Athens Breaks 1st Half Tie to Down Wellsboro, 23-13
By: Ed Weaver | WellsboroFootball.com | September 17, 2022
The Athens Wildcats broke a tie ball game with a pair of 2nd half touchdowns and two-point conversions in a 23-13 win over the Wellsboro Varsity Football Team on Friday, September 16.
Wellsboro put together their best drive of the evening on their opening drive of the game. After the Wildcats deferred to the second half after winning the coin toss, senior Spencer Wetzel took the opening kickoff into Athens' territory at the 45. The drive lasted nine plays and was highlighted by a 10-yard pass from senior Conner Adams to Wetzel and a 16-yarder to senior Joe Brown to get the ball down inside the 10. Two plays later Adams fought his way into the end zone from one yard out. Senior Jack Poirier converted the extra point and the Hornets led 7-0 with 8:47 remaining in the opening frame.
After that opening drive, however, the Hornets got hit with the penalty bug. Wellsboro's second drive had four penalties alone, Wellsboro accumulated 12 for 100 yards throughout the game, stalling a second scoring attempt.
Wellsboro held on to their 7-0 lead until under the midway point of the 2nd quarter when the Wildcat's Mason Lister and Luke Horton connected on a 25-yard touchdown pass with 5:03 remaining to tie the game at 7-all.
Athens would break the tie late in the 3rd quarter on a 3-yard QB sneak by Lister. Rather than kicking the extra point, Wildcats head coach Jack Young opted to go for the two-point conversion, which the Wildcats connected on, making it 15-7.
Athens controlled the ball the majority of the fourth quarter and ran down the clock to just over a minute remaining before their final score. Aided by a roughing the snapper penalty on the Hornets, Athens turned a would-be punt into a 1st down at the Wellsboro 15. Two plays later, Caleb Nichols found a seam in the Hornet defense and scored from 17 yards out. Athens again went for the two-point conversion, and converted successfully, pushing their lead to 23-7 with 1:15 remaining.
On the ensuing kickoff Wetzel got the ball back into Wildcats territory at the 49. After a 13-yard run by Adams, and a personal foul for a late hit out of bounds, the Hornets had the ball at the Athens 21. Two plays later, Adams connected with freshman Marek Mascho on a 19-yard pass to cut the lead to 23-13 after the Hornets' two-point conversion attempt failed.
Similar to two weeks ago against Muncy, the Hornets lined up for the onside kick, but Athens recovered and took a knee on the following play to end the game.
Adams finished 15-of-24 for 127 yards and a touchdown through the air, and also rushed for 52 yards on 15 carries. Brown produced 19 yards on 5 carries, and also caught 6 passes for 55 yards. Sophomore Ryder Bowen also added 17 yards rushing on 6 attempts. Poirier caught 3 passes for 22 yards, while Mascho (19), sophomore Will Gastrock (2 for 18), and Wetzel (3 for 13) also caught passes.
Defensively Bowen made 21 tackles, senior Cameron Brought and junior Hayes Campbell each had 13 tackles and a sack, Will Gastrock added 8 stops, and Wetzel and Brown also added 7 tackles each.
The loss drops the Hornets to 0-4 (0-3 NTL Large School Division). The team hits the road next Friday for a division match up with the Towanda Black Knights (1-3, 1-2 NTL Large School Division).
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.