Hornets top Wyalusing 21-13 on Senior Night
By: Ed Weaver | WellsboroFootball.com | October 24, 2015
The Wellsboro Varsity Football team won its final home game of the season as they hung on to beat Wyalusing 21-13 on Friday, October 23.
"It wasn't our prettiest win, but it is a win," said Wellsboro head coach Matt Hildebrand. "I'm looking back and second guessing myself on some of the coaching decisions I made but we controlled the ball very well tonight. We didn't put the ball in the end zone there towards the end, but our defense came up big with more great plays and we got the win and that's all that matters moving forward."
In a night where the 2016 senior class was honored in their final home game, it was also the last time the Hornets will play at the current stadium, as the new athletic complex will take its place with construction starting next spring in time for the start of the 2016 football season.
"I'm very proud of these seniors and it was important to the staff to send them out right," Hildebrand continued. "They've been on this field for four years and have never had a set of bleachers for fans and parents to watch them from, and its just a special night for them to go out with a win. This class has done things not many have expected of them and these guys are the winningest class to go through Wellsboro football history I think right now and I'm just really proud of these kids."
The Hornets got off to a rocky start as an early fumble game Wyalusing the ball and great field position, but the Hornet defense, like the have done all year to date, played huge and limited the NTL's top running back Luke Jennings to only 116 yards and one touchdown on the night. The turnover proved harmless as Wyalusing's opening 11-play drive ended on fourth down at the Wellsboro 20-yard line.
The Hornets moved the ball well on its next drive as sophomore quarterback Quinn Henry hit junior Brandon Lamphier for 39 yards, then hit sophomore Johnny Rowland for 19 to get down to the Wyalusing 11-yard line. The drive stalled on fourth down as Henry rushed for 7 yards down to the Wyalusing 1-yard line, but came up inches short of the first down giving the Rams back the ball.
Both teams exchanged drives and it wasn't until a sack-fumble caused by junior Parker Jones gave the Hornets life. Lamphier got under center for this drive and found Henry for 23 yards down to the Wyalusing 3-yard line, where Henry finished the drive a few plays later from a yard out with 4:26 left in the first half to make it 7-0 after sophomore Nic Ingerick's extra point.
Wyalusing answered immediately as Jennings rushed the ball six times on the next drive. A 23 yard pass from Calvin Burke to Ryan Kipp setup the Rams with first-and-goal from the Wellsboro 7-yard line where Jennings went off right-tackle and into the end zone to tie the game at 7-7 with 52 seconds left in the half.
Wellsboro got off to a better start in the second half as the defense caused back-to-back turnovers. An interception on Wyalusing's first drive and a lost fumble on the second gave the Hornets the ball at the Rams' 12-yard line. It took two plays as Lamphier hit Henry from 9 yards out to make the score 14-7 Wellsboro with 8:35 left in the third quarter.
Both teams traded drives as the third quarter ended and fourth quarter started. The Hornet defense forced another fumble at midfield and the Hornet offense went back to work. The Hornets chipped away yards on short runs, but senior Nick Tremper broke a 22-yard run to give the Hornets a first-and-goal from the 1-yard line. Two plays later freshman Robert Brown punched the ball in from a yard out to put the Hornets up 21-7 with 9:29 left in the game.
Wyalusing didn't let the Hornet score get them down as they went back to work on scored on their next drive. Jennings broke off a 20-yard run, his longest of the night, on the next drive, then a 13-yard run a couple plays later to get inside the Wellsboro 30-yard line. Two plays later, Kipp broke free from 20 yards out for a touchdown, but missed the following extra point wide left, making the score 21-13 with 6:50 left.
The Hornets went back to work on the next drive, and after a 25 yard kick return by sophomore Chase Moser to midfield, they turned to their workhorse to wear the defense down. Tremper carried three straight times for a first down, the Henry broke free for a 34 yard gain down to the Wyalusing 5-yard line. A penalty back the Hornets up 5 yards, but Tremper got the yardage back the next play. Two more Tremper runs got the ball down to the 1-yard line. Facing fourth down, the Hornets opted for points and sent Ingerick out to attempt a field goal. The kick missed and Wyalusing took over at their own 20-yard line.
"If we get the field goal and those three points that puts the game out of reach," Hildebrand said. "You second guess yourself and its easy to look back on it now that the game is over but we got the win. We're all in this together, and that's something I tell the kids all the time. When I make a mistake the kids are there to pick me up and vice versa."
The Hornet defense ended Wyalusing's next drive on a interception, but the Hornets were unable to do anything offensively and punted the football back to the Rams. Wyalusing's next play ended with the same result as the Hornet defense picked off Burke for the third and final time with a handful of time remaining to secure the victory.
Lamphier finished the game 7-for-11 for 73 yards and a touchdown passing and Henry was 3-for-4 for 68 yards. Tremper was the leading rusher on the night with 18 carries for 81 yards, and Henry added 52 yards and a touchdown on 9 carries. Henry also led the Wellsboro receivers with 6 catches for 57 yards and a touchdown. Jones had two catches for 26 yards, Rowland had 1 for 19, and Lamphier had 1 for 39.
Defensively, Tremper led the way with 15 tackles, his second straight double-digit tackle game and fifth of the season giving him 92 on the year. Jones added 11 tackles, a sack, and forced fumble, Brown added 10 tackles from his linebacker spot, Lamphier had 8 tackles, and sophomore Collin Pietropola had six stops. Pietropola and senior defensive tackle Owen Covert recovered fumbles on the night and Henry, Moser, and Lamphier had the three interceptions.
"Wyalusing has a college-caliber offensive line with the size of those guys," Hildebrand said. "The guys played a great defensive game and it was great to get a win over them. Wyalusing is a great team and Jennings is an exceptional back. He's in his third year of over 1,000 yards and frankly he's a stud. To limit a guy like that will be huge for us moving forward as we wind down the regular season and get into playoffs."
The Hornets improve to 7-1 (2-1 NTL Division 1) on the year and have virtually locked up the #1 seed in District IV Class A playoffs and home field advantage. Next week the Hornets travel to Towanda (1-7, 1-2 NTL Division 1) to take on the Black Knights.
"We can't take Towanda lightly next week," Hildebrand said of his week nine opponent. "Jamie Wecker is a great coach over there and any time you go over there it is a tough environment to play in. I don't care what they're record is at this point in the season because we have to be ready. Coach Wecker is going to have his kids ready for us and he's a great coach so we need to have another great week of practice."