Wellsboro’s Pietropola has big night at Canton after tough week
CANTON – Mike Pietropola mourned most of the week and felt helpless at times.
Last Tuesday, Pietropola’s grandmother Trish passed away. The Wellsboro quarterback attended the funeral Wednesday and the week really was a blur as he struggled coping.
Friday night, Pietropola found peace. Friday, Pietropola gave his grandmother a stirring tribute.
Pietropola threw for 248 yards and four first-half touchdown passes while Wellsboro scored 56 straight points and overpowered Canton, 56-7 in the first night game ever held at Miller A. Moyer Stadium. The junior quarterback completed 6 of 7 passes and led Wellsboro to four straight first-half touchdowns. And somewhere Trish was smiling.
“Football is basically like my sanctuary,” Pietropola said. “Obviously, I played with emotion tonight and it was all for her.”
Wellsboro improved to 4-0 for the first time in the 21st century and mercy-ruled its third opponent. Brandon Owlett caught three passes for 128 yards and two touchdowns while adding a 93-yard kickoff return for a score.
Pietropola’s grandfather drove up from Pittsburgh to watch him play and his grandson did not disappoint. Canton opened the game with a 17-play scoring drive capped by a John Bowman 3-yard touchdown run. A play later, the Wellsboro entertainment began.
That was all the Hornets needed to tie the game as Pietropola threw a beautiful deep ball, hitting Owlett in stride for a 79-yard touchdown. The lights were turned on for the first time at Canton, but Pietropola and his big-time playmakers basically turned them off from there, building a 42-7 halftime lead.
“She (Trish) gave me a lot of power,” said Pietropola, who has thrown 14 touchdown passes and at least three in every game. “My grandfather came here so I had to put on a show.”
The whole team did just that.
Wellsboro’s offense produced 42 points by the third quarter on just 20 plays. The Hornets scored quick and often. Their averaging scoring drive went 55 yards in three plays and just 55 seconds. Five of the six offensive touchdowns lasted two or fewer plays.
“It was hard to prepare for them because they ran so many different things the last three games,” said Dylan Prough, who turned a short pass over the middle into a 63-yard touchdown that made it 35-7. “We came out and made adjustments as we went.”
Four of Pietropola’s six completions went for touchdowns, including a 40-yarder to Jermaine Brooks that put Wellsboro ahead to stay in the first quarter. Offensive linemen Brian Doty, Blake Gamble, Nick Levindoski, Owen Covert and Kyler Widows dominated up front and fullback Wyatt Covert scored on a 52-yard touchdown run.
Throw in Kieron Smethers making a breathtaking one-handed interception in for a 40-yard touchdown and Owlett scoring on a kickoff return and Wellsboro played a near perfect game.
“We really didn’t change that much of our offense,” Owlett said. “We just came out and followed our game plan as receivers.”
Owlett again revealed his big-play ability when he took the opening kickoff 93 yards for a score. He was hemmed in near the 20-yard line but broke a tackle and sent several Canton defenders on a futile chase down the left sideline.
“I was coming in and I saw two guys in front of me and spun and broke one tackle,” said Owlett, who had 254 all-purpose yards. “After that tackle, space opened up and I just went from there.”
Canton was driving for a potential tying score in the second quarter when Smethers made his outstanding play. The junior defensive end batted a screen pass and in the same motion caught it with one-hand before going 40 yards for the touchdown.
Smethers was part of a smothering starting defense, led by Doty, that allowed just 36 yards on Canton’s last 23 plays of the first half.
Not that Wellsboro is satisfied.
“Every week we continue to put in the work,” Pietropola said. “We’re 4-0, but we have to continue to work hard. We’ve won four games, but that’s nothing. Let’s keep moving forward.”