Warriors pull away from McCaskey, 66-28

By on November 8, 2017
Warwick junior tight end Hayden Rucci (33) celebrates his 35-yard TD reception last Friday as QB Adam Ricketts moves in. Photo by Preston Whitcraft

Warwick junior tight end Hayden Rucci (33) celebrates his 35-yard TD reception last Friday as QB Adam Ricketts moves in. Photo by Preston Whitcraft

In the moments after last Friday’s game, Warwick coach Bob Locker suspected his team’s fate.

The Warriors entered the night 10th in the District Three 6A power ratings, but they were still hopeful, if the cards fell right, to snag a spot in the top eight.

Turns out, Warwick didn’t get the help it needed — Hempfield, Wilson, and Dallastown all claimed wins — and just missed a playoff berth.

But that didn’t stop Locker — after the Warriors scored 60 points or more for the fourth time this season in a 66-28 Section One victory over McCaskey at Grosh Field in Lititz — from offering high words of praise to his players.

On the heels of tough back-to-back losses to Hempfield and Manheim Township, Warwick (4-3 L-L, 6-4 overall) ended it with three straight wins.

“The Hempfield game hurt, the Manheim Township game, they were just better than we were, and we did not give in or give up,” Locker said. “They found a way to keep playing and we got better. It speaks highly of the kids and community. The last three weeks have really been a pleasure to watch us do what we’ve done.”

“It’s bittersweet,” junior tight end/defensive end Hayden Rucci added, “because it’s an awesome win, but I’m so sad to see the seniors go. It was a good way to ship them out if it is the last one.”

The ground game was nothing short of awesome for Warwick, as Nick Fucci (18 carries, 121 yards, 2 TDs) and Isaac Rissinger (18-106, 2 TDs) powered a rushing attack which gained 323 of the Warriors’ 482 total yards.

“We were just blowing (McCaskey) off the line, just pounding it and moving the ball,” said Rucci, who added a 35-yard TD reception.

Moving the ball wasn’t a problem for Warwick in the first quarter, but turnovers were, and giveaways on its first two drives kept it 0-0 after one.

Finally, after a nice punt return by Trey Glass, Rissinger’s 14-yard TD run capped a seven-play, 48-yard scoring drive. With Pietro Elliott adding the first of his nine PATs, the Warriors took a 7-0 lead with 10:16 left in the half.

That was just the start of a second quarter in which Warwick and McCaskey (1-6 L-L, 2-8 overall) combined to put 48 points on the board.

“The first quarter, we should have scored the first two drives,” Locker said. “That’s just us being sloppy. But we got our stuff together.”

Fucci scored on a one-yard dive with 4:54 to go on the first-half clock, and then after Alex Lawrence recovered a perfectly-executed onside kick, Rucci hauled in a short pass from QB Adam Ricketts (6-9-1, 159 yards, 2 TDs) on the right sideline and took it 35 yards to the house for a 21-0 lead.

“I was going right out to the sideline, cut it upfield, and all I saw was (wide receiver Carter) Forney with the most amazing block ever,” Rucci recalled. “I mean, that was all Forney. I wouldn’t have had that if it wasn’t for him.”

The Red Tornado answered with a quick strike when QB Tallian Lehr (10-22-1, 177 yards) hit Isiah Speller on a 63-yard TD pass, and just like that, it was 21-7 with 3:01 remaining in the half.

Ricketts and Forney, though, weren’t content taking a 14-point lead into the break. Only 12 seconds after the Tornado got on the board, Forney (3 catches, 97 yards) ran a slant pattern and went the distance, scoring on an 80-yard catch-and-run.

“We set up some things,” Locker said. “The slant to Forney that he busted was a thing of beauty. And the pass to Hayden, if you see film, that was just a perfect stalk block by Forney, and that’s just an attitude doing things like that.”

Still, the first-half fireworks weren’t done yet. An INT by Warrior linebacker Preston Simmons set up Fucci’s second TD of the night, a two-yard run, and then Lehr’s one-yard touchdown pass to Jamiere Gray at the buzzer cut the Tornado’s deficit to 35-13 going to the locker room.

Then when Elliott split the uprights with a 41-yard field goal with 3:51 elapsed in the third quarter, the Warriors seemed to be in command at 38-13.

But McCaskey made things interesting, scoring on a 75-yard pitch right to Richard Scarborough (5 carries, 89 yards), then recovering the ball on a short kick and punching it again on a Lehr-to-Gray 11-yard TD connection. That cut the Warriors’ lead to 38-28 with 5:53 to play in the third quarter.

“We got sloppy for a little bit,” Locker said, “but we kept moving the ball and eventually they made some mistakes and we made some plays.”

A lot of those plays on the Warriors’ next series involved handing the ball off to Rissinger. Warwick’s senior back carried the ball on 10 of 11 plays, culminating with a three-yard TD run with :28.7 left in the quarter which restored some order for the Warriors, putting them ahead 45-28.

“It calmed everything down” Locker said.

“We said, ‘We’re just going to move the ball down the field,’ and that’s exactly what we did,” Rucci said. “Shouts out to the linemen for that.”

Not long afterward, Warrior safety Patrick Quinn recovered a fumble by Lehr in excellent field position, and Lawrence (8-39 rushing) all but sealed the win with a 13-yard TD run, making it 52-28.

For the game, Warwick’s defense held McCaskey to just 67 yards on the ground. Then in the final minutes, they were rewarded for their hard work with two defensive TDs on back-to-back plays. The first of those came when Lehr fumbled while being sacked for a five-yard loss and tackle Ross Formica pounced on the loose ball in the end zone. Just 30 seconds later, a bad pitch from Lehr to Scarborough was recovered by linebacker Danny Bannout for a 66-28 lead with 8:10 remaining.

“That was cool. We’ll never hear the end of Formica’s,” Locker smiled, “but that’s still pretty cool. That’s nice for them to do that.”

And for the Warriors, it was pretty cool to end the season with a third straight win.

“I’m really proud of the way the kids played,” Locker said. “I’m proud of the seniors. Like I told them, it’s been a pleasure and an honor to be their coach and watch them grow. The last two years, we’ve found some success on the football field and it has a lot to do with this group of kids that are departing. I hope the younger kids paid attention to some of what they saw here because if we’re going to continue it, you’ve got to see those who go before you and mimic what they do right.”

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