietropola found Senior Dylan Prough for a 58 yard touchdown at the 10:39 mark of the third quarter to trail 20-14. The Hornets would cause their third turnover of the night on the following kickoff, but squandered excellent field position and were forced to punt the ball back to South.
South and Wellsboro traded drives from that point on until 9:22 left in the game as Bragalone scored from two yards out to take a 28-14 lead. The Hornets battled back just a minute later as Pietropola found end zone from 7 yards out to pull the Hornets within 7 points, trailing 28-21.
7 points would be the closest that Wellsboro would get from there on out, as Bragalone broke runs of 62 and 40 yards to give South a commanding 42-21 lead with 3:36 left in the game.
Wellsboro would add one more touchdown on the night with just under two minutes remaining as Brooks scored on a six yard run to bring the final score to 42-28.
Brooks became the Hornets' 14th rusher to post over 1,000 yards in a single season, and the team's first since Pat Driebelbies during the 2008 season. Brooks had 891 rushing yards on the season coming into the game and accumulated 129 yards on 19 carries to give him 1,020 for the season. Pietropola went 18-36 for 245 yards and 2 touchdowns, but threw three interceptions. Senior Brandon Owlett led the team with 104 yards on six receptions. Prough also added 90 yards on 6 catches.
Pietropola finished the season with 2,755 passing yards and 39 touchdowns and Owlett finished his season with 1,126 yards and 17 touchdowns.
"I couldn't be more proud of this group of seniors and group of men I got to be with all year," stated Hildebrand. "The entire team fought each and every week to bring a community together. The support we had all year was terrific, and it's all because of these kids. They put the work in to get to this point and they are deserving of all the praise they receive."
The future looks bright for Wellsboro football. From going 1-9 in 2009 and 2010 to 4-6 in 2011 and 5-5 in 2012 to 10-1 in 2013, Wellsboro football is in good hands under Coach Hildebrand and his staff.
"Our underclassmen gained a lot of experience this year that we'll be able to use going forward into next year," continued Hildebrand. "Obviously it didn't end the way we wanted it to tonight, but hopefully we can use tonight's loss to motivate us to work hard in the off season and get ready for 2014."