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Hornets edge North Penn in Double OT

Wellsboro defeats rival North Penn, 35-34 in double overtime

 

by Ed Weaver - November 9, 2015

Four quarters wasn’t enough to determine a winner in the annual Morton F. Jones Trophy Game between rivals Wellsboro and North Penn on Friday, November 6.

With the score tied 20-20 at the end of regulation, Wellsboro had the first possession of the overtime. After two short running plays, sophomore quarterback Quinn Henry found junior tight end Parker Jones from seven yards out in the back of the end zone for a touchdown. Henry added two points on the following conversion to make the score 28-20. North Penn answered on their first overtime possession as Brock Burleigh connected with Joel Whitteker from four yards out, then hit Levi Adams for the conversion to tie it again at 28-28.

The Panthers got the ball back to start the second overtime, and this time Burleigh hit Garrett Bickhart from 12 yards out to put North Penn up 34-28. Wellsboro’s defense saved their best play of the night on the ensuing two-point conversion. Burleigh dropped back to pass and was forced out of the pocket where Jones was waiting for him as he dropped him for a sack, preventing any more points.

The Hornets then had one final drive from 10 yards out. Henry gained six yards on first down then senior Nick Tremper busted up the gut from four yards out for the game’s final touchdown.

“We ran iso on them,” Tremper said. “The line blocked insanely well on the play, I made a nice cut and found the end zone. The guys blocked great all night.”

That’s when head coach Matt Hildebrand called upon sophomore Nic Ingerick. Ingerick kicked the ball through the uprights on the extra point attempt, giving the Hornets the one point win and possession of the Jones Trophy for another year.

“Basically I was thinking don’t miss and kick it straight and win the game,” Ingerick said.

“I definitely didn’t see the game ending the way it did tonight,” Hildebrand said. There’s two good football teams right there and moving ahead there is chance we could run into North Penn again in the next two weeks. They’re a good football team, but I loved how our guys battled all night. It was a total team win.”

Both teams traded drives to start Friday’s rivalry game. On the Panthers’ second drive, after a Wellsboro turnover on downs, the Hornets forced a punt. Senior Phillip Straniere blocked Mason Gee’s kick, giving Wellsboro excellent field position at the North Penn 23-yard line. The Hornets only needed two plays to score the game’s opening points, as Henry broke a 20 yard run, then fought his way for three tough yards to make it 6-0 with 6:55 after the two-point conversion failed.

The Panthers put a nice drive together after the Hornets’ score, and would eventually tie the game. Burleigh marched his squad down the field as he connected with Whitteker twice for 33 yards, then hit Brendan Hill for a 19 yard gain down to the 1-yard line. Brad Pequignot scored his first touchdown two plays later to tie the game at 6-6 with 3:45 left in the first quarter.

The Hornets respond on their following drive as Henry used his speed and elusiveness on a 41 yard gain to the Panther 34-yard line. A run by Tremper and as pass to sophmore Chase Moser advanced the ball to the 28-yard line. Then, a play later, Henry called his own number as he scrambled to find the end zone from 28 yards out with 2:10 remaining in the opening frame. Ingerick’s extra point missed, and Wellsboro led 12-6.

After two drives by both teams went nowhere, North Penn got the ball back late in the first half. The Panthers again marched down field on a 9-play drive where Pequignot again scored from a yard out. This time North Penn converted the conversion try as Burleigh went in from three yards out to give the Panthers a 14-12 lead, that they would take into halftime.

The Hornets started the second half with the football, but were unable to get any points out of their opening drive. The team took to the ground as Moser and Tremper took turns running the ball, but a holding call ended the drive as Henry was unable to pick up the necessary yardage on fourth down.

The Panthers started their next drive with a 15 yard pass Whitteker and 10 yard run by Sean Giles, but the Wellsboro defense dug in and stopped the following three run plays for little gain, forcing the Panthers to punt.

The Hornets took over on their own 10-yard line. Tremper rushed for a gain of two yards, Henry found sophomore receiver Johnny Rowland for a five yard gain, then Henry called his own number and picked up a first down on a six yard run. Moser picked up four yards on the next play, a pass out to junior Brandon Lamphier lost yards, then Henry rushed for six more on third down. Facing a punting situation, the Horents dialed up a little trick play as Moser looked to attempt a “rugby-style” punt, but instead threw a touch pass to Tremper for a gain of 22 yards and a first down into Panther territory. Tremper picked up six more yards on the next play, Henry connected with Rowland for 12 more yards, and Tremper carried for a yard as the third quarter came to a close.

Wellsboro’s drive would be for naught as they failed to convert on fourth down at the North Penn 23-yard line just a few plays later. Again the Hornet defense rose to the task of shutting down Burleigh and the Panther offense. However, Burleigh hit Pequignot on a huge gain to get inside the Wellsboro red zone. Four plays later, on fourth-and-goal from the six-yard line, Henry intercepted a Burleigh pass, his second of the night, in the end zone for a touchback.

The Hornet offense went to work as Henry hit Lamphier for a short gain, then found Jones for 12 yards and a first down efore Moser busted a 24 yard run to put the ball at the Panther 40-yard line. Two plays later, the Hornets tried to setup a screen, but as Henry rolled out near the North Penn sidelines he pitched the ball to Moser and the speedster never looked back on a 37 yard run to the end zone to give the Hornets a 20-14 lead after Tremper caught the two-point conversion with 5:06 left in the fourth quarter.

“It was a great group effort tonight,” Henry said of the game. “We came out and gave it our all and man, what a battle. We tried setting up the screen but it wasn’t there so I took off the other way and then flipped it to Chase and he made a play.”

“I don’t remember what was called in the huddle, but it was crazy,” Moser said. “Quinn was rolling out and I think he wanted to pass it, but no one was open. I stayed behind him and he pitched in… it was just a crazy play.”

“That was not a play we have in the playbook, or that was drawn up and I’ll be the first one to admit that,” Hildebrand said of the Henry-Moser pitch. “It looks great now. I told Quinn ‘I love you now’ but wouldn’t be saying the same thing. He improvised, he’s an athlete, he got the ball to Chase and he did the rest. Sometimes the best plans don’t work out and at this point in the season you take the points however you get them.”

The Panthers tied the game on their next drive as they put together a 11-play drive ended with Burleigh running in it from five yards out with 1:36 left in regulation. The following two-point conversion was no good as the Hornets forced Burleigh to fumble before he reach the end zone, and the score was tied at 20-20.

The Hornets next drive ended in four plays. After Henry hit Jones for 17 yards, he was intercepted two plays later. North Penn couldn’t find any offense on their next drive and were forced to punt after three straight incomplete passes, setting up the overtime showdown.

Henry finished 14-for-21 passing for 91 yards, making him the sixth quarterback in Wellsboro Football history to throw for 1,000 yards in a season*. He now has 1,052 on the year. Henry led the Hornet rushing attack with 145 yards on 20 carries, and Moser finished the night with 129 on 19 tries. Tremper also added 32 yards on 10 carries.

Jones was the team’s leading receiver with 5 catches for 52 yards, Moser caught four passes for 18 yards, Rowland had 2 catches for 17 yards, and Tremper caught two passes for 25 yards.

Defensively, Tremper had 14 tackles (9 solo), Moser finished with 9 stops, Jones made 9 tackles, and Straniere pitched in 8 tackles.

“Coming off last week’s loss to Towanda the guys knew they let themselves down and we just weren’t ready mentally. I just take as much blame for that. We had a great week of practice coming into tonight, we didn’t really have to get the kids fired up because the rivalry does that,” Hildebrand said. “This win is a spring board and we needed it tonight as we go forward into districts next week and we’re focused on getting the program’s first post-season win.”

Now the Hornets (8-2, 3-2 NTL Division 1) turn their attention to the first round of District IV playoffs. The Hornets will host Muncy, who they defeated 33-12 back in week two of the regular season, at Mansfield University.

Credits:

Writing: N/A

 

Produced by Vogt Media

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