Hornets’ O-line paves way in victory
WELLSBORO — Locating Tyler Hancock following Saturday afternoon’s game was not difficult. The senior two-way starter was the one holding the large Wellsboro team flag.
It sure felt appropriate. Offensive linemen often toil in anonymity, but Hancock and his fellow linemen were easy to spot all day. Hancock, Carson Davis, Danny Timmons, Andrew Larson and Keegan Clemens were the ones overpowering Wyalusing, opening gaping holes and helping Wellsboro run for 507 yards. The linemen dominated, Darryn Callahan ran for a career-high 125 yards and Logan Henry added 91 more as Wellsboro routed Wyalusing, 48-14.
The Hornets (8-1) won their seventh straight game and scored touchdowns on all five second-half possessions. Those who often go unnoticed led the way and put on a blocking clinic.
“As a unit I’d like to think the second half was one of our best performances of the year. We stepped up in the second half and put some points on the board,” Hancock said. “We don’t care who runs the ball as long as they run hard. We’re going to block the best we can every time.”
Those linemen did that all game and Wellsboro averaged 8.9 yards per carry. Eleven Wellsboro players ran the ball, showcasing speed and power. It sure helped having gigantic holes in front of them. Wellsboro produced 20 runs that covered at least 10 yards and six players gained more than 30 yards. Henry, Callahan, Alex Burrell and freshmen Conner Adams all scored two touchdowns.
What made this performance especially impressive is that it mostly came without District 4’s leading rusher Aidan Hauser, who suffered a foot injury late in the first quarter after running for 56 yards on six carries. Hauser likely will play again Friday against North Penn-Mansfield and might have been able to continue yesterday, but the coaches were not going to risk anything. That made perfect sense since the line was blasting defenders off the line of scrimmage.
“We have some really good running backs and guys behind Hauser and the way our offensive line is playing you can get a lot of different guys back there and get yards,” Wellsboro coach Matt Hildebrand said. “I’m really happy with how our line has come together this year. We have a lot of seniors and coming into the year they didn’t have a lot of time together, but they really jell and they communicate well. That’s the biggest key for us up front.”
“We’re a unit,” Hancock said. “We’re a family so we’re going to do our best to play like one.”
Wellsboro moved the ball throughout the first half, but hurt itself more than anything. Wyalusing intercepted four passes and Jacob Bryun had three. The Hornets also had seven penalties for 75 first-half yards, but 1-yard touchdown runs by Henry and Burrell had them up, 14-6.
Rare is it a team can lose four turnovers and rack up 75 penalty yards and be winning, so once Wellsboro eliminated those mistakes in the second half it became unstoppable. An offense that is averaging 446 yards per came scored at will with Callahan capping two straight third-quarter drives with touchdowns and Isaac Keane’s 12-yard touchdown pass to Burell giving Wellsboro 21 third-quarter points. Callahan made one of the year’s most electrifying touchdown runs on a 36-yard dash in which he broke tackles, faked out defenders, weaved in and out through a broken field and dove from a few yards out before extending the ball just inside the right pylon.
“We didn’t know what to expect going into the locker room. We thought we were going to get yelled at, but we settled down,” Hancock said. “It was hard keeping our heads up, but we did it and we fought through and we came out with a win.”
“Moving ahead it shows we’re not a one-man show with Hauser. We have a lot of different guys we can go to,” Hildebrand said. “Having more than one guy to go to is going to be key for us going forward. We have a strong run game to fall back on when the weather gets cold and possibly nasty and that’s key going toward the playoffs.”
Wellsboro also has a stout defense that allowed minus-3 rushing yards. The starters allowed just one touchdown and consistently harassed quarterback Mitchell Burke into hurried throws. Wellsboro forced seven punts, stopped a fake punt on another series and limited Wyalusing to 10 yards on its first five second-half possessions.
Yesterday’s victory gave Wellsboro its seventh straight season with at least eight wins. The Hornets will have one more home game when they host a District 4 Class AA quarterfinal in two weeks. It has been quite a run this year for a young team that lost a lot of quality starters from last year’s eight-win group. It also is surging at the right time and building on the team’s tradition.
“We’ve had some good teams here before, but with this team being young, we’ve seen the most growth, more than any I’ve ever had as a coach,” Hildebrand said. “That’s really rewarding because we’re definitely not the same team that we were when we lost to Troy in Week 2. The growth is really good to see and is good for the future as well.”
Wellsboro 48, Wyalusing 14
Wyalusing 0 6 0 8–14
Wellsboro 0 14 21 13–48
We–Logan Henry 1 run (Zach Singer kick), 11:57
We–Alex Burrell 1 run (Singer kick), 7:58
Wy–Shane Fuhrey 74 pass from Mitchell Burke (pass failed), 7:38
We–Darryn Callahan 3 run (Singer kick), 9:54
We–Callahan 36 run (Singer kick), 6:14
We–Burrell 12 pass from Isaac Keane (Jack Poirier kick), 1:14
We–Conner Adams 10 run (Poirier kick), 9:12
Wy–Kashawn Cameron 84 pass from Burke (Burke run), 7:42
We–Adams 9 run (kick failed), :23.1
First Downs 7 28
Rushes-yards 16-(-3) 57-507
Passing yards 228 67
Total yards 225 574
Comp-Att-Int 12-27-0 3-11-4
Fumbles-lost 1-0 2-0
Penalties-yards 9-69 13-120
RUSHING: Wyalusing, Brian Arnold 5-12; Isaiah Way 1-7; Alex Mosier 1-1; Kashawn Cameron 1-(-7), Mitchell Burke 8-(-16). Wellsboro, Darryn Callahan 10-125, 2 TDs; Logan Henry 10-91, TD; Aidan Hauser 6-56; Silas Wagaman 4-52; Conner Adams 5-47, 2 TDs; Alex Burrell 2-36, TD; Nick Smith 9-29; Kanan Keck 5-27; Will Kibler 1-16; Conner Burrell 1-16; Issac Keane 3-12.
PASSING: Wyalusing, Burke 12-27-0, 228 yards, 2 TDs. Wellsboro, Keane 3-11-4, 67 yards, TD.
RECEIVING: Wyalusing, Cameron 3-108, TD; Shane Fuhrey 3-95, TD; Way 4-20; Blake Morningstar 1-5; Arnold 1-0.
INTERCEPTIONS: Wyalusing, Jacob Bryun (3), Thomas Tollaksen.
SACKS: Wellsboro, Clayton Orsborn.
RECORDS: Wellsboro 8-1. Wyalusing 2-7.