Knights pull away from Warwick in second half Football
BRUCE MORGAN Record Express Sports Editor
, Staff Writer
It was still a ball game for Warwick at halftime last Friday night, trailing just 17-7.
They had an opportunity, though, to cut Hempfield’s lead to 17-14 going to the locker room, which would have given the Warriors a better outlook for the second half.
Unfortunately for Warwick, its final possession of the half ended with no points, and the Black Knights rode a 184-yard, two-touchdown performance by running back Devin Washington to a 36-7 win at Grosh Field in Lititz.
QB Sam Kramer added 73 yards and two scores in a Hempfield rushing attack which piled up 356 total yards and the Black Knights pulled away after capitalizing on a botched Warwick punt snap late in the third quarter.
"We talk about it all the time that it comes down to three plays a game so very often," Warwick coach Bob Locker said. "We needed to score before halftime. We had a couple of shots on the fades. (Trailing) 17-14 is a lot different than 17-7. I’ll give the defense credit – they did a good job. The punt snap and the short field … we handed one to them. Then after that, it kinda snowballed."
The Black Knights’ victory improved their record to 4-2 in league play (6-3 overall) and moved them to 11th in the latest District Three Quad-A power ratings.
The Warriors (1-5 L-L, 3-6 overall), meanwhile, went into last Friday’s action needing to win their final two games to reach the .500 mark. They appeared to be helping their cause when they drove to the Hempfield 30-yard line with less than a minute left in the first half, as quarterback Matt Pennypacker (20-of-37, 217 yards) completed passes of 19 and 35 yards to Austin Myers and six yards to Chris Borg. Myers, who missed the previous two games due to health reasons, and Anthony Fatjo finished with six receptions apiece for 114 and 43 yards, respectively.
"(Austin)’s a really good wide receiver and it’s obvious what he brings to our offense," Locker said.
The Warriors’ offense, however, stalled at the end of the first half on three incomplete passes and Hempfield, thanks to TD runs of 18 and 6 yards by Washington and a 23-yard field goal by Stephen Johnson, carried a 10-point lead into the locker room. Warwick, currently ranked 22nd in the District Three Quad-A power ratings, got on the scoreboard on a two-yard run by Tommy Garner on the opening play of the second quarter capping an 11-play, 70-yard drive.
The score remained 17-7 until until late in third quarter when disaster struck for the Warriors on a high punt snap, forcing Kobi Biemesderfer to pounce on the ball at the Warwick six-yard line. An injury to center David Brubaker led to a revamped offensive line for Warwick against the Black Knights.
"The domino effect of Bru being hurt is we had to put somebody else at center," Locker said. "I guess maybe you don’t know how good you have it until something goes wrong. To ask a kid to be a gun snapper in a couple of days worth of work is tough to do and it just disrupts everything."
The Warriors’ defense made a goal line stand in the second quarter when the Knights had a first-and-goal from Warwick’s one-yard line, forcing the Knights to settle for a field goal by Johnson. This time, however, Kramer rolled right and scored on a six-yard run with with 1:02 remaining in the third quarter to make it 23-7.
"They’re tough kids," Locker said of his team. "(Hempfield) is big, physically. That’s a pretty good football team. That’s a real physical football and their run offense was hard for us to stop. They were bigger than we were. Once it got past 17-7, I think we lost a lot of wind in the sails."
With Warwick finding little success running the ball against Hempfield’s defense, managing just 26 yards on 26 carries, the Warriors tried to make things happen through the air. But the Knights put pressure on Pennypacker all night long and Warwick mustered only five first downs on its final three possessions.
"They weren’t going to let us run if we had been in a running set," Locker said. "We thought that our best shot at success was throwing the ball. We had open receivers, we did some things well at times. When you become a passing offense, long drives don’t happen … they were finding ways to get pressure with four people. That can’t happen. We’ve got five linemen, they can’t get pressure with four people. They can’t get pressure with five people – we’ve got to be able to pick it up. We had a hard time keeping Pennypacker upright tonight and he had to hurry a lot of throws and it makes for a long night."
Kramer scored again for Hempfield on a 26-yard run early in the fourth quarter, and then later after the Knights took over on downs at the Warrior 43-yard line, Tyrell Wickersham’s 21-yard run down the left sideline with 3:15 left completed the scoring.
"The last score is what it is – I wasn’t going to punt," Locker said. "At that point, the idea is you want to let the kids compete. That’s on me. I don’t think the final score is indicative of the way the kids played."
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