Turnovers lead to season-ending loss for Wilmington
Wilmington (18) vs. General McLane (21)
Written: Nov 21, 2011
By Joe Sager
New Castle News
SLIPPERY ROCK — The Wilmington High football team beat General McLane in every major statistic Saturday — except in the point column.
Two other categories — a pair of interceptions and a fumble — played a big part in the Greyhounds’ 21-18 loss in the District 10, Class AA semifinal at Slippery Rock University’s Thompson-Mihalik Stadium.
“I think (turnovers were the difference),” Wilmington coach Terry Verrelli said. “We were out of sync a bit offensively. They played hard and that’s all I ask of them — prepare hard and play hard. You don’t like to lose, but you have to accept it and move on. (General McLane has) an excellent team and they did a nice job. They won the game, so you have to give them credit.”
The Lancers (10-2) meet Hickory (10-1), a 35-0 winner over North East, in Saturday’s D-10 title game in their own backyard at Edinboro University.
“We’ve been getting it done all year on offense,” General McLane coach Jim Wells said. “We played a complete game, in terms of everybody contributing, including our offense, defense and special teams.”
The two run-first squads traded big-play punches late in the first quarter. Gunnar Donati struck first for Wilmington (9-2) as he burst through the middle and weaved through the defense for a 53-yard TD run.
However, the Lancers retaliated 20 seconds later. Matt Astorino took a pitch and sprinted 58 yards down the sideline for the equalizer.
Brandon Ryder’s 25-yard field goal into a strong wind put the Greyhounds back on top, 10-7, with 11:55 left in the first half.
Then, disaster struck twice for Wilmington.
The Greyhounds forced a General McLane punt following the field goal. Yet, quarterback Nick Vasko was stripped of the ball while scrambling for yardage on third down and the Lancers recovered at the Wilmington 31. Three plays later, Astorino bolted through the middle for a 27-yard TD scamper and a 14-10 lead with 7:49 left.
The Greyhounds’ ensuing drive lasted just three plays again as the Lancers’ 6-foot-5 defensive end Quinn Thompson jumped at the line of scrimmage and snagged Josh Tekac’s short pass attempt. He sprinted 42 yards for the score and a 21-10 General McLane edge with 6:21 remaining.
“I think, when you start out with any team, you have to get the feel (for what they do). You can practice against it and show them what they do, but it’s not the same as the game,” Verrelli said. “I think they got a feel for it and got up in there a little better in the second half than they did in the first half. (General McLane’s running) hurt us in the first half. That pass that got intercepted was obviously the difference maker, too.”
Wilmington appeared poised to score late in the first half as the Greyhounds drove to the General McLane 26 with little more than a minute to go. However, an offensive pass interference penalty knocked them back and wiped out the charge.
Wilmington had a chance to add more points on the scoreboard with its first drive of the third quarter. The Greyhounds drove to the 8, but Ryder hooked a 25-yard field goal try wide left.
Defensively, Wilmington put the clamps on the Lancers in the second half. The Greyhounds yielded just 45 yards and two first downs. Conversely, Wilmington picked up large chunks of real estate on the ground and dominated the time of possession. Yet, the team struggled in the passing game and couldn’t get back in the end zone until late in the game.
“We weren’t able to stop Wilmington’s offense completely. They are very tough,” Wells said. “Our kids were able to make plays when we needed it. We did a great job on coverage. Our defensive coordinator had an outstanding game plan and our kids executed it.”
The Greyhounds, who owned a 420-189 edge in total yardage, struck with 1:09 remaining. Tekac’s desperation fourth-down heave found Josiah Bloise at the near sideline and he snaked his way into the end zone for a 41-yard TD. Tyler Donati, who racked up 135 yards rushing, bulldozed his way across the line for the 2-point conversion to trim the deficit to 21-18.
However, Wilmington was not able to recover the ensuing onside kick and General McLane ran out the clock.
“We moved the football, but we also have to have the completions. As few as they are, we have to have them. We just didn’t get them, for whatever reason, and that sputters the offense,” Verrelli said. “I thought they played hard. I am not upset with them. They did the best they could.”
GEN. McLANE WILMINGTON
7 First downs 14
210 Yards Rushing 355
21 Yards Lost 9
189 Net Rushing 346
3 Passes Attempted 17
0 Passes Completed 4
0 Passes Intercepted 2
0 Yards Passing 74
189 Total Yards 420
1-0 Fumbles-Lost 1-1
5-34.8 Punts-Average 1-41
1-10 Penalties-Yards 2-20
GENERAL McLANE 7 14 0 0 — 21
WILMINGTON 7 3 0 8 — 18
WILMINGTON — Gunnar Donati, 53-yard run (Harrison Sturm kick).
GENERAL McLANE — Matt Astorino 58-yard run (Kirk Dillen kick).
WILMINGTON — Brandon Ryder, 25-yard field goal.
GENERAL McLANE — Astorino, 27-yard run (Dillen kick).
GENERAL McLANE — Quinn Thompson, 42-yard interception return (Dillen kick).
WILMINGTON — Josiah Bloise, 41-yard pass from Josh Tekac (Tyler Donati run).