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Game of the Week

Wilmington wins PIAA title!

Wilmington (35) vs. West Catholic (34)
Written: Dec 15, 2008
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By JOHN D’ABRUZZO

jdabruzzo@ncnewsonline.com

HERSHEY — It was an all-too familiar situation for the Wilmington High football team.

And that’s exactly what the Greyhounds liked about it.

Facing a game-deciding two-point conversion attempt in double overtime, Wilmington halted Philadelphia West Catholic at the 1-yard line to preserve a 35-34 victory and claim the PIAA Class AA championship Saturday at Hersheypark Stadium.

Similar to the show-stopping goal-line stand against Aliquippa in the semifinals, the ’Hounds’ final defensive effort secured the program’s first state football crown and the first for Lawrence County.

Senior Shane Wagner and junior Derrick Burns stopped West Catholic star quarterback Curtis Drake’s 2-yard attempt when Wagner flew through the air like Superman and snagged his ankle before Burns swooped in and flipped him down at the 1.

“That was unbelievable right there,” said Wilmington coach Terry Verrelli, who captured a state title 20 years after taking the program to the PIAA’s first Class AA final in 1988. “That obviously won the game for us. That was quite an effort.”

THE RUN

So was Wagner’s crucial touchdown in overtime.

After West Catholic’s Raymond “Syrup” Maples scored his second touchdown of the afternoon on a 5-yard run, Wagner put on the show of shows.

Facing fourth-and-16, the senior quarterback rolled toward his left and then scrambled to his right, zigzagging through defenders before reaching the end zone.

“I rolled out and there was nobody open, so I cut from some blocks and cut again with one guy to beat,” Wagner said. “Then I just jumped in. It felt like a million years, I’ll tell you that.”

“I don’t know how he did that,” his cousin and senior receiver Matt Wagner added. “That was incredible. Shane took off. It was a heck of a run.”

Junior kicker Bryce Wilson notched the PAT kick and booted another following a 1-yard touchdown run by Burns at the start of the second overtime.

Maples, who led all scorers with 177 yards on 19 carries, added another score for the Burrs with a 2-yard run. West Catholic (14-2) then opted to go for the win with a run attempt.

“What an effort,” said Verrelli, whose career total reached 233-102-3. “You don’t need an explanation.”

JUST LIKE LAST WEEK

Down 14-0 at the half, the ’Hounds (15-1) scored 14 in the third quarter and added another score in the fourth to tie the game at 21 and force overtime.

“What did it for us was we came out in the second half and we moved the football and got into the end zone, just like against Aliquippa,” Verrelli said. “Offensively, we kept the football and scored while keeping (their offense) off the field.

“They’re just as explosive as Aliquippa.”

Just like they did against the Quips in the state semifinal, the ’Hounds opened the third quarter with a lengthy clock-consuming drive. The 13-play, six-minute effort resulted in a 11-yard touchdown run by Wagner.

Wagner finished the game with 27 yards rushing while throwing for another 74 yards. He completed 5 of 14 attempts with one interception. Defensively, he also picked off Drake late in the first quarter.

Two plays into the Burrs’ next drive, Matt Wagner came up with a key interception that helped set up a 1-yard run by Burns to tie the game at 14. Burns ran for 46 yards on 14 carries.

“That interception turned it around for me,” said Matt Wagner, who is the quarterback’s cousin. “We didn’t play well in the first half; I dropped four passes.

“Then in the second half, we just all stepped up.”

West Catholic went ahead 21-14 when Rob Hollomon scored on a 4-yard run at the start of the fourth quarter. Hollomon finished with 102 yards on 14 carries.

Matt Wagner, however, came up big again, this time a 29-yard reception midway through the fourth quarter. That catch set up a 2-yard run by junior Jake DeMedal.

“Our team’s tough,” said DeMedal, who rushed for 56 yards on 11 tries. “We’re full of heart and we’re a team and it’s why we come through in the clutch.”

Sophomore Sutton Whiting led the ’Hounds’ ground attack with 65 yards on 15 carries.

HAMMERING DOWN

The Burrs had plenty of time and many opportunities to find the end zone one more time.

But Wilmington’s defense made sure that didn’t happen.

The ’Hounds’ “Hammer” stuffed Drake’s fourth-and-1 attempt on the 1 with less than two minutes left in the game.

Drake, a Penn State recruit, rushed for 112 yards on 16 attempts and completed 2 of 6 passes for 62 yards.

Senior Carson Sharbaugh led the defensive unit with 11 tackles and one sack. Matt Wagner, Shane Wagner, Burns and Chad Palladino followed with seven tackles.

“All year, we’ve heard from our coaches that defense wins championships,” said Sharbaugh, who also had two catches for 15 yards. “And that’s what got it done for us.”

West Catholic still outgained Wilmington in total offense, 460-268. The Burrs held a 284-91 advantage in that department at the half.

However, Wilmington made good on 4 of 6 fourth-down conversions, two in the third quarter and one in overtime.

“We peaked at the right time,” Verrelli said. “We started playing together as a real team and that’s the only way we’re going to win.”
GAME SCOREBOARD
Q1 Q2 Q3 Q4 OT SCORE
Wilmington 0 0 14 7 14 35
West Catholic 7 7 0 7 13 34
GAME OF THE WEEK ARCHIVE
One step short 12/3/16 Neshannock season comes to end 11/27/16 The (im)perfect season 11/19/16 WPIAL championship game 11/18/16 New Castle advances to WPIAL Class 4A title game 11/11/16 Neshannock routs Serra Catholic 11/4/16 Neshannock hosts Serra Catholic 11/4/16 Thriller 10/28/16 Union at Shenango 10/28/16 'Canes stumble; playoff berth on line in finale 10/21/16 New Castle hosts Ringgold on Senior Night 10/21/16 Wilmington falls in battle of unbeatens 10/15/16 Wilmington at Hickory 10/13/16 On the defensive 10/8/16 Neshannock hosts Riverside 10/7/16 New Castle struggles in home loss to Mars 9/30/16 New Castle hosts Mars 9/30/16 'Canes hope to even score against Mars 9/30/16 Stayin' alive 9/23/16 Union hosts Western Beaver 9/23/16 Ground assault 9/17/16 Wilmington hosts Sharpsville 9/16/16 Too many mistakes for Laurel 9/10/16 Riverside travels to Laurel 9/9/16 Neshannock routs North Catholic 9/3/16 Canes quipped 8/31/16 A good mix 8/27/16 Black Friday 11/14/15 Wilmington vs. Cambridge Springs 11/13/15 Defense steps up for Lancers 11/7/15 Neshannock vs. Bentworth 11/5/15 No doubt about it 10/31/15 Neshannock vs. Union 10/30/15 Crowning effort 10/24/15 Shenango vs. Riverside 10/23/15 Playoff hopes dashed 10/17/15 Laurel vs. Beaver 10/16/15 A costly brawl 10/10/15 New Castle vs. Central Valley 10/9/15 Inching closer 10/3/15 Union vs. Shenango 10/2/15 'They had us on our heels' 9/26/15 South Side Beaver at Union 9/25/15 Shootout 9/19/15 Neshannock at Riverside 9/18/15 Pivotal 9/13/15 Neshannock, Shenango clash Saturday 9/11/15 Under the weather 9/5/15 New Brighton at Laurel 9/4/15 Heartbreaker 11/15/14 Neshannock vs. Clairton 11/14/14 Weathering the storm 11/8/14 Neshannock vs. Jeannette 11/7/14 Fast and furious 11/1/14 Springdale at Shenango 10/31/14 Opportunity lost 10/25/14 Sharpsville at Wilmington 10/24/14 One for the books 10/18/14 Ellwood City at Laurel 10/17/14 Ground war 10/11/14 Ellwood City at Mohawk 10/10/14 Drenched with happiness 10/4/14 South Side Beaver at Shenango 10/3/14 The perfect storm 9/27/14 Moon at New Castle 9/26/14 Coming up short 9/20/14 West Middlesex at Wilmington 9/19/14 Back in the saddle 9/13/14 Neshannock at Riverside 9/12/14 Tough act to follow 9/6/14 New Brighton at Ellwood City 9/5/14 'We will get better' 8/30/14 West Allegheny vs. New Castle 8/29/14 End of the road 11/16/13 Neshannnock vs. North Catholic 11/15/13 'Sharks in a frenzy' 11/9/13 Lancers advance to WPIAL semifinals 11/9/13 Neshannock vs. Monessen 11/8/13 The best defense 11/2/13 Neshannock vs. Brentwood 11/1/13 'We battled to the end' 10/26/13 New Brighton at Mohawk 10/25/13 Costly blunders 10/19/13 Sto-Rox at Laurel 10/18/13 West Allegheny rallies in fourth to defeat 'Canes 10/12/13 West Allegheny at New Castle 10/11/13 Mohawk wins thriller behind McConahy, Barber 10/5/13 Ellwood City at Mohawk 10/4/13 Spartans ride big second half to win over Union 9/28/13 Laurel at Union 9/27/13 Burkes stars as Lancers escape upset bid 9/21/13 Shenango at Neshannock 9/20/13 So close ... 9/13/13 Neshannock at Sto-Rox 9/12/13 Run to glory 9/7/13 Laurel at Neshannock 9/6/13 Dando, Spartans roll over South Side Beaver 9/5/13 South Side Beaver vs. Laurel 8/30/13 Turnovers spell doom for Wilmington in D-10 title game 11/26/12 Wilmington vs. Hickory 11/24/12 Caught in a 'Bear' trap 11/17/12 Neshannock vs. Clairton in WPIAL Class A semifinals 11/15/12 Neshannock advances 11/10/12 Neshannock vs. Monessen 11/9/12 Neshannock vs. Monessen 11/9/12 Neshannock vs. Monessen 11/8/12 Neshannock advances 11/3/12 Neshannock vs. Jefferson-Morgan 11/2/12 Down and out 10/27/12 New Castle at Hopewell 10/26/12 Pugh paces Wilmington to win over Sharon 10/22/12 Wilmington vs. Sharon 10/19/12 Mohawk falls to Beaver 10/13/12 Beaver vs. Mohawk 10/12/12 ‘We tip our hats to them’ 10/8/12 Neshannock at Rochester 10/5/12 Big-play display for Union 9/29/12 Union vs. Laurel 9/28/12 Lancers rout Shenango for fourth win 9/24/12 Blend of old, new sparks Union win 9/22/12 Union hosts Western Beaver 9/21/12 ’Hounds rise up for win over Hickory 9/15/12 Wilmington vs. Hickory 9/14/12 Milestone victory 9/10/12 New Castle at Riverside 9/7/12 699 and counting 9/1/12 New Castle vs. Central Valley 8/31/12 Turnovers lead to season-ending loss for Wilmington 11/21/11 Wilmington vs. General McLane 11/17/11 End of the dream 11/12/11 Ellwood vs. Greensburg Central 11/11/11 Ellwood advances 11/5/11 Ellwood City vs. Freeport 11/4/11 Mixed reviews 10/29/11 New Castle vs. Blackhawk 10/28/11 Wilmington rolls to Region 3 title 10/22/11 Wilmington vs. Sharon 10/21/11 It's Polka time 10/15/11 Ellwood City vs. Laurel 10/14/11 Aliquippa cruises past Ellwood City 10/8/11 Aliquippa vs. Ellwood City 10/7/11 Wilmington holds on for thrilling win over Hickory 10/1/11 Wilmington vs. Hickory 9/30/11 Union pulls away for win over South Side Beaver 9/24/11 South Side Beaver at Union 9/23/11 Big plays spell doom for New Castle 9/17/11 Central Valley vs. New Castle 9/16/11 Defense delivers for Neshannock 9/10/11 Defense delivers for Neshannock 9/10/11 Neshannock vs. Serra Catholic 9/9/11 New Castle suffers disappointing loss in opener 9/3/11 New Castle vs. Butler 9/2/11 Sharon ends Wilmington’s dominance 11/22/10 ‘Underdog’ Greyhounds move on to a rematch with Sharon 11/15/10 Wilmington vs. North East 11/12/10 Tough lesson 11/6/10 WPIAL Playoffs: Ellwood vs. South Fayette 11/5/10 Wolverines earn playoff berth 10/30/10 Riverside at Ellwood City 10/29/10 'Hounds lose heartbreaker 10/23/10 Wilmington at Sharon 10/22/10 Wolverines outlast Spartans 10/16/10 Laurel at Ellwood City 10/15/10 'Canes fall to Parkway foe Hopewell 10/9/10 New Castle to battle Hopewell 10/8/10 Lancers fall to Western Beaver 10/2/10 Western Beaver at Neshannock 10/1/10 Wolverines fall to Beaver 9/25/10 Beaver at Ellwood City 9/24/10 Shenango runs past South Side 9/20/10 Greyhounds lay hammer down on Greenville 9/11/10 Wilmington vs. Greenville 9/10/10 New Castle comes through 9/4/10 New Castle vs. Butler 9/4/10 Memorable run ends for Wilmington football team 12/14/09 Wilmington vs. Greensburg Catholic 12/11/09 Wilmington survives close call against Forest Hills 12/4/09 Wilmington vs. Forest Hills 12/4/09 Wilmington blanks Sharon 11/28/09 Wilmington vs. Sharon 11/27/09 Laurel season ends with setback 11/21/09 Laurel vs. Clairton in WPIAL semifinals 11/20/09 West Allegheny ends New Castle’s season 11/14/09 New Castle vs. West Allegheny 11/13/09 New Castle holds off Greensburg Salem 11/7/09 New Castle at Greensburg Salem 11/6/09 Wilmington routs Slippery Rock 10/30/09 Slippery Rock at Wilmington 10/30/09 Shenango blanks Union 10/24/09 Shenango at Union 10/23/09 Spartans overwhelm Monaca 10/17/09 Monaca at Laurel 10/16/09 Mohawk outlasts Ellwood City 10/10/09 Mohawk at Ellwood City 10/9/09 Rochester turns back Laurel in battle of unbeatens 10/3/09 Laurel at Rochester 10/2/09 Laurel opportunistic against Neshannock 9/26/09 Neshannock at Laurel 9/25/09 New Castle ends streak against Blackhawk 9/19/09 New Castle hosts Blackhawk 9/18/09 New Castle passes test against Indiana 9/12/09 Indiana at New Castle 9/11/09 Ellwood comes up short against Freedom 9/5/09 Freedom at Ellwood 9/4/09 Wilmington wins PIAA title! 12/15/08 'Hounds headed for Hershey 12/6/08 Wilmington vs. Aliquippa 12/5/08 Wilmington holds off Martinsburg Central 11/29/08 Wilmington edges Slippery Rock for District 10 title 11/24/08 "Down and Out" 11/19/08 New Castle outlasts Indiana in quarterfinals 11/8/08 New Castle vs. Indiana 11/7/08 New Castle vs. Indiana 11/6/08 New Castle routs Franklin Regional 11/1/08 Franklin Regional at New Castle 11/1/08 Laurel wins, but not enough 10/25/08 Shenango at Laurel 10/25/08 New Castle routs Ambridge 10/18/08 Ambridge at New Castle 10/18/08 Rochester blanks Neshannock 10/11/08 Wilmington handles Sharon 10/4/08 South Side Beaver blanks Neshannock 9/27/08 Neshannock vs. South Side Beaver 9/27/08 Neshannock holds off Laurel 9/20/08 Rochester blanks Union 9/13/08 Union-Rochester 9/12/08 Mohawk routs New Brighton 9/6/08 Butler outlasts New Castle 8/30/08
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