Benjamin, MT frustrate Warwick

By on October 1, 2014
Warrior senior ball carrier Alex Dagen tries to break a tackle while battling for extra yardage last Friday night against Manheim Township. Teammates Avery Quinn (66) and Ryan Deibler (25) are shown blocking.

Warrior senior ball carrier Alex Dagen tries to break a tackle while battling
for extra yardage last Friday night against Manheim Township. Teammates
Avery Quinn (66) and Ryan Deibler (25) are shown blocking.

When Warwick’s opening drive reached the Manheim Township 17-yard line, coach Bob Locker had a decision to make on fourth-and-5.

Go for it, or attempt a 34-yard field goal.

The kick would have been no chip shot.

And besides, with the Warriors facing an explosive Blue Streaks team averaging just over 32 points per game, Locker knew they had to get their touchdowns when they could.

“We knew we had some young kids in the secondary and in the back of my mind, I was worried about the fact they’ve got really good wideouts,” he said. “My fear was that it would be a three, four score game and we had to put a drive together. I just thought it was going to be necessary to score a touchdown, so I went for it.”

Locker’s fears were correct.

Led by junior QB Erik Benjamin, the Blue Streaks scored on their first three possessions and earned a 35-7 victory over Warwick in a Section One game in Neffsville last Friday night. Benjamin finished 17-of-24 for 343 yards, passing for two scores and rushing for another to help the Blue Streaks improve to 2-0 league (3-2 overall).

While Manheim Township lost running back Cartier Morton with a sprained ankle in the first half, the Warriors (1-1 L-L, 2-3 overall) saw a couple of their star players sidelined due to early-game injuries, including DB/wideout Chris Borg and linebacker/running back Mason Eshleman. WR/DB Tyler Melhorn never dressed for the game.

“We had a whole bunch of new people out there tonight and that certainly didn’t make things any easier,” Locker remarked.

With the Streaks’ defense limiting Warwick to 55 rushing yards, that made things difficult for the Warriors to gain momentum. David Weaver had a team-high 33 yards on 12 carries.

Benjamin, meanwhile, was sharp from the outset, connecting on his first seven aerials, including a 37-yard TD pass to Fisayo Oluleye (6 receptions, 113 yards) with 3:12 left in the first. Daniel Zeswitz added the first of his five PATs to give the Blue Streaks a lead they never relinquished.

“We didn’t put any pressure on (Benjamin), so we gave him time to make three reads,” Locker said. “If you give a quarterback with a good arm time to make three reads, he’s going to find you. Their wideouts are good. They moved No. 3 (Oluleye) into slot and they found some match-ups they like. We had a hard time covering him. They took advantage of what we were giving and kudos to them for that.”

Overall, Manheim Township outgained Warwick 248-85 in total yardage in the opening half, and when senior Jacob Zug (11 carries, 71 yards) scored on an eight-yard run, capping an eight-play, 89-yard drive with 9:56 to go in the half, the Blue Streaks were up 14-0.

A short time later, Colin Gibble’s (9-of-22, 125 yards, 1 INT) 11-yard pass to Tyler Gerhart moved the chains for the first time since Warwick’s opening drive. The Warriors were hoping to do so again on Gibble’s QB sneak from their own 45, but they didn’t get a favorable spot.

“Hideous, horrible,” Locker said of the referees’ spot. “I’ll look at it on film and if I’m wrong, I’ll be the first to tell you next time I see you that I was wrong. But it’s spotted and then you move it back two feet? I don’t get it. We need to make more plays than just the quarterback sneak. Momentum-wise, I don’t know, but it would have helped.”

With a short field, the Blue Streaks capitalized, scoring five plays later, as Tucker Evans took the handoff, bounced it left and scored from nine yards out to extend Township’s lead to 21-0.

Following a 15-yard kickoff return from Isaac Rissinger and taking over at their own 39 with 4:01 remaining in the half, the Warriors were hopeful of cutting into the Streaks’ lead at the half. Unfortunately for Warwick, Township DB John Stutz thwarted the drive with an INT, but Zeswitz’s 33-yard field goal attempt with :53.9 left on the clock was wide left.

The Blue Streaks then took a page out of the Warriors’ playbook to start the second half, operating a ball-control 80-yard drive which ate nearly six minutes off the clock. Benjamin was 5-of-6 for 70 yards on the series before calling his own number and scoring on a one-yard TD run.

“They have talented wideouts, we have some kids playing that are young or haven’t played a lot this year,” Locker said. “Plus like I said, Benjamin had too long to sit in the pocket and throw.”

After getting a hold from their defense on Township’s next series, the Warriors got a positive reward. Gibble hit senior wide receiver Jordan Cipalla for 51 yards down the left sideline, and three plays later, Warwick’s senior QB ran up the gut for a four-yard TD run with :51.8 to go in the third. Kobi Biemesderfer added the PAT to make it 28-7.

The score remained that way when the Blue Streaks punted following a three-and-out. But Warwick was penalized for too many men on the field, and instead of taking over on Township’s 48, the Blue Streaks got a first down.

“It’s an honest mistake because we had a whole lot of substitutions special teams-wise, and it happens,” Locker said. “I’m not sure it changes the world, but I would have liked to have a crack at the ball at the 45 (down) 28-7 to see if we could make it 28-14 and turn it into a football game.”

Given new life, the Blue Streaks put it out of reach as Benjamin and Isaac Vazquez hooked up for a 77-yard TD strike with 10:19 remaining, extending the lead to 35-7.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *