Athens downs Wellsboro in a heartbreaker.

By: Joe Wagner | Wellsboro Gazette | November 6, 1996


The Wellsboro Hornets football team dropped its third game in a row on Saturday in a fourth quarter heartbreaker to inter-division rival Athens Wildcats.

Despite a great day had by the Wellsboro defense, led by Matt Kennedy with three interceptions, the Wildcats were able to score a touchdown in the last minutes of the game to win 8-7. In a contest full of turnovers and penalties, the Wellsboro defense allowed Athens only 141 total yards on the afternoon.

The Hornets managed to score first. Wellsboro's only touchdown of the day was set up by a Wildcat fumble at midfield. Athens helped the Wellsboro cause again when they committed defensive pass interference against Wellsboro tight end Krys Callahan.

That and an encroachment penalty moved the ball to the Athens 19-yard line.

Wellsboro tailback Matt Kennedy took a pitch to the right and cut back, dodging his way past defenders to the Athens one-yard line. Kennedy took the hand-off on the next play and bolted the last yard into the end zone. Rolando Suarez's extra point was good. With five minutes left in the half, Wellsboro was in the lead 7-0.

The Hornets held the Wildcat's scoreless for the remainder of the half, forcing a punt. Wellsboro ran out the clock and went into halftime with a touchdown lead. Neither team could gain any momentum in the third quarter.

Wellsboro incurred seven of their nine total penalties in the third period to stymie any hope of a score. The Hornets could manage nothing but a missed 39 yard field goal attempt.

The Hornets dodged a bullet early in the fourth quarter. Athens blocked a Wellsboro punt and the Wildcats pounced on the ball at the Wellsboro 30-yard line. But Matt Kennedy pulled down his third interception of the night to halt the Athens scoring drive. He picked off quarterback Matt McGee in the end zone for a Wellsboro touchback.

The Hornets, however, could not manage a drive and had to punt the ball away. Athens allowed the punt to roll out of bounds at the Wellsboro 45-yard line.

From there, McGee completed two passes to put the Wildcats at the Wellsboro one-yard line. David Gabriel, the Athens tailback, took a handoff on the next play and dove in for the touchdown.

With a 1:50 left to play, the Wildcat's were down 7-6 before their try for points after the touchdown. Athens set up their extra point team in the middle of the field.

The kick was faked and the Wildcat's completed a pass for a two-point conversion, giving the Athens squad an 8-7 lead.

The Hornets returned the final kickoff to their own 30-yard line, where the Wildcats were penalized for an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty. Wellsboro could not take advantage of the field position and turned the ball over on downs.

The Athens Wildcats took over possession of the ball with 31 seconds on the clock and let time run out.

Wellsboro beat Athens on the stat sheet. For the second week in a row, the Wellsboro Hornet's held their opponents to fewer total yards but lost the game.

Mitch Marzo was Wellsboro's leading ground gainer. He amassed 86 yards on 19 carries. Kennedy carried the ball 22 times for 76 yards. John Lundgren, the Wellsboro quarterback, was six of 10 passing for 42 yards and an interception.

No Athens rusher had more than 15 yards on the ground. McGee completed seven of 16 passes for 98 yards and aired three interceptions.

The Hornets out-gained the Wildcats 208 total yards to 141.

The Wellsboro Green Hornets end their season with a record of 6-3 overall and 4-2 in the Northern Tier League (NTL). Athens NTL record is 5-1.

Wellsboro winds up third in the NTL behind Wyalusing (5-0) and Athens. The Green Hornet's record does not qualify them for post-season play.