Wyalusing downs North Penn
WYALUSING - It was a happy homecoming last night as the Wyalusing Rams scored their first win of the season with a 27-15 victory over the North Penn Panthers.
The Rams took advantage of six Panther turnovers and 70 yards in penalties on the night.
"It was a total team effort tonight!" a jubilant Coach Hoffman said afterward. "We told the kids this week, you haven't quit, and good things are gonna happen. They finally played with emotion, and I am so proud of our kids".
The game started in Wyalusing's favor, as the Rams took the opening kickoff and quickly marched 65 yards in 6 plays. The drive was keyed by a 26 yard pass from QB Taylor Hillson to Sam Rotella, and was capped off by an 8 yard scamper into the end zone by Hillson. Rotella added the extra point, and the Panthers were in control 7-0 with only 2:06 gone in the first. When their defense forced a quick three-and-out, it looked like they were well on their way to an easy night. But two plays later, they would fumble the ball for their first of six crucial turnovers on the night.
The teams traded punts before North Penn put the ball on the ground again, but the Rams were unable to capitalize and punted for their 4th straight drive of the half.
The Panther offense went right back to work, mixing short passes from Hillson with powerful runs up the middle by Ryan Bogaczyk to move to the Ram 10 yard line. But on third and 6, an Andrew Picket pick ended the threat.
Following another Ram punt, Hillson was intercepted again, this time by Brandon Davis. But two plays later, Hillson would return the favor, as he stepped in front of a Picket pass and returned it to the Ram 32. A completion on first down to Devin Remley brought them to the 8, but with time for only two plays, the Panthers would settle for a 7-0 halftime lead as both pass attempts fell incomplete.
The second half had a sloppy start, with both teams trading fumbles before the Rams took possession on their own 23. On first down, Luke Jennings would excite the homecoming crowd with an electrifying 62 yard run. Dylan Otis then banged up the middle for 13 yards to give his team 1st and goal at the 3. He would have his number called again, and Otis bulled over the right side for the score. The Rams then lined up for the extra point kick, but North Penn jumped offside, moving the ball to the 1 ½ yard line. Coach Hoffman made a quick decision to go for two, and it paid off as Otis ran it in to give Wyalusing its first lead at 8-7 with 9:12 left in the third.
North Penn was unfazed, as they took only 1:26 to answer back. Starting on their 36, Bogacyzk rumbled for 25 yards, followed by a 25 yard completion from Hillson to Sam Bohnert. Remley carried for five yards, and with second and 5 from the Ram 9, Bogaczyk plowed through the middle for the score. Brad Brubaker added the 2 point run, and North Penn was back up 15-8.
At this point, an 0-6 Ram team that could have folded decided to answer right back. Tim Ace would carry 4 times on the drive for 41 yards, and a 15 yard facemask penalty had Wyalusing knocking on the door, On third and 2 from the North Penn 3, Otis would pick up a crucial first down to the 1. From there, Picket took it himself for the score. Coach Hoffman's decision to go for two and the lead backfired as Jenning's pass was batted down at the line and North Penn still led 15-14 with 3:52 left in the third.
The Panthers would take the ensuing drive all the way to the Ram 7 before yet another fumble ended the threat. The teams traded punts before Wyalusing put together an 80 yard 8 play drive aided by strong running and another Panther 15 yard penalty. On 3rd and 2 from the North Penn 18, Otis broke through the middle for a 10 yard gain, and as he was being brought down, alertly handed off to Tyler Fenton, who raced the remaining 8 yards for the go ahead score. Otis added the 2 point conversion, and with 3:05 left, the Rams led 20-15.
North Penn's comeback was thwarted by their 6th turnover, as Brandon Davis returned an interception to the Panther 18. From there, the Rams would cap the win as Picket scored a 1 yard run on fourth down with :05 left. Otis PAT made the final 27-15, and the Rams were ready to celebrate.