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Game of the Week

’Hounds rise up for win over Hickory

Wilmington (35) vs. Hickory (28)
Written: Sep 15, 2012
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By Ron Poniewasz Jr.

New Castle News

The Wilmington High football program is alive and well.

And apparently not going away in the District 10, Region 3-AA race.

A loss last week to Grove City in region play put an even bigger emphasis for a victory last night for the Greyhounds against Hickory.

Tyler Donati rolled up 203 rushing yards on 27 carries and two touchdowns to lift Wilmington to a 35-28 region home win over the Hornets. The rushing yards and attempts both are career highs for Donati, a 5-foot-10, 201-pound fullback/inside linebacker.

A loss could have been damaging to Wilmington’s playoff hopes even though it’s still early in the year.

“It’s a major victory for us,” Greyhounds coach Terry Verrelli said. “It gives us the confidence that we can be an excellent football team. It’s a big win, no doubt.”

Last year, Wilmington (1-1 region, 2-1 overall) hung on for a 28-27 win in the regular season over the Hornets. Hickory (1-1, 2-1) eventually won the District 10, Class AA title last year.

The Eagles (2-0, 3-0), who topped Reynolds last night in region action, sit alone in first place in the league standings.

“This is one of the biggest games of the season,” Donati said. “I knew from last year Hickory was going to be good and this was one we had to win.

“We’re going to see other good teams. We have to keep getting better and working hard.”

Injuries suffered last week against Grove City kept Greyhounds running backs Josiah Bloise and Nic Pugh out of action. That provided Donati an even bigger role in the offensive game plan. He came into the game with 33 carries and 270 yards this season.

“I thought I ran quite good, but I have to give all the props to my line,” Donati said. “They did a hell of a job. They worked hard for me and that’s what the team is, we work for each other.

“I had a pretty good idea I would get more carries because our other two running backs got hurt last week.”

Donati wasn’t alone in the offensive production. Alex Patton chipped in with 116 rushing yards on 20 attempts and Jacob Sotter added 60 yards on 15 totes. Both were filling in for Bloise and Pugh.

“Our two backs that filled in for our starters, I couldn’t be more proud of those guys to step in there,” Verrelli said. “Things looked a little slim when you lose a couple of starters. But they came through and I’m proud of them.

“Both Josiah and Nic wanted to play. They were both right at the edge of being able to play, but I decided to keep them out.”

The Greyhounds executed 72 offensive plays, 67 of which were rushing attempts.

“We just did what Wilmington does best, we pounded the ball up the middle like we planned to do,” Donati said. “Our line just did outstanding.”

It didn’t appear that Wilmington’s ground game would get the opportunity to be utilized nearly as much as it was, though. Hickory’s DeShawn Coleman took a screen pass on the team’s second offensive play 63 yards for a score and the extra point by Jordan Wombacker made it 7-0 with 8:45 left in the opening quarter.

Patton raced 33 yards for a score with 5:15 to play in the opening frame to tie at 7 after Slavi Pontius’ conversion boot.

But Coleman reached the end zone again in the first quarter, this time on a 56-yard run and a 14-7 advantage.

“Big plays are what they live on,” Verrelli said.

Donati’s 3-yard run and Patton’s 7-yard scamper propelled Wilmington to a 21-14 halftime bulge.

“Having the lead at halftime meant nothing to me,” Verrelli said. “You have a whole second half to play. You have to kick off to them. They have a breakaway threat with Coleman.

“It meant nothing if you don’t win the game. One touchdown isn’t much against a team like that.”

But capturing the lead helped the Greyhounds limit Coleman’s value. Coleman, a West Virginia University recruit, recorded 68 rushing yards. But he had just four carries for eight yards in the second half.

“I think what really helped us defensively was we got them into their passing game,” Verrelli said. “Any time they aren’t handing it to Coleman is a plus for us.

“Offensively, we moved the football. That’s the only way you’re going to beat a good offensive football team like Hickory is keeping their offense on the sideline. We did a great job.”

Said Donati, “It gave us a better feeling, like you were on top and you had a better control of the game. With a player like Coleman in the game though, you always know something can happen. He can make a play.”

The Greyhounds scored two straight touchdowns in the third quarter after the Hornets tied it at 21 and they weren’t seriously threatened the rest of the way.

(Email: rponiewasz


6 First downs 21

74 Yards Rushing 380

11 Yards Lost 9

63 Net Rushing 371

20 Passes Attempted 5

8 Passes Completed 1

2 Passes Intercepted 0

153 Yards Passing 19

216 Total Yards 390

1-1 Fumbles-Lost 4-1

2-35.5 Punts-Average 3-14.3

2-15 Penalties-Yards 4-16

HICKORY 14 0 7 7 — 28

WILMINGTON 7 14 14 0 — 35

Scoring plays

HICKORY — DeShawn Coleman, 63-yard pass from Michael Nardone (Jordan Wombacker kick).

WILMINGTON — Alex Patton, 33-yard run (Slavi Pontius kick).

HICKORY — Coleman, 56-yard run (Wombacker kick).

WILMINGTON — Tyler Donati, 3-yard run (Pontius kick).

WILMINGTON — Patton, 7-yard run (Pontius kick).

HICKORY — Davon Tindall, 27-yard pass from Nardone (Wombacker kick).

WILMINGTON — Cody Llewellyn, 1-yard run (Pontius kick).

WILMINGTON — Donati, 2-yard run (Pontius kick).

HICKORY — Coleman, 41-yard fumble return (Wombacker kick).
Wilmington 7 14 14 0 0 35
Hickory 14 0 7 7 0 28
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