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Game of the Week

Wilmington survives close call against Forest Hills

Wilmington (25) vs. Forest Hills (24)
Written: Dec 04, 2009
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By JOE SAGER

ncsports@ncnewsonline.com

INDIANA — Wilmington High continues to win football games.

In the process, the team keeps creating more gray hairs, especially for its coaches and fans.

Wilmington emerged victorious last night in another postseason nail-biter, holding off Forest Hills, 25-24, in a PIAA Class AA quarterfinal game at Indiana University of Pennsylvania’s George P. Miller Stadium.

The win vaults the ’Hounds (13-1) into the PIAA western final for the fourth year in a row. They will meet Greensburg Central Catholic, a 49-12 winner over Bedford, at 1 p.m. Saturday at Slippery Rock University.

“It feels great; it really does. These kids have come together. What a great opportunity it is again. I am excited about that,” said Wilmington coach Terry Verrelli, who guided the ’Hounds to a state championship last year. “They are exciting football games. They are good crowd pleasers, that’s for sure.”

CARDIAC KIDS

That was the case last season when every Wilmington playoff game, from the District 10 title game to the PIAA championship was a thriller. That theme repeated itself last night.

The ’Hounds rallied from an 18-12 deficit to post a 25-18 lead with 10:38 left in the game. They clung to the lead as their defense stalled a pair of Rangers drives. However, Wilmington’s offense was unable to maintain possession.

With 2:38 remaining on the clock, the ’Hounds tried to grind out the win. After a 2-yard rushing loss and Forest Hills stacking the line, quarterback Jake DeMedal’s short flare pass to the near side was tipped and intercepted by Forest Hills defender Jared McCombie. He raced nearly 20 yards before he was hauled down at the Wilmington 13.

“For us, that’s a simple pass,” Verrelli said. “Losing a couple yards, I thought we needed to get more time off that clock and get a first down. Hey, sometimes things don’t work out.”

DECISION TIME

They certainly did — initially — for the Rangers (13-1), the District 6 champs. They needed just three more plays to reach the end zone as quarterback Zack Glessner lofted a 9-yard TD pass to McCombie in the corner of the end zone with 1:15 remaining to cut Wilmington’s lead to 25-24.

Forest Hills called timeout and elected to attempt the go-ahead 2-point conversion. However, Wilmington’s Sutton Whiting swatted away Jeff Meier’s halfback pass in the end zone to thwart the threat.

“We were fighting from behind all night long, and we weren’t playing for the tie,” Forest Hills coach Don Bailey said. “To be honest with you, the players wanted to go for two. I wanted to go for two. We went for two.”

Verrelli was not surprised to see the Rangers attempt to win the game, especially after the roller-coaster playoff run the ’Hounds experienced last year.

“We went through that all last year in the playoffs and championship game,” he said. “The coach, he is with his team all year long. Nobody knows them better than he does. It’s what they wanted to do. I don’t question him on it. If you want to win it right there, then give it a shot. You can always miss a kick, too. We sure missed a few.”

The Rangers attempted an unsuccessful onside kick, and Wilmington kneeled down twice to run out the clock and secure the victory.

UP NEXT

While the win was an exhilarating one on a frigid night, Verrelli was focused on getting the ’Hounds ready to face the Centurions.

“It’s a long year, but I am a one-track person and already thinking about next week. When you are still playing — and we’ve been here before — I am excited, but that’s the way it goes,” he said. “It was a tough game. It was back and forth the whole game. We played well offensively, and we’re starting to play great defense at the end of the year. I think we did (last) night. They are a good power team. They have good running backs, and their quarterback could throw a lot better than I thought.”

RECAP

Forest Hills marched 64 yards for a touchdown on its opening drive for a 7-0 lead. Wilmington responded immediately with a 64-yard TD march of its own. However, Bryce Wilson’s PAT kick sailed wide and left the Rangers with a 7-6 edge.

Pat Donoughe connected for a 32-yard field goal in the second quarter to give Forest Hills a 10-6 lead. It was short-lived, however, as the ’Hounds responded again with a 76-yard TD drive, capped by Whiting’s 1-yard plunge. A bad snap on the PAT kick wiped out the conversion to leave Wilmington with a 12-10 halftime advantage.

Forest Hills scored on its first drive of the second half when Nick Dudukovich rambled into the end zone for a 15-yard TD, his second of the night. Chris Lazration hauled in a 2-point conversion pass from Glessner to give Forest Hills an 18-12 lead.

Once again, the ’Hounds answered — this time with a 67-yard scoring drive, capped by Whiting’s 2-yard run. Wilson’s PAT kick sailed through the uprights for a 19-18 Wilmington lead.

Derrick Burns put the ’Hounds up for good at 1:22 into the fourth quarter on a 1-yard run. However, Wilson’s missed PAT kick left it a 25-18 advantage.

INSIDE THE NUMBERS

Whiting led Wilmington with 77 yards rushing on 15 carries. Burns added 52 yards on 16 totes, while DeMedal had 47 hashes on eight scampers. He completed 9 of 15 aerial attempts for 138 yards on the evening.

Dudukovich had 121 yards on 19 carries for the Rangers.

“They put forth a great effort, and they’ve been giving me that effort all year long,” Bailey said. “This is a good football team we played. Wilmington is the defending state champ and a very good team, and I think we played right there with them.”

WILMINGTON FOREST HILLS

23 First downs 16

207 Yards Rushing 162

6 Yards Lost 18

201 Net Rushing 144

15 Passes Attempted 23

9 Passes Completed 10

1 Passes Intercepted 0

138 Yards Passing 106

339 Total Yards 250

1-0 Fumbles-Lost 0-0

4-33.3 Punts-Average 5-40.2

4-35 Penalties-Yards 3-20

WILMINGTON 6 6 7 6 — 25

FOREST HILLS 7 3 8 6 — 24

Scoring plays

FOREST HILLS — Nick Dudukovich, 4-yard run (Pat Donoughe kick)

WILMINGTON — Sutton Whiting, 4-yard run (kick failed)

FOREST HILLS — Donoughe, 32-yard field goal

WILMINGTON — Whiting, 1-yard run (pass failed)

FOREST HILLS — Dudukovich, 15-yard run (Chris Lazration pass from Zack Glessner)

WILMINGTON — Whiting, 2-yard run (Wilson kick)

WILMINGTON – Derrick Burns, 1-yard run (kick failed)

FOREST HILLS — Jared McCombie, 9-yard pass from Glessner (pass failed)

GAME SCOREBOARD
Q1 Q2 Q3 Q4 OT SCORE
Wilmington 6 6 7 6 0 25
Forest Hills 7 3 8 6 0 24
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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