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North Penn wins Morton Jones Trophy
The North Penn-Mansfield Panthers scored 17 unanswered points to regain the Morton F. Jones Trophy and hand the Hornets their first loss of the season on Friday, September 18.
The last time the two cross-town rivals met, in the first round of the 2019 District IV Class AA playoffs, the Panthers came home with a 17-14 win at Wellsboro, the same final score of this year’s match up.
“We were fortunate then and we were fortunate tonight,” Panther head coach Tom Dickinson said. “With us not having a scrimmage and not having a game last week we made scrimmage mistakes. We were fortunate enough to come out with the win but that team didn’t quit.”
The game started off well for the Hornets, despite some early snap miscues. The Panthers won the coin toss and deferred their choice to the second half giving Wellsboro the ball to start out. After a bad snap and huge loss on the game’s opening play, junior Isaac Keane peeled off a 46-yard run into Panther territory, then with help of a 15-yard personal foul face mask, the Hornets were down inside the Panther 20. Keane connected with fellow junior Darryn Callahan to the 5, and another Panther penalty put the ball at the one. Another bad snap, however, pushed the ball back to the 21, where Keane connected with sophomore Conner Adams for the score with 8:20 remaining.
Wellsboro added another quick score, this time on the defensive side of the ball, just over two minutes after the game’s opening score. Wellsboro capitalized on an errant pass from Colton Litzelman at the Panther 46 as sophomore Will Kibler stepped in front of the ball and returned it 40 yards the other way to make it 14-0 Wellsboro after sophomore Jack Poirier’s extra point.
That score would be the Hornets’ last of the game.
“It was definitely a battle tonight,” Hornet head coach Matt Hildebrand. “We made too many mistakes, that’s what it came down to tonight. They played good football and I thought their intensity was better than ours. We didn’t play with the emotion that we should be playing with and too many penalties (14 for 80 yards) hurt us tonight.”
North Penn-Mansfield cut Wellsboro’s lead in half on their next drive. The big play of the drive came through the air as Litzelman connected with Brandon Thompson on a 44-yard pass, and was capped off on a 21-yard run by Kohen Lehman with five minutes remaining.
Wellsboro held on to their 14-7 lead through halftime and up until the final two minutes of the third quarter. Deep in Wellsboro territory Bryan Bogaczyk stepped in front of a Keane pass and returned it for his own “pick 6” from 10 yards out to knot the game at 14-all. The Panthers struck once more on the night after holding Wellsboro to a three-and-out on their next drive. The Panther’s ensuing drive featured a steady dose of Bogaczyk down to the Wellsboro 15. From there Kevin Alexander lined up and converted a 32-yard field with 9:39 remaining, giving the Panthers a 17-14 advantage.
Wellsboro had their chances to score on the final three drives, but were unable to do so. After holding the Panthers and taking back over control at their own 23, Keane and Callahan connected on a 25-yard pass to put the ball near midfield. Back-to-back runs by Keane moved Wellsboro down to the Panther 36 with 22.5 seconds left to play. From there Keane connected again with Adams on a 12-yard pass to the Panther 24, but after an incomplete pass, Keane was tracked down from behind by Thompson on a two yard run in bounds as time expired.
Keane finished 12-for-23 for 161 yards through the air and 62 yards rushing on 20 carries. Callahan rushed 15 times for 46 yards and caught 6 passes for 72 yards. Adams added 4 catches for 52 yards and senior Zach Singer caught two passes for 37 yards. Defensively junior Ryan Sweet recorded 10 tackles and Adams and sophomore Connor Burrell recorded 6 tackles. Freshman Hayes Campbell chipped in with 6 tackles.
For the Panthers Litzelman finished 7-for-19 for 59 yards. Bogaczyk rushed 15 times for 83 yards and Lehman added 51 yards on 11 attempts. Spencer caught a pass for 14 yards and Thompson had one catch for 44 yards.
Next up for the Panthers is their home-opener against the Troy Trojans at Island Park. Wellsboro is on the road next Friday at Canton.
“It doesn’t get any easier,” concluded Hildebrand. “We have Canton next week and they have some really good athletes. We have to improve upon what we did today and we’re going to have our hands full next week for sure. We’ll watch film and hopefully a better outcome next week.”