Hornets end regular season 10-0

MARK NANCE/Sun-Gazette NP-Mansfield's Dylan Wesneski (31) breaks up a pass intended for Wellsboro's Tyler Wright (16) in the second quarter Friday at NP-Mansfield.

BLOSSBURG — He stuck his right foot in the dirt and the defender tackled air. He was dead to rights and reversed fields, picking up an extra 15 yards. He was caught in a mob but kept his legs churning for an extra five yards. Wellsboro quarterback Quinn Henry put on a show Friday evening and not so much with his arm.

The 175-pound senior showed off an array of moves as well as plenty of power, running over 275-pound defensive linemen as he ran for career-highs of 241 yards and five touchdowns, willing the Green Hornets over tough and upset-minded North Penn-Mansfield, 36-7, Friday night at Bob and Marion Jones Memorial Field at Island Park.

With the win, Wellsboro (10-0) clinched an undefeated regular season and the No. 2 seed in Class AA and will host Line Mountain in the opening round of districts while North Penn-Mansfield gets the eighth seed and will head to defending state runner up Southern Columbia.

Henry ran for 127 first-half yards and ran for 114 more in the second half, including three second-half touchdowns. He carried the ball 30 times but never wore down. Despite being one of the lighter players on the field, he churned out tough yards and seemed to never tire. On just his third carry, he went over 1,000 rushing yards on the season to go along with his 1,000 passing yards. Of the 67 Wellsboro offensive plays, Henry was involved in 49 of them. He also accounted for 34 of the 36 points as he had two passing two-point conversions. He also completed 15-of-19 passes for 182 yards.

“People don’t realize how strong he is. He has a nose for the end zone. He’ll go through a brick wall to get to the end zone. He’s a special kid like we’ve talked about before. You saw it tonight,” Wellsboro coach Matt Hildebrand. “He played into the fourth quarter tonight for the first time, all of our guys did and I’m just proud of them. They put together a 10-0 season again. This group of seniors, it’s their second NTL Championship now in their four years. I’m just very happy and I hope we can continue to play football.”

The Green Hornets struggled with a tough Wildcat team early as penalties and red zone woes killed Wellsboro. In the first half, Wellsboro had five trips to the red zone but only scored two touchdowns, the other three strips were turnovers on downs. The Green Hornets moved the ball up and down the field at will but only led 15-7 at half.

“I don’t know what the stats were but it was a frustrating first half. I thought we controlled the game and drove down the field but we shot ourselves in the foot with stupid penalties,” Hildebrand said. “Stuff like alignment and things like that. We’re in Week 10, we can’t have that, especially moving ahead into districts. It was things we could correct and I think we did a better job of that in the second half but there’s not a lot of play calls for 4th and goal from the 35. Moving ahead we have to play better and be smarter.”

After struggling with tackling in the opening two drives, NP-Mansfield did a better job after that. As it held down an explosive Wellsboro offense for the most part, doing a great job on third downs and in the red zone. After falling behind by two scores, the Wildcats made it interesting when Brent Burleigh found Judson Wise on a go-route for a 66-yard touchdown to make it 15-7 midway through the second quarter. But the defense could only hold up for so long as the Wellsboro run game began to wear down the Wildcat defense.

“They got two good, explosive runners there. The quarterback is one of a kind and they make you miss tackles and they did wear us down,” NP-Mansfield coach Tom Dickinson said. “But I was proud of our defense. They hung in there at the end when they (Wellsboro) were still throwing the ball. I don’t understand that but I’ll remember that. But our defense held in and didn’t give up any big plays. But I told them, we’re playing Week 11. Not many teams can say that.”