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Game of the Week

Wolverines outlast Spartans

Ellwood City (14) vs. Laurel (13)
Written: Oct 16, 2010
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Thanks for coming, now see you later.

It was 20 years since Ellwood City Lincoln High last played Laurel on the gridiron. The Wolverines might like to wait another couple of decades before another encounter after escaping Helling Stadium with a crucial 14-13 Midwestern Athletic Conference triumph.

The victory keeps Ellwood City’s playoff hopes alive. The Wolverines (4-2 conference, 5-2 overall) — a season removed from snapping their 31-game losing streak — are fourth in the MAC standings.

“Anytime you win, it’s good. It was very ugly and very lethargic on our part, but there was no doubt it was going to come that way. We felt all week that our kids were not preparing mentally the way they should and, to be honest with you, we stole one,” Ellwood City coach Don Phillips said.

“I don’t care if we steal it or win it outright, it’s a good win. In this conference, you have to get a win if you’re going to stay alive. Right now, every time you beat somebody, they move behind you two games. Now, we have the next biggest game of our season next week down at Beaver Falls.”

The Spartans (2-4, 3-4) saw their hopes of earning one of four postseason spots take a big hit with the defeat.

“Given all the adversity we’ve gone through, I think our kids are coming together. I don’t care when it happens just as long as it happens. I think it did happen (last night),” Laurel coach Jerry Holzhauser said. “They were definitely disappointed, but they realized they left it all out on the field — more than any game this season. I am proud of them.”

A steady rain in the first quarter made Helling Stadium’s chewed-up natural surface even more treacherous. Neither team managed much offense and both squads punted twice.

The hosts broke through in the second quarter. Kyle Crawford pilfered Brandon Ritchie’s errant aerial and returned it 13 yards to the Laurel 30 with 6:30 left on the clock. Four plays later, Crawford went airborne into the end zone to cover the final two yards. Scott Lewis booted the PAT kick for a 7-0 lead.

Silenced in the first half, the Spartans got their running game going in the final two quarters. They embarked on a 51-yard voyage in 10 plays to reach paydirt. Dylan Jones broke into the end zone from the 4. Jonathan Johnson added the PAT kick to knot the score at 7 with 3:19 remaining in the third.

Laurel’s defense stuffed the Wolverines on their next drive. The visitors turned to their ground game once again to take their first lead. Seven rushes resulted in Tyler Fennick’s 12-yard TD tote early in the final stanza.

“We made some adjustments at halftime. We’re not big about screaming at our kids and that sort of thing. We knew our kids were playing hard. It was just a matter of making some adjustments at halftime in blocking schemes and formations,” Holzhauser said. “I thought, up front, we did a nice job in the second half. In the first half, Ellwood played great defense. There were 11 guys up on that line. I should have known better. As a coach, I should have done something earlier.”

However, Johnson’s PAT kick appeared to be partially blocked and sailed wide left. That gave the Spartans just a 13-7 edge.

“I think it might have been the whole idea that the pressure was coming because we were coming. I think maybe that caused them to rush the whole thing,” Phillips said.

The hosts appeared poised to retaliate with a touchdown on the ensuing drive. On the first play, Gino Ceriani found Crawford for a 38-yard, over-the-shoulder catch that gave Ellwood the ball at the Laurel 26. Yet, the Wolverines couldn’t generate a first down and turned the ball over to the Spartans.

Laurel was unable to find much offensive room and punted the ball back to Ellwood. Once again, Ceriani lofted another pigskin dart to Crawford on the march’s first play. This lightning strike went for 40 yards and gave the hosts the pigskin at the Spartans’ 4. Two plays later, Ceriani scrambled into the end zone for the tally.

“I give a ton of credit to Laurel. They fought and battled and played hard. They did things that created some problems for us,” Phillips said. “We knew what they were doing and we talked about it at halftime. It was just a question of us getting after it like we know how. Second half, we came out and did some things. Gino made some great passes and Kyle had some great catches and we were able to get that second touchdown on the board. Fortunately for us, they missed an extra point and that opened the door.”

Lewis drilled the all-important PAT kick to give the Wolverines the 14-13 lead.

“I have emphasized to our kids ever since I have been here — and everywhere I have been — extra points are critical. We work extra points and field goals every day because those are points and it paid off for us,” Phillips said. “Scott Lewis is one of the premiere kickers in the conference, and he put two through and that was the difference, especially the second one.”

Laurel drove to the Ellwood 34 in the final two minutes, but turned the ball over on downs and the hosts held on for the victory.


10 First downs 8

164 Yards Rushing 78

18 Yards Lost 34

146 Net Rushing 44

5 Passes Attempted 11

0 Passes Completed 4

1 Passes Intercepted 0

0 Yards Passing 95

146 Total Yards 139

2-0 Fumbles-Lost 3-1

5-29.2 Punts-Average 5-33.6

5-47 Penalties-Yards 6-80

LAUREL 0 0 7 6 —13

ELLWOOD 0 7 0 7 — 14

Scoring plays

ELLWOOD CITY — Kyle Crawford, 2-yard run (Scott Lewis kick)

LAUREL — Dylan Jones, 4-yard run (Joseph Johnson kick)

LAUREL — Tyler Fennick, 12-yard run (kick failed)

ELLWOOD CITY — Gino Ceriani, 4-yard run (Lewis kick)

Ellwood City 0 7 0 7 0 14
Laurel 0 0 7 6 0 13
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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 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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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