Warriors roll on with 58-17 win over the Falcons

By on October 3, 2018
Warwick senior Nick Fucci rushed for 101 yards and two touchdowns in the Warriors’ win over Cedar Crest last Friday. Photo by Cathy Chapis

Warwick senior Nick Fucci rushed for 101 yards and two touchdowns in the Warriors’ win over Cedar Crest last Friday. Photo by Cathy Chapis

When Cedar Crest took the field to open the second half of Friday’s game, they trailed Warwick 35-17, but hoped to regain the momentum.

The Falcons had made a field goal on their last possession and sacked Joey McCracken to end the first half. They would receive the kick-off and any points would pull them within two scores. They and their fans made a lot of noise in anticipation.

“We could hear them in their locker room (during halftime),” Warwick coach Bob Locker said. “They were screaming. They were loud.”

Falcon QB Logan Horn dropped back to pass on third-and-3 from Warwick’s 47 and toward his right sideline. DB Justin Gerhart hit the Falcon receiver as the ball arrived and the impact sent it up into the air. Caleb Schmitz ran under it and ran down the sideline and did not stop until the end zone.

“I saw the ball in the air and decided to make a play,” Schmitz said. “Gerhart made a really great hit on the guy, which unfortunately got him hurt. It was just green from there. I wasn’t going to let anyone catch me.”

Gerhart remained on the turf following the play and did not return.

“We took him out the game to be precautionary,” Locker said. “He’ll be fine.”

The stadium and the Falcons’ sideline went very quiet.

While the Cedar Crest offense returned to the field, they never recovered from the shock and did not score again as the Warriors rolled to a 58-17 Section One victory in Cornwall.

A blow-out victory seemed unlikely early in the game. Instead, a shootout appeared to be brewing as each team opened with touchdown drives.

Warwick (3-0 Section One, 5-1 overall) used quick strikes on their first two possessions to get their first touchdowns. Adam Ricketts opened the game with an 18-yard completion to Gerhart, which moved them to the Falcon 42. Consecutive runs of six yards each by Nick Fucci had the Warriors at the 30.

From the 30-yard line, Ricketts dropped to pass and went to Hayden Rucci, who knocked the pass into the air briefly and a Falcon DB went for the ball instead of the tackle. Rucci secured the catch while the DB reached into now empty air, leaving Rucci running untouched for the end zone with only 1:33 gone in the game.

On their next possession, the Warriors needed just two plays to score. Fucci followed a Ricketts to Trey Glass completion with a 46 yard run. From an I-formation, he took the hand-off through a large hole up the middle. Into the secondary, he out-raced everyone towards the left pylon for the Warriors’ second touchdown.

In between, the Falcons (1-2 L-L, 3-3 overall) used a more methodical drive to go 80 yards in nine plays for a Chris Rios TD.

Following a Falcon punt, the Warriors began their own methodical drive which took over five minutes and two fourth down conversions to complete. On the first one, Fucci bulled forward three yards to convert fourth-and-two from the Warriors’ 36.

“We believe we can get two yards any time we want,” Locker said. “If you have weapons, you have to have faith you can do that. We want the kids to understand that we have faith in them.”

On the next play, Ricketts dropped to pass, rolled to his left and found Rucci nine yards down field. Rucci took the pass, nearly turned around, but stayed in stride and raced to the Falcon 32.

Fucci opened the second quarter by converting fourth-and-one from the 23. Following Rucci’s catch and run to the one yard line, Fucci leapt over the goal line to extend the lead to 21-7.

Gerhart accounted for the next quick strike when he intercepted Horn’s pass on second-and-21, returning the pick-six with 9:57 left in the half.

“We knew that their receivers were trying to do comebacks,” Gerhart said. “I read the play, jumped the pass and took my chance and took it all the way for the touchdown. One of the defenders came in front of me. Once I got past him, I knew I was in.”

Horn returned to form following the interception and marched his team 80 yards to cut the deficit to 28-14 with 7:18 left in the half.

Unfortunately for the Falcons, the Warriors reestablished the 21-point lead as McCracken led a drive down to the six-yard line with passes to Rucci, Glass and Fucci. From first-and-goal at the six, Glass ran a pattern that feinted going over the middle before turning for the sideline. Ricketts found Glass in the end zone and a 35-14 lead.

Horn then drove the Falcons from their 21 to the Warrior 12 with 1:11 left to play. Nick Coomer, who disrupted many plays in the Cedar Crest backfield, forced Horn to overthrow his receiver on third down and the Falcons settled for the field goal.

“I thought that was big, in terms of not letting them score a touchdown,” Locker said of the defensive stand. “We then responded with the second pick and that took a lot of the wind out of their sails.”

While the Falcons made noisy neighbors at halftime, the Warrior coaches set about making the necessary changes.

“The defensive coordinators made a couple of adjustments and we talked to the kids about some minor things,” Locker said. “We made a concerted effort to not let them hurt us with a couple of plays they had been successful with.”

Gerhart made sure the Falcons sails remained empty when he made the play that led to Schmitz’s first interception.

“I saw the pass coming,” Gerhart recalled. “I went into the receiver and put a good hit on him. After that, I heard everyone cheering and found out that we scored.”

Schmitz also ended the Falcons’ next drive with a diving interception at the Warwick 16. Eleven plays and four minutes later, Pietro Elliot made a 21-yard field goal to put the Warriors in front 45-17.

Playing free safety, Rucci intercepted another Horn attempt and made a long return to the Cedar Crest 23. Three plays later (which included a sack), he turned McCracken’s pass into a 29-yard touchdown. Patrick Tocci set the final score with a 22-yard run with 34 seconds in the game.

“We have a pretty good offense and our defense has been playing really well,” Locker said. “They kind of took Trey Glass out of the equation. We got some other people the ball offensively. If you give us something, we can figure it out and then take advantage. Defensively in the second half, I think we played a really good football game.”

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