Hauser runs for 180 yards and 3 TDs in victory

WELLSBORO — Isaac Keane faked the handoff to Robert Brown, and waited for his running back to make the block. Brown met another running back/linebacker in the hole in Hughesville’s Colton Yocum, who was the first of his teammates to get into the backfield.

The two met head on and both fell to the ground. Meanwhile Keane was jumping over the pile for the two-yard, go-ahead score early in the third quarter. Each team’s kicking squad was already on for the extra point before the two players rose to their feet. There was a look of mutual respect and the two limped their separate ways.

Plays like this all night drew grimaced “oohs” from the crowd as each team tried to set a physical tone. Hughesville did its best to knock the Green Hornets down all night, they just couldn’t knock down Aidan Hauser enough.

Hauser ran for 180 yards and three touchdowns and Wellsboro was up for the challenge against a physical and resilient Spartans squad in its 28-7 win Friday night.

Hauser ran for 130 yards after halftime, scored two late touchdowns and Wellsboro had to use another strong second half to pull away from an upset-minded Hughesville team that is still searching for its first win.

“It was pretty smash mouth inside of the tackles for most of the night,” Wellsboro coach Matt Hildebrand said. “That’s kind of what their game is and we had to be able to meet it. Once again, I liked how we responded in the second half. We were way more physical and smarter football players.”

It took everything Hauser and Wellsboro had for it to hold off the Spartans. The junior running back put up 71 yards on seven carries a drive that was capped by his four-yard run to make it 21-7. That game-clinching touchdown came immediately after Hughesville put together an impressive drive that saw it stop Wellsboro on fourth down at midfield on a fake punt. Jase Wright followed with a seven-yard run on 4th and 2 to get the ball down to the Wellsboro 40 with eight minutes remaining. The Spartans, though, stalled at the 25 and failed to convert the 4th down. Wellsboro took a two-touchdown lead eight plays later.

“I’ll do anything for my teammates,” Hauser said. “They work their (butts) off to block for me and I need to get into the end zone for them.”

“We told him, ‘You’re going to be our workhorse and you just got to grind it out.’ I think he got the wind knocked out of him but he sucked it up and we kept him in there because we needed him get three more yards and he ended up in the end zone. He’s a special kid,” Hildebrand said of Hauser. “He has a second gear that nobody else really has and he’s real elusive with the ball. I’m happy with him obviously and what he can give us.”

After a scoreless first quarter with just four total first downs, Wellsboro struck first with Hauser’s 27 yard run, five plays after Hughesville fumbled away a promising drive at midfield. Four straight three-and-outs later, Hughesville put together a very impressive drive that saw it gain all 56 yards on the ground with big runs after contact, finished off by Yocum’s one-yard run in the final minute of the half to tie the game.

After another sluggish first half for Wellsboro in which it had seven penalties for 45 yards, three dropped passes and no complete passes, it had to make sure it came out better or its undefeated run would be over against a very physical and tough Hughesville team. Wright (70 total yards, 10 tackles) and Yocum (86 yards, touchdown) set the tone all night and if not for Hauser’s heroics, Hughesville might have been driving down Route 15 with a win.

“We’re kind of struggling to focus in the first half. We continue to shoot ourselves in the foot with penalties and offside penalties this week, those things really get you as a coach because they’re easily controllable,” Hildebrand said. “It’s just a lack of mental focus. We have to come out ready to play because that’s going to catch up with us. There’s something to say about being a second-half team, I rather be a second-half team than a no-half team but moving ahead, we gotta change that and come out with a little more urgency and put the ball in the end zone.”