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Bulldogs ride Gillin to 27-13 win over the Barons
By: BRUCE MORGAN Record Express Sports Editor, Staff Writer
It’s not often that Manheim Central is held to just 15 yards on the ground.
And yet, despite that being the case against Wilson on Monday, the Barons still led 10-7 at halftime.
But errors proved costly for Manheim Central in second half, and when Wilson star running back Rodney Gillin rumbled for an 80-yard TD run with 5:48 left in the game, it sealed a 27-13 victory for the Bulldogs in a non-league clash at Manheim’s Elden Rettew Field.
Two fumbles and an interception in the second half hampered the Barons.
"We just made so many mistakes … I know Wilson said they’re young, but we’re really young," Barons’ skipper Mike Williams said. "They put so much pressure on us and blitzed people. I thought our kids really hung in there pretty good and I’m pleased with how we played in the first half. They kinda dominated the game, but we were able to do some things on special teams and kept us in the game. The only thing I’m really disappointed in is the long run they had at the end. I think outside of that, for what we’re capable of, we played OK. But we had so many missed assignments, so many errors on special teams to start the game. I think it’s a sign of youth and inexperience. But somewhere along the line, we’ve got to correct that as coaches and I think we will."
The loss dropped Manheim Central to 1-1 heading into their final non-league tune-up this Friday at Selinsgrove. The Barons’ goal against the Seals, as it was when they hosted the Bulldogs, will be to take a step forward.
"Playing a team a team like Wilson and hanging in there with them no matter what level they’re at … I think for us this year, we don’t have high aspirations other than to take a step forward each week," Williams said. "I thought we might have taken a big step forward and then a little step back at the tail end of the game. We were winning at halftime, who would have thought that, and we gave them a game. We’re down 14-13 for most of the game and then the roof kinda fell in."
Gillin, of course, had something to do with that roof falling in, as he rushed for a game-high 208 yards and three TD’s on 21 carries. The first of those scores — an eight-yard dash into the left corner of the end zone with 5:49 remaining in the first quarter — capped a 10-play 77-yard scoring drive on the Bulldogs’ opening possession.
"Gillin’s a good running back, (Jim Brooks) is a pretty good running back as well and the other kid (Demetrius Young) is not bad either," Williams said.
But Central’s defense tightened on Wilson’s next possession and got the ball back for the Barons’ offense with excellent field position, leading to their best drive of the night.
Senior quarterback Caleb Walton (11-23-1, 139 yards) ran for a first down and threw for two more, including a 24-yard hook-up with sophomore Andrew Seiverling (4-67 receiving), who tight-roped the right sideline to the Bulldogs’ eight-yard line.
Following a Wilson penalty, Walton faked a jet sweep to Seiverling, then darted up the middle for a four-yard TD run with 10:29 to go in the half. Bryant Myers’ PAT tied it 7-7.
"We really didn’t have anything to hang our hat on offensively," Williams said. "So we just kinda spread them out a little bit and threw some passes and tried to get some mismatches. We had maybe one mismatch — our number two guy on one of their outside linebackers and that’s basically it."
Late in the second quarter, senior linebacker Andrew Kauffman grabbed the first of his two picks and returned the ball 22 yards to the Wilson 33-yard line to give MC another opportunity. Following Walton’s 22-yard completion to Cole Proffitt, the Barons took the ball to the Bulldog seven on a roughing the passer penalty. But the drive stalled and Myer split the uprights on a 43-yard field goal at the first-half buzzer to make it 10-7.
"Our defense is coming along pretty good," Williams said. "I think we played gang-tackling defense and we moved to the ball. Really, except for having an exceptional back like Gillin, if they wouldn’t have had him playing tonight, I don’t know what they would have done."
Kauffman was back in the middle of things on Wilson’s first series in the second half, hauling in his second INT to put the Barons’ offense in business at the Bulldogs’ 22. But with Manheim Central’s running game still struggling to get on track, Myer booted another field goal — this time from 28 yards — to stretch the Barons’ advantage to 13-7 with 8:08 to go in the third quarter.
Justin Greene made his season debut on Monday and led the Barons’ rushing attack with just 13 yards on 11 carries while facing a physical Wilson defense, including a big line consisting of Junior Joseph (6-1, 223), Deshon Giddens (5-10, 250), Yense Uribe-Martinez (6-0, 205) and Matt Rothrock (6-3, 220). For the game, Central gained only 154 total yards.
"It was hard to call plays tonight because we didn’t have any consistent thing at all," Williams said. "We really didn’t. They eventually overpowered us. We had a few things that worked, but nothing that you could hang your hat on."
The Bulldogs created a break for themselves on Central’s next possession with linebacker Dominic Moyer recovering a fumble deep in Barons’ territory at the 12-yard line. Gillin’s 11-yard run took the ball to the MC’s one-yard line, but then the Barons’ defense made a stand on three straight plays, including a big hit from senior Reid Pavlik. Finally, on fourth down, Gillin scored on a one-yard dive to give the Bulldogs a lead, 14-13, they never lost.
Midway through the fourth, Wilson again capitalized on a short field, and quarterback Seth Klein (6-13-2, 98 yards) connected with Jacob Morgan (4-67 receiving) on a 20-yard fade into the right corner of the end zone to make it 21-13 with 7:24 remaining.
"Wilson’s a hard-hitting team, and (having) young kids, they’re bound to take it out of them a little bit," Williams said. "It’s your seniors that come to the forefront in the second half and we just didn’t have enough of those kids. Wilson’s kids came through at the end and our kids were kinda fading."
Still, Manheim Central kept its hopes alive on their ensuing possession, highlighted by a Walton-to-Proffitt 48-yard connection to the Bulldogs’ 22-yard line. But then Bulldog senior Collin Harrop stole a pass away from receiver Josh Good, and on Wilson’s first play from scrimmage, Gillin broke two tackles in the backfield and raced 80 yards along the right sideline to the end zone to put the game out of reach.
"How many tackles did he break? We’re yelling at our kids for not tackling, but he’s a kid who does it all the time," Williams said. "We had him in the backfield on that long run and he broke two tackles, then he got an edge on the sideline and our guys couldn’t catch him."
Gillin’s third TD basically ended it, but there was reason to be encouraged for the Barons.
"We hung in there, but we just weren’t good enough," Williams said. "I think the score was probably fairly close to what it should be. Maybe they were one more touchdown better than we were, but I think the score was probably where it should have been." More BARONS, page B-8