Wildcats Prevail Over Comets, Win 30-28 in Thrilling Fashion
Written by: Luke Rainey on Saturday, September 8th, 2018
When a game boils down to an extremely slim margin, one play in the waning moments of the 4th quarter is often looked at as the difference between a remarkable victory and a tragic defeat. However, in the Week 3 matchup between the Homer-Center Wildcats and Penns Manor Comets, both holding a 1-1 record heading into the game, the deciding factor was not entirely due to a significant play, but rather how both teams fared on their PAT attempts and 2-point conversions. It is in this area where the Wildcats prevailed. Homer-Center converted both 2-point conversion attempts and 2 extra point kick attempts for a total of 6 points. Penns Manor converted 2 of 4 2-point conversion attempts for a total of 4 points. The difference being 2 points more for the Wildcats, and also the difference in the final score.
After winning the coin toss, the Wildcats elected to defer. Immediately on Penns Manor’s first possession, Logan Williams, the senior who led the Wildcats to victory against the Purchase Line Red Dragons in Week 2, intercepted a pass from Jimmy Lightner, giving his team the early momentum. Unfortunately for Homer-Center, their opening drive was also unsuccessful, as their offense struggled to make progress. Two drives later, the Comets were able to force a fumble on Logan Williams, with Brandon Galentine recovering the football.
Penns Manor appeared to be making significant gains on the field, but could not convert on a 4th & 6 situation inside the Wildcats’ Red Zone. Once again, Homer-Center was unable to capitalize, mainly due to the Comets’ ability to stymie Williams. On the punt, Matt Somogyi returned the ball from the Wildcats’ 46-yard line, running the full distance to score the first points of the night. A successful 2-point conversion on a Zack O’Neal reception, gave the Comets an 8-0 lead at the end of the first quarter.
In need of a touchdown, Homer-Center’s potent offense was on the attack, looking to even the score. Despite driving to the 5-yard line, a handful of penalties and sloppy plays forced the Wildcats back to Penns Manor’s 29-yard line on 4th & Goal, ultimately resulting in a turnover on downs. Following the turnover, the Comets made very little progress on their possession. To make matters worse, Dimitri Lieb kept the ball on what would have been a punt on 4th & 6 at their own 33-yard line, and could not reach the first down marker. At the end of the game, Penns Manor Head Coach Bill Packer admitted he was confused by the play, stating, “I don’t know what happened there. He (Lieb) ran the ball, didn’t get the first down, and it put us in the hole again.”
It seemed as if neither team could find a way to take advantage of the others’ mistakes. On the first play of the drive, Williams redeemed himself from the fumble in the first quarter, rushing for a 36-yard touchdown. With a Quarterback Keep for Ben Schimdt on the 2-point conversion attempt, Homer-Center tied the game at 8-8 with over 8 minutes remaining in the first half.
After Penns Manor’s offense left the field empty-handed again, the Wildcats appeared to be in business with another large play for a touchdown. On 3rd & 8 at the Comets’ 38-yard line, Schmidt escaped heavy pressure to connect with Cobe Daugherty. After making the catch, Daugherty worked through the Penns Manor secondary to reach the goal line, Ben Schmidt’s extra point kick gave Homer-Center a 7-point lead.
The struggles for the Comets continued on their next possession. With under 2 minutes on the clock, they once again made a costly mistake on 4th & 1 in their own territory, presenting the Wildcats with a major opportunity to expand their lead. However, in a drastic turn of events, Ben Schmidt fumbled the ball, which was immediately picked up by Brandon Baird. The senior Defensive End battled through the few players who remained in front of him and raced 76 yards to score a touchdown for the Comets. Penns Manor’s 2-point attempt was unsuccessful, which allowed Homer-Center to preserve their lead 15-14 at halftime.
With Homer-Center receiving the kickoff at the start of the 2nd half, they had a chance to regain a chunk of the lead they surrendered in the 2nd quarter. Once again, they were in the midst of solidifying a drive, but the momentum fizzled out inside the Comets’ 30-yard line, leading to another turnover on downs. Only 4 plays into Penns Manor’s drive, the Comets revived themselves with a 62-yard touchdown on a jet sweep for Tommy Hamilton, but failed to convert on the 2-point attempt for the 2nd consecutive drive, resulting in a 20-15 lead for Penns Manor.
Needing a counter-punch, the Wildcat offense responded to Hamilton’s run with another explosive play. On 2nd & 8, Ben Schmidt scrambled into open field, and sailed past the defense for a 53-yard touchdown to help the Wildcats retake the lead. Their 2-point conversion attempt on a run by Williams was successful, making the score 23-20 midway through the 3rd quarter.
Penns Manor’s chance to strike back went up in smoke, despite being in the midst of conducting a drive that would have given the Comets the lead, had they avoided getting stopped at the 22-yard line. With the ball back in Homer-Center’s hands, the thought of gaining a 2-possession lead over Penns Manor at a critical moment in the game turned into an absolute disaster for the Wildcats. On a rollout pass from the 37-yard line, Schmidt was intercepted by Zack O’Neal, who was untouched as he ran to the end zone, handing the lead back to the Comets. A Tommy Hamilton reception on the 2-point attempt was successful, giving the Comets a 28-23 lead after 3 quarters
The Wildcats were knocking on the door at the Comets’ end zone to regain the lead, but were stuck at the goal line in the beginning of the 4th quarter. As Schmidt tried to extend his arm past the line, he lost possession of the ball, which was recovered by the Comets Matt Somogyi. With Penns Manor on the offensive attack and the clock ticking, the Wildcats appeared to be in serious trouble. However, Homer-Center defensive linemen TJ Tagliati and Seth Prebish stpped a Comet run on 3rd down forcing a Comet punt an essential turning point that would lead to Homer-Center’s final touchdown on a 33-yard reception for Cobe Daughtery, with a Schmidt extra point kick. Despite throwing an interception and fumbling the ball on 2 separate occasions, the Wildcats were somehow ahead of the Comets 30-28 with 5:55 remaining in the game.
As the Comets tried a methodical approach to get ahead of Homer-Center, they were able to reach the 35-yard line before encountering a dreaded 4th down, do-or-die scenario. On the play, Jimmy Lightner was bombarded with pressure on the blitz, prompting him to lob the ball for a short connection with O’Neal. However, O’Neal could not get the yardage needed to get past the 1st down marker, as he was met by Alex Prebish near the line of scrimmage. Following the turnover on downs, the Wildcats were able to gain 2 more first downs, which was more than enough to secure their 2nd win of the season over the Penns Manor Comets, who fell to 1-2.
Both coaches expressed their thoughts on the drastic momentum swings throughout the night. Homer-Center coach Greg Page explained, “We made some silly mistakes, but I told them, ‘We’re down 5 points in the 4th quarter. You gave them 16 points, you’ve made so many mistakes, you’ve been lazy at times, and you’re still only down 5 points. Go seize the game,” and we were able to do that.” On the other hand, Coach Packer was proud of the effort from his team, but said, “We had too many mental mistakes. Guys got behind us, and we weren’t getting guys in the right spots. I told them all week that you have to be mentally prepared, and during practice you’re mentally prepared, and it goes to show. In a game this tight, whoever makes the most mistakes usually loses, and that’s what happened.”
1st Quarter (1:05) PM – Matt Somogyi 46-yard Punt Return TD (O’Neal pass from Lightner): 8-0
2nd Quarter (8:24) HC – Logan Williams 36-yard Rushing TD (Schmidt Run): 8-8
2nd Quarter (4: 33) HC – Cobe Daugherty 38-yard Receiving TD (Schmidt Kick): 15-8
2nd Quarter (0:22) PM – Brandon Baird 76-yard Fumble Recovery TD (Run Failed): 15-14
3rd Quarter (8:14) PM – Tommy Hamilton 62-yard Rushing TD (Run Failed): 20-15
3rd Quarter – HC – Ben Schmidt 53-yard QB Keep TD (Williams Run): 23-20
3rd Quarter (1:24) PM – Zack O’Neal Interception Return TD (Hamilton pass from Lightner): 28-23
4th Quarter (5:55) HC – Cobe Daugherty 33-yard Receiving TD (Schmidt Kick): 30-28
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