Resilient Warriors notch first win Good becomes latest to go on injured list
By: BRUCE MORGAN Record Express Sports Editor, Staff Writer
The magnitude of a fourth-and-3 play on its final possession of the first half wasn’t lost on Warwick last Friday night.
The Warriors called a timeout to make sure they were on the same page.
Considering that Cedar Crest had stolen the momentum away from Warwick, slicing its early 21-0 deficit to just 21-14 late in the second quarter, the Warriors were obviously hoping to end the half with something positive.
And that is just what junior running back Albert Powell provided for them.
On his second carry of the night, Powell found an opening and rumbled 32 yards to the end zone with just 58 seconds left in the half. That gave the Warriors a 28-14 edge going to the locker room and they never looked back, defeating Cedar Crest 45-34 to claim the first win of the season in both teams’ Section One opener at Earl Boltz Stadium in Cornwall.
"It snapped their momentum," senior running back Anthony Boak said of Powell’s touchdown run. "It was huge. I don’t think anyone was really expecting it — we were just trying to get the first down and he stepped up. (Powell) and the entire defense played great."
Powell (6-38 rushing) and senior Brady Forney (14-88) stepped up with two TD’s apiece and Boak had 27 carries for a game-high 177 yards and one score, as Warwick (1-0 L-L, 1-3 overall) churned out 303 total yards on the ground against Cedar Crest’s defense.
Afterward, inside Warwick’s locker room, the players were finally able to celebrate after a frustrating 0-3 start.
"It feels great. It’s been awhile since we’ve won … I really can’t explain it right now," Forney said.
"It’s the best feeling," Boak added. "It’s a weight off our shoulders and we’ve just got to move on to Township now. That’s a huge game … The first two games (vs. Dallastown and Conestoga Valley) were there for the taking and we just didn’t pull it out. (Against) Garden Spot, we didn’t play to the best of our abilities. But tonight, we played great and it feels great to win."
The victory, though, came at a costly price for the Warriors. Senior captain Jared Good, a two-way lineman, left the field on crutches with an ankle injury sustained in the first half.
"He’s a great leader and a great player — just a great person on and off the field," Boak said. "We’ve got to move on and work with what we’ve got."
Warwick coach Bob Locker complimented his players in the post-game huddle for their resiliency while enduring a number of injuries to key players this year.
"If you’d have said throw out a starting lineup at the beginning of the year," Locker said, "(Tyler) Farnan was going to play quarterback, (Nate) Johnson was going to be a fullback, (Brett) Brosemer was going to be one offensive lineman, Good … I have serious concerns. We think it might be a pretty serious injury. (Zach) Hurst is out. We’ve got kids that should be playing JV games. Not that they’re not doing their very best, but based on their age, ninth-graders shouldn’t be playing varsity and that’s where we’re at. But that’s neither here nor there. The most important thing is the kids found a way to get this done tonight and they deserve all the credit in the world."
The Warriors found a way to score on their opening three possessions on the strength of its running game. Boak carried the ball four times for 76 yards the first time Warwick touched the ball and his 11-yard TD run, coupled with Shawn Mearig’s first of six PATs, put the Warriors in front 7-0 with just 1:55 elapsed.
"Boak did a great job," Locker said. "He runs tough, he’s tough as nails and does whatever we ask him to do. I thought Powell ran real well in the first half. They made some adjustments to the power set and that’s how it goes. But I thought those two and Forney all ran real well. They were not going to let Forney be the one who beat them tonight."
"The line blocked great," Boak said. "Coach said if we can move them, we were going to run the ball and we did. The line did a great job in the first half and for the whole game and the wideouts blocked and sprung us for a couple of big plays."
They added a couple more big plays on their next series, and Forney capped a nine-play, 69-yard drive with a 15-yard TD run.
"We wanted to line it up and run it down their throats, which I think we did a pretty good job of," Forney said. "We didn’t throw too many passes because we didn’t really need to. We did a good job of moving people."
A big special teams play set up Warwick up for its third drive, with senior Korey Johnson returning a punt 49 yards to the Falcons’ 12. Four plays later, Powell scored on a one-yard dive to make it 21-0 with 2:23 left in the first.
"We thought that (Cedar Crest defensive end Darin Kline) was a real good football players and that (Brian Wawrzyniak) and (Ryan Smith) were real good linebackers, and we kinda went out of our way by movement and formation to try to run away from them early on and we got away with it for awhile," Locker said. "They caught on later and we adjusted to their adjustments with some other stuff. We tried not to throw because when we were ahead, we thought there were a lot of things that could go wrong throwing the football. And the times we did throw, I thought (Forney) did a pretty good job."
Penalties and dropped passes curtailed the Warriors’ momentum, however, and then Cedar Crest created on a 47-yard punt return by Levengood to the Warwick 15. On the next play, Levengood (11-24-1), who threw for 132 yards and four touchdowns, found Daulton Ritter for an eight-yard scoring strike.
Following a defensive hold by the Falcons, Cedar Crest put together a nine-play, 52-yard drive, capped by Levengood’s six-yard run to cut the Warriors’ lead to 21-14 with 3:24 remaining in the first half.
Then with Good on the sideline and the Warriors facing a gut check, they responded. Sophomore Aaron Springer completed a 13-yard first down pass to tight end Ryan Wiegand to move the ball into Falcon territory. Then four plays later, Powell broke off his 32-yard TD run to get Warwick back on track.
"I thought that was pretty crucial because that kinda took some steam out (of Cedar Crest)," Locker said. "I thought we suffered an emotional letdown when Good got hurt. We got kinda quiet. He’s a captain and more than just being a captain, he’s a genuine leader. It was kinda like a little wind went out for a split second from our kids, and to find a way to score before halftime gave us a little extra cushion and it turned out be huge."
Two Cedar Crest turnovers early in the second half also turned out to be huge. Senior linebacker Chad Messimer recovered a fumble at the Falcons’ 19, and although Warwick’s offense stalled, Mearig split the uprights with a 28-yard field goal.
Then on the Falcons’ ensuing possession, the Warriors’ defense grabbed their first INT of the season, courtesy of JA Howland on a tipped pass. Following Howland’s 26-yard return to the Crest 19, back-to-back offsides penalties contributed to Warwick sending out the field goal unit at the Falcons’ 11. Mearig then nailed a 28-yard field goal, but Crest was penalized for a roughing the kicker penalty and the Warriors got a first down. Two plays later, Forney scored from four yards out on a toss left, putting Warwick up 38-14 with 4:44 remaining in the third quarter.
"The roughing the kicker (penalty) was a break and we took advantage of it," Locker said.
The Falcons answered with a Levengood-to-Ritter 26-yard TD pass, one of three scoring connections between those two. Ritter finished with four receptions for 80 yards.
But Warwick came back to score on Springer’s one-yard QB sneak on fourth-and-short to give them a 45-20 advantage with 9:01 remaining in the fourth.
Levengood wasn’t finished for Crest, though. The senior signal-caller fired TD passes of 10 yards to Ritter and 14 yards to Wawrzynkiak on the the Falcons’ next two possessions to cut their deficit to 45-34 with 1:27 remaining.
But the Warriors recovered the ensuing onside kick and ran out the clock to clinch their first win of the season.
"It feels real good for them to find a way to win a football game because it’s hard to do sometimes," Locker said.
They are hoping to add another win this Friday night when they host cross-town rival Manheim Township at 7 p.m. at Grosh Field.
"We’re going to enjoy this (win over Crest)," Forney said. "Everything’s going to get better from here on out. We have more confidence now and I’m sure we’re going to amp up the practices because of this." More WARRIORS, page B-5