Kline throws four TD passes in Warwick’s win over GS

By on September 13, 2017
Warwick junior Nick Fucci (10), who ran for 154 yards and two touchdowns against Garden Spot, carries a Spartan tackler for extra yardage during last Friday night’s game. Also pictured for the Warriors are Jorden Cruz (far right) and Nick Coomer (60). Photo by Cathy Chapis

Warwick junior Nick Fucci (10), who ran for 154 yards and two touchdowns against Garden Spot, carries a Spartan tackler for extra yardage during last Friday night’s game. Also pictured for the Warriors are Jorden Cruz (far right) and Nick Coomer (60). Photo by Cathy Chapis

Warriors, Spartans combine for 1,155 yards of offense

Grayson Kline was stumped.

Warwick’s senior quarterback couldn’t recall the last time he’d thrown four touchdown passes in one game.

“Maybe Little League,” he smiled, “but nothing like this.”

Little League was a long way from Garden Spot, where the Warriors’ 6-foot-5 QB went 18-of-26 for 303 yards, and yes, those four TDs last Friday night in a non-league tilt against the Spartans.

That, however, was just the start of the offensive fireworks for the Warriors. Carter Forney had three of those TD receptions — and six total catches for 105 yards — while Nick Fucci ran for 154 yards and two TDs, and Isaac Rissinger (13-87 rushing) and Adam Ricketts each added a score.

In the end, Warwick piled up 625 yards of total offense — countering a Cameron Roth-led Garden Spot team which gained 530 yards — and went on to earn a 69-42 victory in New Holland.

Their first victory of the season evened the Warriors’ record to 1-1 heading into this Friday’s battle final non-league tune-up against back-yard rival Ephrata for the Male Trophy.

“It was our season,” Kline said. “These guys made it into the District playoffs as a five seed at 8-2 last year. I’m thinking 9-1 — I don’t want to lose the rest of the season. If we would have lost tonight, that would have put us at a bad start.”

Roth, a senior quarterback, and the Spartans (0-2) were also looking for their first win, and they had Warwick worried, particularly after taking a 21-20 lead at the end of the first quarter. All Roth did was go 10-of-22 for 188 yards and a TD, in addition to rushing for 143 yards and two scores on 10 carries in the opening two quarters.

Spot’s star QB, though, was sidelined with an injury in the second half and the Warriors were able to pull away, in large part thanks to a pair of INT returns for TDs by Jorden Cruz.

“I hoped that it wouldn’t be that (track meet),” Warwick coach Bob Locker said. “Roth is a special football player and he’s really good. If he plays the second half, I don’t know what it looks like. In two weeks, we’ve given up 35 and 42 points and that’s not a good sign. Tonight, we scored enough to offset that, but it’s not what we want to be.”

The scoring came early and often on Friday night.

Early, as in the first play from scrimmage, when Kline hit sophomore wideout Trey Glass (4-112 receiving) in stride for a 77-yard TD strike. The PAT was blocked, but Warwick took a 6-0 lead.

“We came out, we wanted to hit something short, and they gave us the good coverage,” Kline said. “Locker gives me the freedom and we took care of it. We did what we had to do, strike early and then that set the tone for a slugfest.”

Slugfest, indeed.

It took Spot just four plays to answer, as running back Jeffrey Harley (17-65 rushing, three TDs) scored on a 10-yard run into the left corner of the end zone.

Then Kline (6 carries, 65 yards) showed he has some running skills of his own, barreling for 20 yards for a first-and-goal, setting up Rissinger’s six-yard TD run with 7:01 left in the first quarter. If not for a 55-yard run on fourth-and-3 that was called back due to a penalty, Rissinger also would have passed the century mark. Kline’s two-point pass Forney put Warwick up, 14-7.

The lead didn’t last long, however. Although the Spartans were pinned at their own 10, Roth took matters in his own hands, finding a seam and breaking off a 90-yard scamper, and when Kyle Willwerth added the PAT — one of his six — the score was all knotted up at 14-all.

“I feel like we’ve got a bunch of weapons all over the field,” GS coach Zach Fulmer remarked. “We’ve got a lot of guys that can break big plays and you saw that tonight, Cam being number one, and I thought we were doing that pretty well through the whole first half.”

Following an INT by Spot’s Kellito Westmoreland, Roth was again involved on the Spartans’ next scoring play, connecting over the middle with Jacob Arndt, who scored into the left corner of the endzone on a 28-yard strike, giving Garden Spot its first lead, 21-14.

The breakneck pace continued when Kline found Forney for a 45-yard TD pass with 4:17 still left in the first, cutting the Spartans’ lead to 21-20, which is how remained at period’s end.

“It was long,” Kline said, laughing, about the first quarter. “At that point, I was getting a little nervous, but I have that feeling that my guys can get it done and that the defense would pick it up.”

As a team, Warwick must have been nervous when Roth’s six-yard TD run up the gut with just :24 elapsed in the second quarter put GS up 28-20.

But Fucci was a workhorse on the Warriors’ next drive, carrying the ball three times for 66 yards, including a 42-yard scoring scamper with 10:22 left in the quarter. The two-point pass failed, but Warwick was back within two, 28-26.

The defense then stepped up for the Warriors to hold GS on its final three possessions of the half. In the meantime, Kline hit Forney on a fade for a five-yard TD pass to give Warwick a 34-28 edge with 1:39 left in the half.

“I trust my offensive line,” Kline said. “If they give me a few seconds, they know and my receivers know that when that happens, it’s magic.”

There was more magic on Warwick’s next series, and a Kline-to-Forney nine-yard scoring hook-up, coupled with Rissinger’s run for two, extended their lead to 42-28 going to the locker room.

“If it touches his hands, (Carter)’s going to come down with it,” Locker said. “He runs amazing patterns. He’s just a really, really good high school wide receiver.”

I think the turning point was, toward the end of the first half, we scored and held them and got that last score before we went in at halftime,” Warwick’s coach added. “I thought that was good for our kids because then we were able to go in and speak to the offense about, ‘OK, if these are the adjustments we see in the second half, this is what we’re going to do,’ and we kinda had an idea what we might get. So I thought they did a good job of adjusting.”

Warwick’s coaches also spoke to the D and switched to playing more press coverage, taking away some of the GS receivers’ cushion.

That adjustment paid off with Cruz grabbing a pick six, stepping in front of an aerial from Spot freshman quarterback Jesse Martin and returning it 20 yards to paydirt with just :43 gone in the third.

A roughing the kicker penalty extended Spot’s next possession, and the Spartans capitalized when Harley scored on a six-yard run, cutting the Warriors’ lead to 49-35 with 4:42 left in the quarter. For the game, Warwick had 15 penalties for 149 yards.

“For a sophomore to keep fighting like he did and running as hard as he did, I was proud of the heart I saw from (Harley),” Fulmer said. “He’s going to be a heck of a football player.”

So, too, is Fucci, who capped a five-play, 52-yard scoring drive with a three-yard TD run to make it 55-35 with 2:46 left in the third period.

“Fucci had a nice night,” Locker said. “He made some really good cuts.”

“We felt like we could move the ball — we just needed to get a few stops,” Fulmer said. “That was our Achilles heel tonight.”

Then Cruz added to his nice night, jumping in front of another Martin aerial for his second pick six of the quarter — this one for 27 yards.

“(Cruz’s INTs) were big because that kinda sealed the deal,” Locker said. “Two good reads. I don’t remember the last time we had a pick six to begin with, let alone two in one night, so that’s pretty outstanding.”

Harley’s five-yard TD run — his third of the night — opened the fourth-quarter scoring and then Ricketts rolled left and scored on a 16-yard run with 3:54 left to make it 69-42 and wrap things up.

“I think offensively, we’re doing some things well,” Locker said. “I think the defense will come around. We have many more young kids playing than we thought we would and they’re going to have to grow into it, so we’ll keep at it.”

 

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