H.S. FOOTBALL: East Pennsboro holds off Waynesboro in turnover-filled showdown
WAYNESBORO >> When Waynesboro's football team hosted East Pennsboro on Friday night, expectations of a showdown were soaring.
It was the first time the teams met since sharing the Mid Penn Colonial Division crown a year ago.
And although the game was close, it wasn't exactly the crisp, clean game people were expecting. Both teams struggled with turnovers, combining for a staggering 10, but the Panthers overcame their mistakes and held off Waynesboro for a 43-35 victory.
"These were two obviously explosive teams, and it came down to the amount of turnovers," EP coach Todd Stuter said. "It kind of seemed like it would be whoever made the last mistake."
While it was fumbles that troubled East Penn (6-1, 4-0 MPC), the Indians had a tough time through the air. Waynesboro (3-4, 0-3 MPC) was picked off fives times, four of which led directly to Panther touchdowns.
When Nic Nugent picked off his third ball of the night, it took only four more plays before Onasis Neely ran straight up the gut for a 12-yard score. The touchdown put the Panthers up 43-27 with just 2:30 remaining.
But Waynesboro went down swinging. The Indians, who nearly stunned Shippensburg with a hook and ladder play last week, tried the play again. This time, it worked.
Quarterback Brady Riddell made a quick 20-yard pass to Matt Peck, who pitched it to Jake Wertz. Wertz took it to the house for a 33-yard score, but East Pennsboro recovered the onside kick and iced the victory.
"We're just real inconsistent right now," Indian coach Steve Myers said. "We made a lot of good plays tonight, and we made a lot of really not good plays tonight. The last three games, we've given up touchdowns right at the end. We're finding ways to lose instead of finding ways to win."
Stuter said, "We've been in a game like this. Down at Greencastle, it came down to the wire. But we're resilient and didn't panic. Once we recovered the onside kick, we just took care of business down field."
Waynesboro had its chances. The Indians got a huge spark from Charlie Patterson right out of the halftime gate. Trailing 20-16, Patterson took the second-half kickoff 69 yards for a touchdown and Waynesboro's only lead of the night. But East Penn scored the next three touchdowns.
A big factor in the defeat for the Indians was their passing struggles. But it wasn't like they had a lot of options. The Panthers were very strong on run defense, allowing just 48 total rushing yards.
But after Riddell had an extremely strong first half, during which he went 6-for-9 for 108 yards and no interceptions, he was relied on much more in the second half, and East Pennsboro's defense proved too strong.
"We watched them on film, and we knew they threw the ball around a lot," Nugent said. "We saw that opportunity (for interceptions). Our coaches put us in the situations where we know they're gonna throw the ball, and I just happened to be in the right place three times tonight."
East Pennsboro also did not have the same rushing struggles. The Panthers finished with 280 yards on the ground. Onasis Neely finished with 158, and Kyron Dennis had 99 yards.
"They're real tough on offense, especially," Myers said. "Our game plan was to take away those two guys, and we did a decent job of that, but it wasn't quite good enough. We're close right now, but we're just not quite there."
East Pennsboro 43
EP — Onasis Neely 37 run (Noah Wilk kick), 8:59
EP — Zach Wertz 16 pass from Kyle Purnell (Wilk kick), 4:59
Way — Cameron Keck 47 pass from Brady Riddell (George Souders kick), 2:57
Way — Matt Peck 15 pass from Riddell (kick failed), 5:19
EP — Safety, intentional grounding in end zone, 0:59.1
Way — Charlie Patterson 69 kickoff return (Souders kick), 11:50
EP — Zach Mong 17 interception return (Wilk kick), 8:58
EP — Wertz 25 pass from Purnell (Wilk kick), 10:44
EP — Kyron Dennis 11 run (Wilk kick), 9:04
Way — Dylan Cummins 22 fumble return (Souders kick), 7:06
EP — Neely 12 run (kick failed), 2:30
Way — Jake Wertz 33 run (Riddell run), 2:16
EPWayFirst downs1612Rushes-yards50-28023-48Passing7-14-111-28-5Passing yards95224Total yards375272Punts6-31.83-24Fumbles-lost6-32-1Penalties-yards3-234-35
Rushing — EP, Neely 19-158, Dennis 24-99, Purnell 5-28, Team 2-(-5). Way, Riddell 8-29, J.Wertz 10-15, Aiden Smith 5-4.
Passing — EP, Purnell 7-14-95-2. Way, Riddell 11-28-224-5.
Receiving — EP, Z.Wertz 3-70, Matt Dunkleberger 2-17, Dennis 1-0, Neely 1-(-2). Way, Peck 5-66, J.Wertz 2-53, Charlie Patterson 2-48, Keck 1-47, Smith 1-10.
Interceptions — EP, Nik Nugent 3, Mong, Purnell. Way, Ogo Akamelu.