Warriors’ comeback foiled by the Falcons
BRUCE MORGAN Record Express Sports Editor
, Staff Writer
Warwick had several shots at bringing down Cedar Crest’s Evan Horn.
But to no avail.
And when the Falcons’ sophomore running back scored on a 50-yard pass play with 6:10 to go in the fourth quarter last Friday night, snapping a 19-19 tie, Cedar Crest took a lead it never relinquished.
"(Horn) made an unbelievable football play," Warwick coach Bob Locker said. "We should have tackled him four times. We didn’t. He’s a real good athlete. It was just a great football play and I think it took some air out of us."
Cedar Crest added another late score on quarterback Gage Ocker’s 52-yard TD run and the Falcons went on to hand the Warriors a 32-19 loss in Cornwall in both teams’ Section One opener.
Overall, Ocker ran for a game-high 158 yards and two scores, while also throwing for 121 yards and a TD, and Horn reached paydirt twice, including a pick six, to lead the hosts to victory.
"Five (Ocker) and 33 (Horn) really hurt us," Locker said.
The efforts of those two in particular spoiled a valiant comeback bid by the Warriors, who coughed the ball up three times in the first half while falling behind 17-6 to the Falcons (1-0 league, 2-2 overall). Second-half touchdown runs by quarterback Matt Pennypacker and running back David Weaver pulled Warwick (0-1 league, 2-2 overall) even early in the fourth quarter, but it wasn’t to be.
"I thought they did a real nice job of coming back," Locker said. "It showed they have heart. They could have laid down, they didn’t, so we can build on that. But … we didn’t make that many mistakes in three games as we made tonight in one game."
The first of those mistakes came at the end of Warwick’s opening possession, a series in which they twice converted on fourth down – once on a Pennypacker (13-24-1, 191 yards) to Anthony Fatjo five-yard hookup and the other on a Cedar Crest penalty. The Warriors were again looking at a fourth-down situation, this time from the Falcons’ 6-yard-line, but Weaver (10-22 rushing) fumbled and the ball was recovered by Crest.
That looked costly when Ocker kept the ball on a read option, ran right and scored from 49 yards out to give his team a 7-0 lead with 4:22 remaining in the opening stanza.
It took the Warriors just two minutes to respond after that. Thanks to a 20-yard run from Gabe Taylor (13-48 rushing) and a 38-yard reception from Austin Myers, who finished with a game-high six catches for 128 yards, the Warriors again marched into the red zone. This time, Tommy Garner scored on a two-yard run, but the PAT missed following a high snap, and Crest maintained a 7-6 advantage with 1:55 to go in the fourth.
Warwick looked like it was going to get the ball back after the defense held Crest 3-and-out. But the punt was muffed by Myers and the Falcons were back in business at the Warriors’ 38. They stalled, but Crest kicker Soren Frost booted a 27-yard field goal to make the score 10-6 with 8:21 left in the half.
"My hat’s off to them – that’s a good Cedar Crest team," Locker said. "We dug ourselves a serious hole in the first half. You can’t make that many mistakes in the first half and then try to come back and it caught up to us. I thought the defense did a real good job in the first half limiting the damage. We could have been down a whole lot more than (17-6)."
The hole for the Warriors grew from four to 11 points when Horn stepped in front of a Pennypacker pass intended for Myers and returned it 27 yards to paydirt with 7:30 left in the half, which put the Falcons up 17-6, and that’s how it remained going to the locker room.
"(Horn) did a great job on that pick of reading," Locker said. "I’m going to assume it was film study because he picked us dead and he’s a pretty good athlete."
The Warriors, in turn, did a great job on their first series of the second half after taking over on their own 6-yard line. Pennypacker hit Myers for a 40-yard completion, and three plays later, Warwick’s senior signal-caller scored on a one-yard QB keeper to cut the Falcons’ lead to 17-12 with 3:19 remaining in the third. The drive, although productive, was also costly in that fullback/defensive end Jake Shillady (9-46 rushing) injured his ankle.
It didn’t get any easier for Warwick when Pennypacker was tackled in the end zone with 56 seconds left in the third, resulting in a safety for the Falcons, who went up 19-12 heading to the final stanza. But the Warriors got a lift from their defense, getting the ball back at the Falcons’ 48 for their next possessions. With just 2:50 elapsed in the fourth, Weaver’s five-yard TD run off left tackle capped a seven-play drive and Kobi Biemesderfer added the PAT to knot things up at 19-all.
Pennypacker had a couple of key completions on that series, finding Fatjo for 14 yards to convert on a fourth down, and then connecting on a 19-yard hookup with Garner to set up Weaver’s third TD of the season.
The bad news for the Warriors, however, was that injuries had cost them not only Shillady, but fullback/linebacker Alexander Mork and tight end/linebacker Jordan Cipalla. The Falcons’ offense was able to take advantage when Horn ran a crossing pattern, hauled in Ocker’s aerial, broke a couple of tackles and turned on the jets, sprinting down the right sideline for a 50-yard go-ahead touchdown with 6:10 to go. Frost’s PAT made the score 26-19.
The back-breaker came on the Falcons’ next series, as Ocker rolled left, turned the corner and raced 52 yards along the left sideline, extending the cushion to 32-19 with 4:07 left.
"They found a way to seal the edge," Locker said. "They did a lot of really smart things. (Ocker) is a pretty serious offensive weapon and he’s real fast. They’ve got some good speed."
Unfortunately for the Warriors, they managed just eight yards of offense on their final two possessions and then Cedar Crest ran out the clock to seal the win.
"We don’t have excuses, but we were limited in the offensive sets we could run in the fourth quarter due to injuries," Locker said. "We tried to make the most we could out of it, but we were doing a good job of running the football and setting up play-action pass and once we went to four wides, they did a good job of bringing heat on the edges … It was hard for (Pennypacker) to throw at the end of the game. They were just bringing the house. We were trying to go a little deeper than we would normally – it takes two and a half seconds and we were getting two."
Warwick returns to action this Friday when they host Manheim Township at Grosh Field at 7 p.m.
More WARRIORS, page B-10