Wilmington outguns Washington, Advances to Title game
Written by: Shane Lux on Saturday, December 2nd, 2017
In a seesaw battle of two unbeaten powerhouses, Wilmington outgunned Washington 49-42 Friday night at Slippery Rock University in the PIAA Class AA semifinals to punch their ticket to the state finals for the first time since they won it all in 2008.
“Obviously it’s great to back in Hershey,” said Wilmington head coach Terry Verrelli. “Anybody would be excited, and these kids are excited, it was 2008 the last time we went to Hershey, so none of these guys have experienced that.”
Anytime a game features 91 combined points you wouldn’t expect too much defense, would you?
Well, the ‘Hounds “Hammer” despite giving up 402 yards of total offense made the games final stand as Bryson Verrelli who is Terry’s grandson, intercepted Prexies quarterback Zack Swartz in the closing minute to secure Wilmington’s date with Southern Columbia in the 2A final.
It was one of three times the Greyhounds would pick off Swartz in the game.
Washington cut the deficit to seven as they recovered a Verrelli fumble at the ‘Hounds 10-yard line. That led to Nick Welsh’s 1-yard touchdown that pulled the Prexies to 49-42 with just under four minutes remaining.
The score came right after the Wilmington defense shut down Washington on downs from their 6-yard line with 7:10 remaining.
Wilmington nearly saw two 14-point second-half leads evaporate. One of which did as Verrelli scored from three yards out to put Wilmington in front 35-21 at the 9:02 mark of the third quarter.
But Welsh and the Prexies responded as he scored from 55 yards out just two plays later.
Welsh had a monster game for Washington as he rushed for a game-high 246 yards on just 22 carries.
“They have a great football team, and we certainly had difficulty stopping them,” Verrelli pointed out.
After forcing a three-and-out, Dan Walker out-jumped the ‘Hounds defense and hauled in a 39-yard touchdown on a 4th-and-10 that tied the game at 35 following an 8-play 63-yard drive.
However, undaunted the ‘Hounds pushed right back as Jack Patton ran over Prexie defenders for a 52-yard touchdown that gave Wilmington the lead they would not relinquish.
Robert Pontius, the greyhounds signal caller, played the game of his life as he accounted for 141 yards of total offense and four total touchdowns. His 18-yard run with 10:25 left in the contest gave Wilmington the 49-35 lead. But perhaps his biggest play of the night came late in the first-half as he intercepted Swartz that setup Wilmington at the Prexies 37-yard line with 1:32 to go in the half.
Facing a 2nd-and-goal from the 7-yard line, Pontius made a beautiful play-fake and hit a wide open Verrelli with 24 seconds on the clock, and Wilmington took a 28-21 lead into locker room.
“That’s the way he’s played all year,” Verrelli said of Pontius. “He’s done a great job for us all year; he’s a leader out there. He corrects mistakes I send in and what not; he’s just a total leader and a great athlete.”
Washington scored the game’s first touchdown as Welsh weaved his way through the ‘Hounds defense for a 30-yard touchdown.
Cameron Marett (who left the game in the first quarter with an injury) tied the game on an 11-yard run following a significant kickoff return from Colton Marett.
Following a strip-sack Pontius connected with Colton Marett for a 20-yard touchdown pass giving Wilmington their first lead of the game at 14-7.
Washington, who finishes one of its finest seasons in school history scored the next two touchdowns as Welsh scored from five out and Swartz found paydirt on a 1-yard plunge early in the second quarter.
“It’s been a great season, and I’m so proud of what my kids have accomplished,” said Washington head coach Mike Bosnic. “We broke some bigs and had some nice runs, but taking care of the ball and limiting turnovers, unfortunately, came back to bite us tonight.”
Wilmington 49 Washington 42
Score by Quarters
Washington – 14 7 14 7 – 42
Wilmington – 14 14 14 7 – 49
WAS – Nick Welsh 30 yd run (Lilly Christy pat), 9:39