Mistakes frustrate Warwick in 23-16 loss to the Buckskins
By: BRUCE MORGAN Record Express Sports Editor, Staff Writer
As Warwick coach Bob Locker talked in a post-game interview on Friday night, there was one word that he often repeated.
It was something that his squad struggled to do in their battle against non-league foe Conestoga Valley. On five different occasions, Warwick took the ball inside the Buckskins’ 25-yard line, but came away with six points just one time. And for the second week in a row, the Warriors outgained their opponent in total yardage, but got nothing to show for it in the win column.
With just :52.8 left in the fourth quarter, CV capitalized on a short field when running back Anthony Brown scored his second touchdown of the night, a 23-yard scamper down the right sideline to help his Buckskins erase a 16-15 deficit and boost them to a 23-16 victory at Joseph Grosh Field in Lititz.
"It shouldn’t have come down to that (final CV drive)," Locker said outside of the Warriors’ locker room. "We made a couple of defensive errors in the first half, (but) we corrected it at halftime and I thought we corrected some things on offense and we moved the ball. But we just made mistakes. We had a chance to put the game away … There are crucial periods in a football game and when plays present themselves, you’ve got to make plays. It’s really as simple as that and we didn’t. We’ve got to learn how to finish drives, we’ve got to learn how to finish opportunities and finish games and we didn’t."
While the Buckskins (1-1) earned their first win of the season, the Warriors fell to 0-2 going into this Friday’s final non-league tune-up at Garden Spot at 7 p.m.
"I’m looking at it as, we’ll look at film, see what things we did well and try to figure out to where to go from here," Locker said. "Garden Spot’s a very, very, very good football — it’s a difficult task ahead of us. We want to try to figure out how to win games, but we’ve got to figure out how to self-correct. We just got to cut some of (the mistakes) out. It’s simple. It’s not like in year’s past. We can’t afford little mistakes. We have to play really, really good football. I really felt the effort was there tonight — I have no gripes about the effort of the kids. I really thought our kids gave everything they had physically. The mental thing, we’ve got to clean it up."
The loss spoiled a big night for seniors Anthony Boak (33-164 rushing) and Brady Forney (7-149), who both churned out more than 100 yards on the ground while helping the Warriors outgain Conestoga Valley in total yardage, 354-220. Sophomore quarterback Aaron Springer made his first varsity start under center in place of senior Tyler Farnan, who suffered a concussion in Warwick’s opening-week loss to Dallastown.
Boak, in fact, made his presence felt early, running the ball five times for 58 yards on the Warriors’ opening series as they marched the ball to the Buckskins’ 6-yard line.
"(Anthony)’s not very big, but for the most part tonight, he ran very hard," Locker said. "He ran hard last week. He’s running like somebody who wants to seize his opportunity, be a varsity football player and get the most out of it. He’s been a pleasant surprise the last two weeks — he really has."
Warwick’s drive stalled inside the 10, though, and senior Shawn Mearig kicked the first of his three field goals — a 25-yarder — to put the Warriors up 3-0 with 3:25 remaining in the first quarter.
"We’ve got to finish, man," Locker said. "With Nate Johnson being out, we don’t have a legitimate fullback and in years past, once we got inside the 10, we lined up and ran behind a fullback and we just don’t have that luxury right now. We’re really not built to pound straight ahead and that kinda makes life a little difficult when you get in the red zone. We’re going to have to find some different things to do."
In a first half marked by big plays from each team, CV followed with some fireworks, as Anthony Brown (8-155 rushing) broke off a 49-yard jaunt to the WHS 16, where Korey Johnson made a TD-saving tackle. Two plays later, quarterback Terrance Taylor (14-57 rushing) faked a jet sweep left and darted 19 yards to give the Bucks their first lead. After Robbie Cardina added the PAT, CV took a 7-3 lead with :59.8 left in the first.
"They were blown defensive assigments," Locker said of CV’s big plays in the first half. "We corrected it at halftime."
Still trailing by four points midway through the second, Warwick found itself pinned deep in its own territory. But Springer gave his team some breathing room with a 12-yard hook-up to Korey Johnson. Overall, the sophomore QB was 4-of-9 for 46 yards, with two INT’s.
"For the most part, for a sophomore kid, I thought he managed the game real well," Locker said. "Early on with play-action pass, he hit the open receivers and did a good job. He’s not supposed to be playing varsity football yet — it’s not the way you plan things out. Things happen and that’s that. I really don’t think Farnan will be back next week and I’m sure he’ll be better with another week’s work under his belt."
Later, on the fifth play of the drive, Warwick stepped up with a big play of its own. Forney, who was slowed by leg cramps in the second half, found a lane, took a direct snap, broke it to the right sideline and outraced CV defenders Chase Stillman, Michel Richard and Tyler Kolb to the end zone for an 81-yard TD run. Mearig’s PAT gave the Warriors a 10-7 edge with 5:08 to go in the first half.
But it didn’t last long. Less than a minute later, Brown busted through the first level, cut to his right, jumped a diving tackle by Johnson at the 10, and finished off a 64-yard TD run to put CV back in front. Then on a busted play on the PAT, Cardina fired a pass to Logan Miller for the two points, making it 15-10.
On their ensuing possession, the Warriors were knocking on the door to regain the lead, as Forney sprinted 57 yards to the CV 22. Following a penalty, Hoak’s 19-yard run moved the ball to the Buckskins’ 7. Again, though, Warwick stalled and Mearig split the uprights with a 20-yard field goal to slice Conestoga Valley’s lead to 15-13 at the break.
It remained that way when sophomore Austin Myers recovered a fumble by CV’s Tyler Petri early in the second half, giving the Warriors good field position at their own 42-yard line. Mearig then capped a 10-play drive with his third field goal of the game — a 37-yarder — with 3:29 left in the third quarter, giving Warwick a 16-15 lead.
That slim advantage stood up for most of the second half thanks to a solid effort from Warwick’s defense, which allowed just 35 yards and one first down on CV’s first four possessions after the break.
Meanwhile, the Warriors threatened to add to their lead early in the fourth, but Brown picked off an underthrown pass in the CV red zone. Shortly thereafter, Powell recovered a fumble by Taylor near midfield, but the Bucks’ defense dug in to keep their deficit at one.
With less than 4:00 left in the fourth, though, Warwick had a daunting task in front of them after CV’s Cardina pinned them at their own one-yard line following a 49-yard punt. Then a costly penalty on second-and-short led to a three-and-out, and the Buckskins took over with tremendous field position at the WHS 22. Two plays later, Brown got the ball on a QB option and he scampered 23 yards along the right sideline to paydirt for the winning points with :52.8 remaining in the game.
Warwick got the ball back one more time, but Springer’s desperation pass from the Warriors’ 26 was intercepted by CV’s Richard and that was the game.
"The defense played a great second half," Locker said. "I mean, seriously, you can’t ask them to do that much — that punt rolling out of bounds at the one-yard line and then we get five yards on first down and we jump offsides on second down. You just can’t do that. Three first downs and it’s all over. We had our chances. We just didn’t finish things." More WARWICK, page B-8