Wellsboro downs Wyalusing
WELLSBORO - A new season, new coaches on both sidelines, and only one opportunity to make a first impression. Matt Hildebrant and his Wellsboro squad took advantage of the occasion with a 49-8 win to start the season.
"We couldn't have started out any better," Hildebrant said. "We didn't have school this week so they were ready to play. They were chomping at the bit."
Ready they were.
After holding the sluggish Rams to no yardage their first series, Brandon Owlett returned the punt to the Rams' 35-yard line. On their first play from scrimmage, Michael Pietropola tossed a pass to an open Kieron Smethers in the endzone for a touchdown and, just like that, the Hornets, after a Jack Chambers PAT, led 7-0.
While the Hornets looked sharp, Wyalusing seemed timid and unsure. On the next possession, the Rams failed to move the ball. On fourth down, the snap sailed over Lucas Jennings' head on the punt attempt, leaving Wellsboro with excellent field position again.
On the first play from scrimmage on their second series, Pietropola caught Owlett on a short pass. Owlett then outran the Rams coverage for a score. Two plays, two touchdowns and a 14-0 lead.
After a Wyalusing four-and-out, the Hornets scored again, but not on the first play of the series. They had to wait three plays before Pietropola connected with Dylan Prough on a quick slant. Wyalusing would-be tacklers had Prough hemmed in, but he eluded tackles before scampering down the home sidelines for a 44-yard pass play.
The Rams mustered something on offense on their next series, moving down field on runs from Lucas Jennings and Dylan Otis. However, Jennings came up a yard short on a fourth-and-five play to surrender the ball on downs to the Hornets.
After a 35-strike to from Pietropola to Nick Tremper, the Hornets showed they had a ground game as well. Following six Wellsboro runs, Pietropola scored from four yards on a quarterback keeper.
Special teams hurt Wyalusing following the kickoff. Ryan Force mishandled the kickoff and was tackled at the fourteen. Three plays later, Owlett fielded a Rams punt and raced 50 yards to the 6-yard line. Two plays later, Wyatt Covert scored from the four for a 35-0 halftime lead.
The Hornets spent much of the second half on the ground, eating up clock with the help of the mercy rule. On their first series of the second half, the Hornets showcased Jermain Brooks, who caught a pass for 16 yards while adding runs of 13, 6, and 11 yards. However, Levi Mack scored on a 19-yard run to cap the drive.
When the Rams failed to move the ball, Brooks returned the ball to the 33 yard line. After two runs from Brooks, backup QB Anthony Cooper scored on a keeper on the 15-yard scamper for the Hornets final score of the game.
Jennings helped the Rams avoid a shutout early in the fourth quarter with runs of 31 and 11 yards before scoring from 5 yards out. He also scored on the two-point conversion for the final 49-8 tally.
While James Buchman's Rams need to regroup, Wellsboro will look to carry the momentum forward next week.
Pietropola finished the game completing five of seven passes for 163 yards and three touchdowns. Brooks led all rushers with 92 yards on nine carries. The Hornet defense held the Rams to 86 total yards with 63 yards coming on the Rams' scoring drive.
What did Hildebrandt say of his players after the game?
"They made us coaches look like geniuses."