Montoursville Rallies With 21-Point 3rd Quarter to Defeat Wellsboro
By: Ed Weaver | WellsboroFootball.com | August 27, 2022
Montoursville put together a 21-point 3rd quarter rally to edge the Wellsboro Varsity Football team, 21-14, in the season-opening game on Friday, August 26.
"We made some mistakes where we can't afford to make them," said Hornet head coach Matt Hildebrand. "We knew it was going to be a dog fight, they obviously have some stuff going on in their program and were riding an emotional high coming out of the locker room at halftime, and we put the ball on the ground on the first snap of the offensive series coming out of the half and gave them the momentum. We can't afford to do that, we're not deep enough to make up enough for those mistakes."
Trailing 14-0 the Warriors forced a Wellsboro fumble on the first offensive play from scrimmage to open the second half and took over on the Wellsboro 26 and later scored on an 18-yard touchdown run from Matt Conklin on 4th and two, cutting the lead to 14-7. A personal foul on the Hornets' ensuing kick return wiped out a touchdown, and following a stalled drive, the Warriors took back over at their 46. A 6-yard run by Conklin moved the ball back into Wellsboro territory when quarterback Bryce Eberhart connected with wide out Marco Pulizzi on a 48-yard pass that tied the game at 14-all with 8:41 remaining in the third.
Wellsboro's third drive on the quarter stalled handing the ball back to the Warriors, who in turn went back to the air. Eberhart and Pulizzi connected again, this time on a 71-yard bomb down the Wellsboro sideline to put the Warriors in front, 21-14, with 1:44 remaining in the quarter.
Prior to the 3rd quarter the game started out in Wellsboro's favor. After James Batkowski's opening kick return was called back on a penalty, both teams traded opening drives ending in punts. On the Warriors second drive of the game the Hornet defense forced a Batkowski fumble, giving Wellsboro the ball near midfield. Senior Conner Adams then led a 10-play, 48 yard drive that culminated in a 5-yard touchdown pass to senior Spencer Wetzel, putting the Hornets on top 7-0 with 4:31 remaining.
Later in the 2nd quarter the Wellsboro defense caused another fumble, this time on a pass play from Eberhart to Conklin, that the Hornets picked up a the Montoursville 42. Following a 26-yard pass from Adams to senior Joe Brown down to the 6, Adams called his own number and caught the left corner on 3rd down to put Wellsboro on top, 14-0.
"They scored 21 points but the defense played well all night," continued Hildebrand. "We know we're not going to shut people out all year, and we told the kids that every game is going to be a dog fight. Our schedule is a killer and every single week we're going to be in the same situation but we have to capitalize when we have the opportunity. I thought we left some stuff out there in terms of missed interceptions, but they hit a couple big plays but for the most part we stopped them all night. It's a frustrating loss. It burns, the kids are upset, but you want them to be upset because they care. It's not going to get any easier from here on out. The effort we saw tonight is going to win football games, I truly believe that. They just have to keep fighting. They're a great group of kids and the fight you saw is what you like. We just have to clean stuff up."
Adams finished 12-of-18 through the air for 110 yards and a touchdown. He also rushed 23 times for 14 yards to lead the Hornet group attack. Brown finished with 11 yards on 7 carries and also caught 5 passes for 47 yards. Wetzel finished with 2 receptions for 34 yards and sophomore Will Gastrock caught 1 pass for 22 yards.
Senior Cameron Brought led the Hornets with 10 tackles, Brown had 7, Adams made 6 stops and caused/recovered a fumble, and senior Wyatt Gastrock made 5 stops and had a sack. Ryder Bowen also caused and recovered a fumble and Wetzel came up with an interception as the 1st half drew to a close.
Eberhart went 9-for-16 passing for 168 yards, 151 of them going to Pulizzi on 7 receptions. Conklin rushed 9 times for 56 yards.
Next week the Hornets (0-1) host Muncy (1-0), who are coming off a 56-6 win over Warrior Run. Wellsboro last beat Muncy 46-14 on the road in 2017, and have won the last five games between the two schools.
"I think we continue with the same effort we have. Muncy has a some quality athletes coming back from being in the district final last year," concluded Hildebrand. "They have a good running back, a big wide receiver and good quarterback. We're going to have our hands full, we got no favors with our schedule this year at all. We're going to line up an play football, nothing special, and hopefully we come out on the other side."