Hempfield survives Warwick
By: BRUCE MORGAN Record Express Sports Editor firstname.lastname@example.org, Staff Writer
Quarterback Michael Murr and running back Joe Gamble stole the show for Hempfield in the first half last Friday.
Stu Helgeson stole the game for the Black Knights late in the second half.
With Warwick driving in the final minutes while trying to overcome a five-point deficit last Friday night, Hempfield’s senior defensive back grabbed an interception in the end zone with just 1:33 left and the Knights survived to earn a 24-19 win at Grosh Field in Lititz.
"We should’ve won the game," Warwick coach Bob Locker said. "You’ve got to make plays when it counts. The kids deserved to win the football game for the effort they put into it. Considering everything that rolls down the pike at these kids all year, we put ourselves in position to win the game and … we’ve just got to find a way to win."
Although the Warriors fell to 2-7 overall (2-4 Section One) with the loss, they continued to gain the respect of their head coach from the effort that they delivered against a Hempfield squad currently ranked 15th in the District Three Quad-A power ratings.
"They never stopped playing," Locker said. "They had nothing to play for other than pride. We’re 2-6, the only thing at this point that motivates a kid is a sense of loyalty to his school, to his teammates, to his program, a sense of brotherhood with his fellow players, and that’s what they did. Physically, I couldn’t ask anything more of them in the second half. I thought we did a pretty good job in the second half. I thought we played physical football, and geez at the end, we had our shot."
The Black Knights gave Warwick their best shot in the first half, when Gamble ran for three touchdowns and churned out 103 of his game-high 166 rushing yards.
"(Murr) and the running back (Gamble) do a nice job of their zone read offense," Locker said. "Their offensive line does a nice job. They move people well and we’re down a lot of players. They’ve done a nice job of installing a new offense with the new coach and they make plays. The running back is good. We had kids overpursuing left and right and he’s got great vision."
Gamble used that great vision to score on a 24-yard run around left end on the Knights’ first possession of the game, putting his team in front 7-0 with just 1:54 elapsed.
Hempfield’s junior running back again got the call on when the Knights took over for their next series, but this time, he fumbled and Warwick’s Brady Forney returned the ball 37 yards to the Hempfield eight. Three plays later, Forney (9-43 yards rushing) punched it into the end zone on a seven-yard run and Shawn Mearig’s PAT tied it 7-7 with 6:58 left in the opening quarter.
But the Black Knights outgained Warwick 242-92 in total yardage in the first half, and they snapped the deadlock with a pair of TD runs by Gamble to go up 21-7 at the half.
Murr (16-123 rushing) added 102 first-half yards on the ground, and Gamble’s one-yard dive with 1:45 left in the opening quarter capped a 12-play, 89-yard scoring drive by the Black Knights.
After Hempfield’s Mark Hoffman missed a 33-yard field goal attempt early in the second quarter, Dereje Woldemariam intercepted a pass by Forney and Gamble scored on a two-yard run with 1:14 left in the half.
"They made good play selections," Locker said of the Black Knights. "They make their calls after you line up in the defense. We tried to run some change looks, but they did a pretty good job of getting on the edge against us and our defensive scheme."
Running back Anthony Boak and QB Tyler Farnan did a pretty good job in their own right on the Warriors’ first possession of the second half. With Boak (26-88 rushing) carrying the ball eight times for 21 yards and Farnan going 4-of-4 through the air for 32 yards, Warwick put together a textbook ball-control drive, consuming 10:10 off the clock while marching 70 yards on 19 plays. Finally, Forney — on his fourth straight carry in the red zone — scored on a one-yard run with 1:50 left in the third quarter to cut Hempfield’s lead to 21-14.
"The drive in the third quarter was everything we look for because that’s who we are," Locker said. "We’re not flashy. We did what we set out to do. You score, you hold them, you score again, it’s a game and I was real proud of them."
The Warriors’ defense did indeed hold after a 42-yard run by Gamble set the Knights up with a first-and-goal. Hempfield had to settle for a 28-yard field goal by Hoffman with 11:09 left in the fourth which made the score 24-13.
Then Farnan (10-for-18, 125 yards) and the rest of Warwick’s offense went back to work. The Warriors’ senior signal-caller was 8-of-9 for 114 yards and one INT in the second half and his 45-yard strike to Forney along the left sideline set up a five-yard TD run by junior Albert Powell with 9:04 remaining. The pass for two failed, but Warwick was back in it, 24-19.
From there, the Knights went three-and-out and Warwick got the ball back at its 44-yard line with 7:09 left in the game.
"I thought our kids did a good job," Locker said. "(Gamble) was a little slow getting up by the end of the game. I think our kids play physical football. I think they have all year."
Warwick’s offense played physical football on its final drive, as Boak and Powell combined to run the ball seven times for 23 yards and Farnan completed a pair of first-down passes to Austin Minnich, moving the ball to the Knights’ 15-yard line.
But Forney, one of Warwick’s top offensive threats, was on the bench with an injury, which hampered them in the red zone.
"Red zone for us is get Forney the ball and let him find a crease," Locker said. "I’ve said this before that whoever gets him as a college football player is getting something because that kid, he’s pretty good at what he does. And let’s face it, it’s not like we’re magic. Everybody knows who’s touching the ball, but yet he finds creases. So our red zone offense got kinda changed dramatically there when he got hurt. But we still did a good job, we moved the ball down the field and put ourselves in a position to have a chance to win the game."
Boak gained three yards on back-to-back carries to set up third-and-long, and then Farnan dropped back and fired toward the end zone with J.A. Howland as his intended target. But Helgeson stepped in front of the aerial and the Black Knights proceeded to run out the clock.
Afterward, though, Locker spoke highly of his players for their effort.
"I’ve got to give my kids all the credit in the world for not packing it in," Locker said. "I think that speaks a lot of who they are as young men." More WARRIORS, page B-5