Wellsboro’s season ends in state playoffs Beyond the Boundaries
November 27, 2015 Mitch Rupert Read comments Post a comment
SCRANTON The football squirted free. It sat motionless after an onside kick on the green turf of Scranton Memorial Stadium waiting for a Wellsboro player to jump on it to continue the improbable night, and the improbably comeback, the Hornets were putting together.cheap jerseys There were no white jerseys around, though. The football was quickly covered by a pack of Old Forge special teams players Friday night, and the best season in Wellsboro football history ended. For the second time in the program’s history, Old Forge advanced past the first round of the PIAA Class A playoffs, this time with a 28 21 win over the District 4 champion Hornets. It’s the first time since Old Forge’s march to the state final in 2013 that the Blue Devils have won a state playoff game. Old Forge plays District 12 champion Bishop McDevitt,wholesale jerseys from Wyncote, in the quarterfinals next week at a site and time to be determined. McDevitt beat District 11 champion Marian Catholic last night, 35 19. Wellsboro’s season included the first District 4 football championship in program history, and the Hornets showed they absolutely belonged on the field with a tough and physical Old Forge program. For every punch the Blue Devils threw at the young Wellsboro team, the Hornets had a counter punch. It wasn’t until the Blue Devils’ Brendan Mozeleski returned an interception 32 yards for a touchdown with 2 minutes to go in the game last night that Old Forge had as much as a two score lead. And after Henry’s touchdown pass to Parker Jones with under a minute to go, it wasn’t until Old Forge recovered that onside kick that the Blue Devils could take a deep breath. The Blue Devils outgained Wellsboro last night, 374 234, but stumbled over itself with penalties all night to keep from pulling away. “We fought all night long,” Jones said after catching six passes for 95 yards and a touchdown. “We knew we could hang with these guys. We were thinking we could hang with them coming in, and we did.” “They went toe to toe with a team which has been here before,” Wellsboro head coach Matt Hildebrand said. “Our young guys got a taste (of the state playoffs) and our seniors really were the ones that led us here. They took the bull by the horns early in the season and they weren’t going to let go. You could see that fight in them here tonight. They didn’t back down from anybody.” At times Wellsboro looked outmatched up front. Old Forge marched 73 yards with ease on seven plays following a Wellsboro fumble to open the game to put the opening score on the board. Running back Cooper Califano averaged better than 7 yards per carry in the first half and added a 42 yard touchdown reception on a screen pass to go with it. But at times Wellsboro’s team speed on defense stifled Old Forge’s offense before it even got going. Freshman linebacker Robert Brown continually broke through gaps to make hits in the backfield. The Hornets rallied to the football twice in the first half when the Blue Devils tried to use screen passes to convert on third and short. Old Forge had 212 total yards of offense at halftime but had just 14 points to show for it. Collin Pietropola stopped Old Forge receiver Philip Palmiter a yard short of a first down inside the red zone in the second quarter. Chase Mosher jumped a slant route with under a minute to go in the first half for an interception on his own 15 yard line as the Blue Devils moved toward the end zone. The Hornets’ defense stopped two more screen passes short of the line to gain in the second half to force punts. And the defensive line which had been gouged on that first drive, stopped Old Forge quarterback Joe Gutowski on a quarterback sneak needing just a yard for a first down in the fourth quarter to give Wellsboro a chance to tie the game. It was an inspired performance which wasn’t always pretty, but was almost always effective. “Points are what wins the game, so you can bend, but don’t break,” Hildebrand said. “They did a great job stopping (Old Forge) late on fourth downs inside the red zone. I’m really proud of our guys.” When Old Forge scored the game’s opening touchdown, Wellsboro came right back with a nine play drive bridging the first and second quarters which was capped by a Quinn Henry 1 yard touchdown run. The drive was extended by a third down pass interference call on Old Forge, one of four defensive pass interference calls on the Blue Devils last night. Each of the four pass interference calls came with the Hornets needing more than 10 yards to pick up a first down. After the first pass interference, Henry slipped out of a sack in the backfield and found Brandon Lamphier for a 25 yard pass play which set up the first of Henry’s two touchdown runs. His second touchdown run came after Pietropola, the brother of former all state quarterback Mike Pietropola, threw a 12 yard pass to Chase Mosher on a fake punt to get Wellsboro into Old Forge territory in the third quarter. One play later, Henry went off right tackle, slipped a pair of tackles and got in the open for a 39 yard touchdown run. The sophomore quarterback went over 1,000 rushing yards for the season with that run which tied the score at 14 14. “That fake punt was called, and we give Collin a chance to take a look,” Hildebrand said. “If he likes it, he runs it. He obviously liked the look and threw the ball. You have to pull out all the stops at this time of the year. And he likes to throw it. He has one of the best arms on the team, so he could play center or quarterback if he wanted.” Old Forge made quite the statement by answering Wellsboro’s tying score with its third go ahead touchdown of the game. Califano scored on a 22 yard run to cap a five play, 59 yard drive in which the Blue Devils’ offensive line against pushed around Wellsboro’s defense. Califano finished with 129 yards on 24 carries and a pair of touchdowns. He also caught four passes for 60 yards and a touchdown. But Old Forge never did put the game away until Mozeleski intercepted a pass from Henry with 2 minutes to go for a 28 14 lead. Henry (13 of 29, 171 yards) put together one more scoring drive for the Hornets, throwing a beauty of a slant pattern to Jones for a 10 yard touchdown pass with 49 seconds to go. But the Hornets didn’t recover the onside kick and Old Forge ran out the clock. “This is great experience for us because we have a lot of young guys on the team,” Jones said. “We have really good character and we’re going to keep trucking next year and hit the weights and keep going forward from this.” “They looked right in the face of adversity. I don’t know if it’s that they’re just young and don’t the situation, or what,” Hildebrand said. “But hey, that can work to your advantage. They’ve done a lot of good things, so hopefully they can build upon it.” Old Forge 28, Wellsboro 21 Wellsboro 0 7 7 7 21 Old Forge 7 7 7 7 28 First quarter OF Cooper Califano 7 run (Jaret Horn kick), 6:57 Second quarter W Quinn Henry 1 run (Nick Ingerick kick), 11:29 OF Califano 42 pass from Gutowski (Horn kick), 3:46 Third quarter W Henry 39 run (Ingerick kick), 7:02 OF Califano 22 run (Horn kick), 4:39 Fourth quarter OF Brendan Mozeleski 32 interception return (Horn kick), 2:07 W Parker Jones 10 pass from Henry (Ingerick kick), :49 WELLS OF First downs 15 15 Rushes yds 27 51 38 232 Com att int 14 31 2 10 12 1 Pass yards 183 142 Total yards 234 374 Fumbles lost 2 1 0 0 Penalties yards 2 10 11 110 INDIVIDUAL STATISTICS Rushing Wellsboro, Quinn Henry 15 46, TD; Chase Mosher 8 17; Nick Tremper 3 ( 1); Alex Kozuhowski 1 ( 11). Old Forge, Cooper Califano 24 129, 2 TDs; Joe Gutowski 6 51; Brendan Mozeleski 4 26; Jaret Horn 4 26. Passing Wellsboro, Quinn Henry 13 29 2, 171 yds., TD; Collin Pietropola 1 1 0, 12 yds.; Brandon Lamphier 0 1 0. Old Forge, Gutowski 5 6 1, 89 yds, TD; Paul Cariati 1 2 0, 26 yds. Receiving Wellsboro, Parker Jones 6 95, TD; Mosher 3 26; Lamphier 2 33; Tremper 2 20; Parker Mann 1 9. Old Forge, Califano 4 60, TD; Horn 2 38; Armando Sallavanti 2 15; Gutowski 1 26; Philip Palmiter 1 3. Interceptions Wellsboro, Mosher. Old Forge, Cariati, Mozeleski. RECORDS: Wellsboro (10 3); Old Forge (12 1).