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Game of the Week

It's Polka time

Ellwood City (7) vs. Laurel (0)
Written: Oct 15, 2011
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By Joe Sager

New Castle Sports

Julian Cox just wanted Nick Polka to get away.

He listened — and kept going.

Polka, a senior, hauled in Cox’s pass and scampered 77 yards for the only touchdown as Ellwood City Lincoln High logged a 7-0 triumph at Laurel in a muddy Midwestern Athletic Conference football clash.

The triumph was an important one for the Wolverines (4-2 conference, 5-2 overall), who are in the driver’s seat for one of the conference’s four WPIAL Class AA playoff berths.

“We needed this to get ready for playoffs,” Polka said. “They’re a good team and we knew we were better, but we just had to prove it.”

The setback darkens the Spartans’ playoff hopes. Laurel (3-3, 3-4) needs to win out and hope for help to make the postseason.

“The players are extremely disappointed. They’ll have to regroup,” Laurel coach Jerry Holzhauser said. “We’ll get them ready for next week. They know that’ll be an even bigger game.”

Both teams prepared well for last night’s fray. However, the week’s rainy conditions left the Spartan Stadium playing surface a mess, with plenty of bare spots as well as a few large puddles.

So, the squads took one step on the field and knew their plans had to change.

“The kids found a way. We had a couple things up our sleeves that we thought we could do. Field conditions dictated it wasn’t going to happen that way,” Ellwood coach Don Phillips said. “With this kind of a night, the ball bounces either way.”

Added Polka, “We didn’t think the field was going to be this bad. We’ve practiced in it all week because our field is just as bad. It was terrible. I didn’t know one play would be the difference.”

It certainly was for the Wolverines. Early in the fourth quarter on a third-and-9 at the Ellwood 23, quarterback Julian Cox rolled out to his right. He motioned and yelled for Polka, his receiver, to move downfield.

Near the sideline, he lofted a pass. Polka jumped and snared the ball.

“When I rolled out, I knew he wasn’t past the (first-down) marker. So I was screaming at him to go,” Cox said. “He ran and made the catch.”

Once he came down with the ball, Polka juked and, as two Spartans slipped in the mud, took off down the sideline for the 77-yard touchdown.

“Everything went out the window once he rolled out. He just threw it up and I caught it,” Polka said. “It was hard running on the field. It was like running in quicksand. When I cut back, everyone just slipped and I had the whole sideline. I was surprised, but it was a great feeling (getting in the end zone).

“I knew all we had to do was stop them and our defense was playing great.”

The Ellwood defense held at the end of the game, but its biggest stop came in the second quarter. A high snap thwarted a Wolverines punt and the Spartans took over at the Ellwood 21. The hosts drove to the 5 and, on fourth down, set up for a 22-yard field goal. However, a Wolverines penalty moved the ball to the 2 and Laurel elected to go for it. Ellwood’s defense stopped Dylan Jones at the 1 with 8:44 left in the half.

“It was awesome,” Phillips said. “That was a great stand.”

That sequence was the Spartans’ best chance to score all night.

“The conditions weren’t ideal for kicking. We knew that. We had two yards to go and we thought we could do it. That’s a credit to Ellwood, though. They brought some extra people at the point of attack and we couldn’t get the ball in the end zone,” Holzhauser said. “Field conditions were bad for both teams. We did move the ball at times. It’s a credit to Ellwood’s defense. They brought a lot of people and that was a smart move on their part. I wish I would have done some things differently. That’s a coaching loss. I hate to put it on the kids. Ultimately, I should have done more.”

Despite the win, the Wolverines need to remain focused to keep pace in the conference.

“This win puts us a leg up on Laurel. We just have to take care of our business,” Phillips said. “We’ll focus on the next one. This is a big step forward that these kids were able to find a way to win in these conditions. Laurel is a quality team.”

Laurel travels to Beaver at 7 p.m. Friday and Ellwood City hosts Beaver Falls at 7:30 p.m. Both games are conference matchups.

(E-mail: ncsports@ncnewsonline.com)

ELLWOOD LAUREL

7 First downs 5

104 Yards Rushing 79

54 Yards Lost 11

50 Net Rushing 68

4 Passes Attempted 5

2 Passes Completed 2

0 Passes Intercepted 0

77 Yards Passing 19

127 Total Yards 87

5-0 Fumbles-Lost 5-0

5-33.7 Punts-Average 5-30.6

3-18 Penalties-Yards 5-35

ELLWOOD 0 0 0 7 — 7

LAUREL 0 0 0 0 — 0

Scoring plays

ELLWOOD CITY — Nick Polka, 77-yard yard pass from Julian Cox (Scott Lewis kick).
GAME SCOREBOARD
Q1 Q2 Q3 Q4 OT SCORE
Ellwood City 0 0 0 7 0 7
Laurel 0 0 0 0 0 0
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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