Hornet defense pitches second straight shutout
By: Ed Weaver | WellsboroFootball.com | September 3, 2016
For the second straight week the Wellsboro Varsity Football team's defense failed to allow any points, as they shutout Sayre 28-0 on Friday, September 2.
After the Hornets' opening drive went three-and-out, Sayre put together a six-play drive that chewed up most of the first quarter, but that too would stall on the Wellsboro 47-yard line forcing a Redskin punt. Freshman Aidan Hauser setup Wellsboro on their own 39-yard line after a 28 yard punt return and on the Hornets' third play of the series, senior Brandon Lamphier launched a deep pass to junior Dalton Prough for a 58 yard touchdown, Prough's first of his career, with 5:52 left in the opening quarter. Junior Nic Ingerick's extra point was true, and Wellsboro led 7-0.
The rest of the first half was a battle as Sayre continued their ground attack, putting together and 8-play drive and an 11-play drive. Wellsboro's defense managed to keep Sayre from getting inside the red zone on both drives, giving the visiting Hornets excellent field position, but a holding call and interception stopped both drives. At the half, Wellsboro still held on to their 7-0 lead.
"Last week and this week we've played a little tight and we need to find a way to start faster," said head coach Matt Hildebrand. "I don't know if its the long bus rides, but we're going to be on the road a lot this year so we need to figure out how to come out and be ready to play right from the start."
The Hornets flipped the script in the second half and held Sayre to just 7 offensive plays in the third quarter. With Sayre getting the ball to start, the Hornet defense held them on third down to punt, then Wellsboro put together a 9-play drive. Sayre forced Wellsboro to punt but were again forced to punt after a three-and-out. Wellsboro's offense went back to work as sophomore Robert Brown saw his first action of the season at fullback with runs of 2, 4, 12, and 1 yards before Lamphier hit Hauser for 15 yards with 5 seconds remaining in the third quarter to make it 14-0 after Ingerick's extra point.
Both teams exchanged drives in the fourth, with Wellsboro's ending in two turnovers, a fumble and interception, but the Hornet defense caused two turnovers of their own as juniors Alex Kozuhowski and Chase Moser recorded interceptions. Kozuhowski returned his 69 yards and Moser returned his for Wellsboro's third touchdown to make it 21-0 with 5:05 left in the game.
After another failed Sayre drive, the Hornets added their final points as Lamphier called his own number and raced 26 yards to the end zone with 1:02 left.
"We made some adjustments up front. The offensive linemen did a much better job in the second half," continued Hildebrand. "They really brought the pressure in the first half and we made some adjustments on how to block a few things and we were able to have some success and a little bit of 'flow' that we were lacking in the first half."
Offensively for Wellsboro Lamphier was 7-for-14 through the air for 130 yards and 2 touchdowns, and rushed 7 times for 45 yards and a score. Moser put up 25 yards on 7 carries and Brown had 60 yards on 11 attempts to lead the Hornets. Prough caught 2 passes for 69 yards and a score, Hauser caught 2 passes for 22 yards and a score, and senior Parker Jones hauled in a pass for 22 yards.
On defense, Jones led the team with 12 tackles and a sack and Brown made 11 stops. As a team, the Hornets held Sayre to 147 yards of total offense, with 111 of those yards coming from Sayre's Tylor Belles on 27 carries.
Next week, the Hornets travel to Athens, who lost 18-6 to North Penn-Mansfield, for a pivotal NTL Large School Division game.
"We're on the road again, with the same amount of travel, but we're going to need to find a way to start faster," Hildebrand concluded. "We got better as the game went on so that is a positive. We have to keep getting better each week we step on the football field. We need to have a good week of practice and come ready to play because Athens is no slouch. If we're not ready they're going to stick it to us."
Ed Weaver is the owner of Circle W Sports in Wellsboro, PA, is the Sports Director for The Home Page Network and the creator of WellsboroAthletics.com and WellsboroFootball.com. You can follow him on Twitter or friend him on Facebook.