East Pennsboro at Suquehannock in District 3, Class 4-A quarterfinal game.
GLEN ROCK — While no doubt disappointed in watching his team’s season come to a close, Susquehannock football head coach Steve Wiles wasn’t about to let Friday’s, Nov. 10, defeat diminish what his Warriors were able to accomplish in 2017.
His fourth-seeded Warriors had just fallen at home, 45-14, to an East Pennsboro side that proved much better than its fifth seed in their District 3 Class 4-A quarterfinal conest.
But, more importantly for Wiles’ Warriors, the team took solace in seeing the end of a season that put the program back on track.
“It’s a process,” Susquehannock head coach Steve Wiles said. “… And you have got to have leadership. When you lose year after year, after year the winning attitude just isn’t there. As soon as something goes wrong in the game, heads go down like ‘Here we go again’ attitude. We’ve gotten rid of that.
“We’ve been down this year, and our kids keep fighting and coming back. And that winning attitude is what it’s about. …That’s a part of the process, we now have that winning season back and hopefully those underclassmen can build off it.”
Their 8-3 record in 2017 saw the Warriors go 6-0 in York-Adams League Division II play and deliver Glen Rock its first division title since 2006. That was also the last time the Warriors qualified for the District 3 tournament.
It also gave Susquehannock’s 18-member senior class a chance to go out with a winning record, after the squad put up a 3-7 record in 2016.
Warriors strike first: Susquehannock received the ball to open the game and looked ready to give the Panthers a battle.
The Warriors took their opening possession 58 yards for a drive that culminated with a Hunter Sentz 1-yard touchdown run. During their nine plays, all rushing, sophomore running back Daniel Clapp carried the ball five times for 45 of 65 yards on the night.
The Panthers immediately answered with a 13-play scoring drive of their own, finished off by Noah Alejandro’s first of three touchdowns for East Pennsboro.
That’s when the mistakes began to mount for the Warriors.
Susquehannock cancelled out an interception on the ensuing possession with a defensive stop that gave the Warriors the ball to start on the Panthers’ side of the field.
Driving with the game tied, Susquehannock fumbled the ball away three plays later.
On the next play from scrimmage, Alejandro hit he first of his 60-yard-plus touchdown runs, putting the Panthers ahead 14-7 on his 61-yard trot.
After its drive stalled, Susquehannock pinned the Panthers at their own 12-yard line. But East Pennsboro start to pull away by taking the Warriors’ defense on an 88-yard, 16-play ride.
Panthers senior quarterback Payton Morris began to find his groove on the drive, which started with a steady dose of carries for EP standout running back Onasis Neely.
Morris connected on five straight attempts during the drive, for 73 of his 126 yards passing on the night. He completed the drive by tossing a 29-yard strike to Nikolas Karoly.
A Warriors fumble two plays later set up a Panthers field goal and 24-7 halftime lead.
“As a coach, you’re obviously disappointed,” Wiles said of Friday’s game. “The first half especially, we hurt ourselves. We had three turnovers, uncharacteristic stuff. And you just can’t turn the ball over three times with the weapons they have.”
Tough draw: The Panthers entered Friday’s game with a matching 8-2 record; having gone 5-2 in Mid-Penn Conference Capital Division play. Their only losses on the year came at the hands of Steel High and Middletown; both of those teams are the top seed in their respective district classes.
Neely, the Panthers’ senior standout running back, came into play Friday having already put up 2,211 yards on 210 carries with 34 total touchdowns during the regular season.
The Warriors did a decent job in slowing Neely early, limiting him to 50 yards on 12 carries during the first half. Neely finished the night with 132 yards on 20 carries and a touchdown.
Alejandro capped the Panthers’ scoring with his 62-yard score late in the third quarter. He finished with 150 yards rushing on just seven carries and three touchdowns.
“These guys exceeded what most people thought we could do this year,” Wiles said in wrapping up the 2017 season. “We’ll have a lot to replace (next year). But we’ve got a nice core of kids who contributed this year. Proud of the team this year.”
Next up: With the win, the Panthers will move to on to face top-seed Berks Catholic (11-0) in the Class 4-A semifinals Nov. 17 at Berks Catholic High School. The Saints were a 48-14 winner over No. 8 Gettysburg (7-3) Friday night in the quarterfinals
The victory also extends the Panthers’ current winning streak to six games.
East Pennsboro 7 – 17 – 21 – 0 = 45
Susquehannock 7 – 0 – 0 – 7 = 14
Sus – Sentz 1 run (Shipley kick), 8:28
EP – Alejandro 5 run (Mostoller kick), 2:46
EP – Alejandro 61 run (Mostoller kick), 10:32
EP – Karoly 29 pass from Morris (Mostoller kick), 1:46
EP – Mostoller 26 field goal, 0:04
EP – Neely 7 run (Mostoller kick), 9:18
EP- Morris 16 run (Mostoller kick), 2:53
EP – Alejandro 62 run (Mostoller kick), :23
Sus – Holtzapple 1 run (Shipley kick), 0:22
First downs: EP, 22; Sus 12
Rushes-Yards: EP 37-329; Sus 33-130
Passing yards: EP 126; Sus 33
Completions-Attempts-INTs: EP 14-17-0; Sus 4-8-1
Penalties-Yards: EP 3-20; Sus 1-15
Punts-Average: EP 2-8; Sus 4-35.3
Fumbles-lost: EP 0-0; Sus 3-2
Rushing: EP Neely 20-132, Karoly 5-25, Morris 3-19, Alejandro 7-150, Shermeyer 2-3; Sus, Sentz 4-(-21), Trego 5-17, D.Clapp 9-65, Orndorff 5-26, Brown 4-17, Kramer 4-19, Holtzapple 2-7.
Passing: EP, Morris 14-17-126-1TD-0INT; Sus, Sentz 4-8-33-0TD-1INT
Receiving: EP, Alejandro 2-15, Karoly 3-39, Neely 3-9, Nugent 4-43, Fries 2-20; Sus, Trego 1-20, D.Clapp 1-8, Norris 1-2, Brown 1-3.