Defensively United; Lions Survive Against Wildcats During 2nd Half Monsoon
Written by: Luke Rainey on Saturday, September 22nd, 2018
In the Week 4 clash between the Marion Center Stingers and Homer-Center Wildcats, Logan Williams struggled to find a way past the Stinger defense in the first half, but eventually scored both touchdowns for the Wildcats in the late stages of the game. While Homer-Center had the momentum in their hands, the 1-3 United Lions were looking to turn their season in the right direction. Knowing that Williams was an essential piece to the Wildcats’ offense, the Lions were able to hold him to very minimal gains throughout the entire game, giving United a 14-13 lead at halftime. When torrential rainfall poured on the stadium in the 3rd quarter, the wet conditions allowed United to manage their lead to break Homer-Center’s 3-game winning streak.
The Wildcats won the coin toss and elected to defer. On the opening possession, the Lions relied on Sophomore Runningback Hunter Cameron on nearly every play, running the ball on 11 occasions. From the 9-yard line on 1st & Goal, Quarterback Kyle Silk rushed into the end zone to hand the Lions a 7-0 lead. Homer-Center’s offense quickly delivered a counter punch to even the score, taking only 4 plays to cap off a 55-yard drive with a receiving touchdown from Cobe Daugherty.
United stalled on their following possession, but gambled on 4th & 3 with a fake punt from their own 33 yard-line. Silk could not connect with any of his receivers, giving the Wildcats very strong field position. As a result, Justin Walbeck scored his first Varsity touchdown of his career on a handoff at the goal line, but Schmidt missed the extra point, keeping Homer-Center ahead of the Lions, 13-6.
Entering the 2nd quarter, United tried to incorporate the passing attack into their strategy. While Silk connected with 3 different receivers on the series, numerous penalties led to another punt. Similarly, Homer-Center turned to Williams on their next drive, but to little avail. Both offenses appeared to reach a standstill, but United worked through an 11-play drive from Homer-Center’s 36-yard line, concluding with a 6-yard rushing touchdown from Hunter Cameron. Silk’s extra point sailed through the upright, allowing the Lions to take a 14-13 lead entering halftime.
On the Wildcats’ opening possession in the 3rd quarter, Ben Schmidt almost connected to 2 different receivers for what would have been an easy touchdown, but he overthrew both passes. Despite reaching positive territory, United’s defense forced a Turnover On Downs. The Lions began their drive from their 26-yard line, but were interrupted by a heavy downpour that caused a 20-minute rain delay.
Once the weather eased to a moderate rainfall that persisted until the end of the game, the playing conditions became brutal for both offenses. On a 4th & 1 for the Lions, they fumbled on the snap, recovered and ran for a 1st down, and lost the ball again. Williams was at the right place to regain possession for the Wildcats, but Homer-Center stalled out immediately, leading to another Turnover On Downs.
Both teams’ following drives led to Three-and-Outs to conclude the 3rd Quarter, but perhaps one of the most anomalous plays ever seen at any level of football occurred on United’s next punt. As Silk kicked, a Wildcat blocked the ball, which landed directly in front of Silk. He had a quick enough reaction time to pick it up from the ground and punt a second time, rolling to Homer-Center’s 1-yard line. United Coach Kevin Marabito said about the punt, “All the bounces went our way tonight. Not too many times do you ever see it bounce off one kid and get it back in his hands, and he punts it again.”
The “double punt” assisted the Lions defense, as the Wildcats were held to a Three-and-Out with their backs against the wall. The Lions were in very strong field position on the following drive, but Silk lost control of the ball while scrambling, enabling Homer-Center to gain possession with less than 6 minutes remaining. Schmidt and Jake Saiani immediately connected on the first play of the series for a 22-yard pass, handing the Wildcats much needed momentum. On 4th & 6 on the following set of downs, Williams rushed near the sidelines and barely extended for another 1st Down, keeping the possession alive. However, 4 plays later, Eli Clevenger intercepted Schmidt’s pass, returning it to the Wildcats’ 38-yard line.
Homer-Center’s hopes of winning relied on a defensive shutdown, but the opportunity nearly squandered itself away when Hunter Cameron ran for a 38-yard touchdown. However, an illegal block in the back invalidated the play, ultimately leading to a punt from the Lions. With less than 2 minutes remaining and 0 timeouts Homer-Center was faced with a very difficult challenge. The Wildcats were able to meticulously get to midfield, but they could not win the race against the clock. On the final play of the game from United’s 41-yard line, Ben Schmidt attempted to connect with Jacob Zeiler, but the pass was incomplete and far too short of the end zone, giving the Lions their 2nd win of the season.
After the game, Coach Marabito spoke about the Lions’ ability to bounce back after losing against the Penns Manor Comets, explaining, “We knew we didn’t play a good football game. I took all of the blame last week. I said that I didn’t prepare, and we worked a lot harder this week.”
On the losing end, regarding United’s defensive effort, Coach Greg Page stated, “You kinda get one dimensional when the weather gets like this. We didn’t get a good push up front, and we knew they had size. They played good defense at times, and we just couldn’t crack through.”
1st Quarter: (5:28) U – Kyle Silk 9-yard Rushing TD (Silk kick): 7-0
1st Quarter: (3:35) HC – Cobe Daugherty 17-yard Receiving TD (Schmidt kick): 7-7
1st Quarter: (0:10) HC- Justin Walbeck 1-yard Rushing TD (Kick failed) 13-7
2nd Quarter: (1:02) U – Hunter Cameron 6-yard Rushing TD (Silk kick) 14-13
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