Wilson holds off the Warriors, 14-7

By on October 17, 2019

Through five of its first seven games, Wilson had scored 42 or more points.

So their offense is a big reason behind the Bulldogs currently holding the No. 2 spot in the District Three 6A power ratings.

On Friday night, however, Warwick’s D held them to just 14 points and forced a couple of turnovers.

“The defense played a great game,” Warrior coach Bob Locker said.

It was a big factor in Warwick still having a shot to pull out the win in the final seconds of the game.

With a first-and-goal from Wilson’s one-yard line with just :29 left, trailing by seven points, the Warriors were, in fact, knocking on the door.

The Bulldogs, though, made a goal line stand and survived for a 14-7 win over Warwick in a battle of Section One contenders at Wilson’s John Gurski Stadium in West Lawn.

“We believe we’re a good football team and we weren’t looking for a moral victory,” Locker said. “We should have beaten them. I’ve got to find a way for us to score more points than one touchdown in a game like that. We went toe-to-toe with them, our defense versus their offense. At times, we did move the ball offensively against a very good football team. It reflects our potential, but we’ve got to be better about turning our potential into points. That’s what we’ll go for this week (at Conestoga Valley).”

The Warriors (3-2 Section One, 6-2 overall) moved the ball from the 50, following an INT by senior linebacker Austin Bufis with 4:48 left, to the Bulldogs’ 11, and then a 10-yard run by Warwick QB Joey McCracken put them on the doorstep.

McCracken then spiked the ball to stop the clock, and Colton Miller (25-74 rushing) was stopped for a one-yard loss on second down, leading to Warwick using its third and final timeout.
Then with :15 remaining, Miller again got the ball, but Bulldog (3-1, 7-1) senior linebacker Anthony Koper shot through a gap and dropped Warwick’s running back for a three-yard loss, and the clock expired before the Warriors could run another play.

Wilson’s Nate Hoekstra (9) drags down Warwick’s Connor Adams (20) after a fake punt during first half action of an L-L section one football game at John Gurski Stadium on the campus of Wilson High School Friday October 11, 2019. Photo by Chris Knight. 

“(The thinking was) that we could get two run plays off in the time that we had left,” Locker said. “And obviously, I was incorrect about that. Hindsight is 20/20. I thought we could get two run plays off. So that’s what we called and I didn’t think we’d need two plays. I thought for sure we would score. It was a yard.”

Warwick was playing from behind for most of the night after the Bulldogs scored on their opening possession in the first quarter. Taking nearly five minutes off the clock, Wilson went ahead 7-0 when QB Kaleb Brown (8-16-2, 60 yards, 2 INTs) found Brady Gibble in the end zone for a 13-yard TD strike and then Jack Wagner added the PAT, capping a nine-play, 60-yard drive.
Meanwhile, with the Bulldogs’ D focused on slowing down a Warwick passing game averaging 256 yards through seven games, the Warriors sputtered out of the gates, going three-and-out on their first two offensive series.

“They committed a lot of people (in pass defense) and they were substituting based on our substitutions,” Locker said. “So when we went to pass sets, they basically were putting three over two on both sides if we were two-by-two. I’m assuming the intent was that they weren’t going to get beat by the pass.”

It was still just a 7-0 game when Conor Adams’ 48-yard punt pinned the Bulldogs at their own 3 with 3:17 left in the opening quarter. But Wilson dug out of the hole and then junior running back Mason Lenart sprung free for a 46-yard TD run with 10:34 to go in the half, extending their lead to 14-0.

Lenart, who also had a 66-yard carry on the final play of the first half, gained 129 of the Bulldogs’ 248 yards on the ground on seven attempts. In all, Wilson had 308 yards of total offense.

“(Lenart) hit a crease and he’s very, very fast,” Locker said.
Later, when a Warrior fake punt was stopped, Wilson took over with excellent field position, but the threat was stymied on Adams’ pick in the end zone with 4:08 remaining in the half.

“We missed that opportunity at the end of the first half to go up 21 and that was a biggie,” said Wilson coach Doug Dahms, who claimed his 152nd career victory Friday night to become the winningest coach in program history.

Still, Warwick’s offense — hampered in part by a couple of dropped passes and eight penalties for 71 yards — struggled to get on track and Tanner Haines’ 52-yard field goal with just :02 left in the half was off the mark.

“We struggled offensively to get in any kind of rhythm,” Locker said. “The penalties were just mental errors. They should be pretty limited at this point in the year. It’s uncharacteristic of us.”

Things started to look up for the Warriors after junior safety Caleb Schmitz stopped Brown on fourth-and-short, giving Warwick the ball at its own 29 with 5:50 left in the third quarter.
“After (Wilson’s) two scores, our defense played a really good football game,” Locker said. “Once they got settled and got their feet, they played very, very well. The defensive scheme was very well thought out by our defensive coaches and it was executed well.”

A pass pattern by Schmitz was then executed well with 2:00 left in the third and his 28-yard TD catch from McCracken (13-of-26, 126 yards) over Wilson DB Eli Rotenberg capped a nine-play, 71-yard drive to get Warwick on the scoreboard. Haines’ PAT cut the Bulldogs’ lead to 14-7.

“Well-thrown ball, well-run pattern and (Caleb) went up and got it,” Locker said. “That’s what our wideouts do. We didn’t have enough of that Friday night.”

They had one more chance when junior linebacker Nate Maher tipped a fourth-down aerial by Brown into the arms of Bufis at the 50 with 4:48 remaining in the ball game.

“The idea,” Dahms said, “is we get the first (down) and then the game is ours. We just didn’t make a good play. (Warwick) made the play.”

“That was a tremendous play,” Locker said, “and it put us in a position to still have a shot at winning the game. It’s a reflection of our kids on defense being tough kids, they play hard, and make plays. So it was a huge opportunity.”
It wasn’t meant to be, however.

“If you limit Wilson to 14 points,” Locker said, “that’s a game we should win.”

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