Wellsboro wins defensive battle over Cowanesque.

By: Lee Ed Thomas II | Wellsboro Gazette | October 27, 1999


The Wellsboro Green Hornets defense came up with the big plays to halt the Cowanesque Valley offense and scored twice in the fourth quarter to break their five game losing streak as they blanked the Indians 9-0 Friday, October 22.

"It feels great," Wellsboro skipper Mike Pietropola said. "It doesn't get any better than this. Our team needed this big win tonight."

Although the Wellsboro defense limited Cowanesque's leading running back Mike Chambers to 88 yards rushing, it was enough to elevate the junior running back over the 1,000-yard rushing mark on the season.

"Mike is a workhorse and leads the team by example," Cowanesque Valley mentor Steve Boyce said. "He's only a junior so we've got him another year and we are looking forward to that."

Wellsboro threatened to score early in the first half as they forged their way into Indian territory on their second possession of the game. The Green Hornet drive ended on the three yard line when running back Jamie Palmer fumbled the ball and CV recovered.

Wellsboro missed three other scoring opportunities during the game due to fumbles and missed field goals. Wellsboro had seven fumbles during the game and lost four to the Indians. Five of the fumbles came on mishandles between the center and Jake Banik.

"Jake was just pulling out too quick," Pietropola said. "He was just excited and I think that was all there was to it."

Although the Wellsboro offense struggled and committed turnovers the Green Hornet defense came up with the big plays to stay in the game. Wellsboro held Cowanesque to 87 yards rushing on 26 attempts.

While Wellsboro was battling fumbles, Cowanesque was battling their own adversities. Boyce was not pleased with the calls by the officials which affected his team at crucial times.

According to Boyce, the officials missed a call on a punt return by a Wellsboro player who had signaled for a fair catch and then ran the ball which should have resulted in a 15 yard penalty.

"We had a kid breaking one and they decide to call the play late," Boyce said. "If a guy moved, fine, call it right off the ball. Plays like that are momentum killers for us and you can't recover from that."

"I trained our guys to beat 11 not 16," Boyce said. "Bottom line, we got shafted by all of them."

After the first half of several missed opportunities by both teams, the game remained scoreless due to strong defense.

"Our defense caused the turnovers and did a heck of a job," Boyce said. "In the same respect, the offense let them stay in. We had the opportunities to knock Wellsboro out a couple of times in the first half but we just didn't execute."

Cowanesque had more success with their passing game in the first half. Indian signal caller Paul Plummer, who had seven completions for 112 yards passing, compiled 61 yards through the air in the first half.

On Cowanesque's first possession of the second half, the Indians made their way into Wellsboro territory but were held at the 28-yard line. Wellsboro took over and marched to the Indian's nine-yard line. Wellsboro was held and Dave Laczi attempted a field goal. The kick was tipped by Cowanesque and the game remained scoreless.

Wellsboro picked up their first score after holding Cowanesque four downs on the 26-yard line and forced the Indians to punt from inside their own end zone.

The snap was high and to the left of punter Aaron Carl who leaped to pull down the snap.

Carl, who saw a host of Wellsboro defenders rushing into the backfield, quickly threw the ball out of the back of the end zone, giving Wellsboro two points.

"We teach our guys if there's a possibility of getting a punt blocked, I'd rather give up the two points than six," Boyce said. "He made an excellent decision and did exactly what he was supposed to do."

A Wellsboro fumble on the second play of their next possession was recovered by Cowanesque.

Matt Powers and Derek Harsch powered the Wellsboro defense as they blitzed their way into the Indian's backfield and came up with big plays.

"Powers played a heck of a game," Pietropola said. "And Harsch played with a lot of heart."

Wellsboro began their drive with a fumble but Palmer recovered for the Green Hornets. On the next play, Harsch took the hand off at the 50-yard line and bolted down field for the touchdown with 3:59 remaining in the game. The Laczi extra point gave the Hornets the 9-0 lead.

Harsch rushed for 154 yards on 27 carries and one touchdown while Palmer added 76 yards rushing on 13 attempts.

A combination of the Wellsboro secondary breaking up passes and penetration into the backfield ended Cowanesque's chances to score during their last two possessions of the game.

"We had a ton of injuries and a lot of guys out tonight so we just played a basic defense," Pietropola said. "We told our kids they needed to play hard because we had a lot of kids in new positions."

"These kids just played hard," Pietropola said, "They won the game because they had heart."

With the win the Green Hornets improves to 2-5 while Cowanesque falls to 3-4.