Williams Carries Wildcats to 50-28 Victory Over Red Dragons
Written by: Luke Rainey on Saturday, September 1st, 2018
After suffering miserable defeats in their home-opening games from the first week of the 2018 season, both the Wildcats and Red Dragons were aiming for a drastic turnaround. While Homer-Center was on the wrong side of a 56-0 defeat against the Ligonier Valley Rams, Purchase Line fell short to the West Shamokin Wolves by a score of 37-6. However, last night was extremely different for the Wildcats, mainly thanks to running back Logan Williams, who had the type of game that the majority of players can only dream of having.
The Red Dragons won the coin toss and elected to defer. On the opening kickoff, Williams sliced his way through heavy traffic, running the distance to the end-zone for an 83-yard touchdown. In response, on Purchase Line’s opening possession, they conducted a drive of 7 plays and 60 yards, capped off by a touchdown run from Cullen Goncher. Additionally, the Red Dragons went for 2, with Goncher successfully clawing past the goal line, making the score 8-7 Purchase Line.
On the Wildcats’ next possession, they once again utilized the greatest weapon in their arsenal, turning again to Logan Williams. Following an incomplete pass, Williams once again found himself with the ball, running for a 69-yard touchdown. This was mostly due to a fantastic block on the behalf of Trevor Mlakar. After the game, Coach Greg Page commented on the decision to move Mlakar from their offensive line to fullback: “He’s a big kid. He’s athletic, and the biggest thing is he’s smart. It took maybe one or two days for him to understand what he needed to do on all of our base plays, and that’s the important thing because then we trust him.” The Wildcats followed their 2nd touchdown with a 2-point conversion, giving them a 15-8 lead.
Purchase Line was not able to respond to the Wildcats’ previous drive, and the game appeared to be slipping out of their reach when Homer-Center marched inside the Red Dragons’ 20-yard line. However, their defense maintained, forcing a turnover on downs. When Purchase Line regained possession, they moved deep into Homer-Center territory, until Wildcat linebacker Jayke Saiani answered with two consecutive sacks on Jacob Barnett, forcing a 4th & 23. On the seemingly impossible 4th down, Barnett threw a perfectly placed pass to Josh Syster on the play for a 29-yard touchdown. The Red Dragons tried to convert a 2-point attempt, but were not successful, allowing the Wildcats to retain the lead, 15-14.
Following the Red Dragons’ 2nd touchdown, the Wildcats looked to regain the same advantage they just surrendered. Ben Schmidt was scrambling away from intense pressure when he threw to Sainai, who was completely uncovered. The play resulted in a touchdown for 55 yards, but a flag was thrown against Homer-Center for an ineligible receiver, keeping the score at 15-14. Schmidt’s next pass was intercepted, but in similar fashion, the play would not stand because of a pass interference penalty against Purchase Line. A few plays later, Schmidt connected to Cobe Daughterty for a 23-yard touchdown pass, bringing the score to 22-14 with approximately 3 minutes remaining before halftime.
As Purchase Line was pulling together a potential points-rewarding drive, Ben Schmidt intercepted a pass to give the Wildcats possession with a small amount of time to expand their 8-point lead, but could not capitalize on the opportunity. After a Homer-Center punt, the Red Dragons were able to redeem themselves from their previous drive with a 31-yard touchdown for Syster on a buck sweep, but failed on the 2-point conversion attempt, allowing the Wildcats to hold a 22-20 lead at halftime.
At the start of the 3rd quarter, the Wildcats regained possession when Purchase Line punted on their first drive of the half. Once again, Logan Williams rose to life, as he zig-zagged, reversed field, and outran the defense for an 84-yard rushing touchdown, his 3rd of the game. With an extra point, Homer-Center boasted a 2-possession lead.
Nearly 8 minutes later, Purchase Line found themselves in a 4th & 6 situation in Wildcat territory. In need of a successful drive, the Red Dragons’ decided to take a game-deciding risk and keep the offense on the field. On the play, defensive lineman Alex Prebish leaped in the air to snatch the ball on an attempted middle screen for the Wildcats’ 2nd interception, allowing them to maintain a lead of 29-20 to begin the final quarter.
To make matters worse for the Red Dragons, both Goncher and Syster dealt with cramps and injuries during the 3rd Quarter, eliminating any possibility of making significant progress on the rushing attack. After the game, Coach Falisec stated, “In all honesty, we ran out of running backs. We were running three 9th graders at running back, and you don’t win football games by playing 9th graders.”
Throughout the entire 4th quarter, Homer-Center significantly outperformed the Red Dragons, padding their lead with 3 separate touchdowns and an interception by Daughtery. Purchase Line was able to string together one successful drive with under 6 minutes remaining on the clock, but they simply did not have enough to contend with the Wildcats, who won by a score of 50-28.
Without question, Logan Williams shined in the spotlight for the Wildcats, despite choosing to not play during the 2017 season. Coach Page noted his remarkable performance, saying, “He was a reserve 2 years ago and it takes time (to improve). You’re just not going to outrun people. You have to be able to maneuver on the football field as well, and he’s starting to learn that. He was fun to watch, and he made some great plays tonight.”
1st Quarter (11:48) HC – Logan Williams 83-yard Kickoff Return TD (Schmidt kick): 7-0
1st Quarter (8:52) PL – Cullen Goncher 7-Yard Rushing TD (Goncher run): 8-7
1st Quarter: (8:29) HC – Logan Williams 69-yard Rushing TD (Sainai pass from Schmidt): 15-8
2nd Quarter: (5:27) PL – Josh Syster 29-yard Receiving TD (Run failed): 15-14
2nd Quarter: (3:13) HC – Cobe Daughterty 23-yard Receiving TD (Schmidt kick): 22-14
2nd Quarter: (0:35) PL – Josh Syster 31-yard Rushing TD (Run failed): 22-20
3rd Quarter: (8: 15) HC – Logan Williams 84-yard Rushing TD (Schmidt kick): 29-20
4th Quarter: (11:09) HC – Logan Williams 25-yard Rushing TD (Schmidt run): 37-20
4th Quarter: (7:04) HC – Trevor Mlakar 3-yard Rushing TD (Kick blocked): 43-20
4th Quarter: (5:41) PL – Jacob Barnett 2-yard Rushing TD (Successful run): 43-28
4th Quarter: (1:29) HC – Franklin Maratita 1-yard Rushing TD (Schmidt kick): 50-28
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