South Western takes charge early vs. William Penn
Confidence is everything in football, and having won three games already this year, the South Western Mustangs just had to find theirs again.
Playing a team yet to taste a victory in 2016, the confidence reappeared early Friday night, as South Western dumped William Penn 28-13 to snap a two-game losing streak.
"Scoring early I think helped, it kind of brought us back to that we can do things well," South Western head coach Damian Poalucci said.
"It definitely lifts us up," running back/cornerback Drew Hartlaub said. "We had a lot of younger guys step up and they really matured tonight."
While a number of underclassmen excelled, it was the old standby Hartlaub who was there when needed.
The senior led the team in yards from scrimmage with 77, scored two touchdowns, and even recovered a teammate's fumble on offense.
In the aftermath of an end zone interception by William Penn's Johnel Barton on the game's first possession, South Western could have fallen back into the abyss of doom.
The Mustangs could have faltered after Khalid Dorsey ran for 11 yards and a first down on the first play for the Bearcats.
"We were a little hesitant after playing Red Lion and Dallastown," Poalucci said. "We're pretty banged up, and have a lot of young backups starting. They need to kind of learn or feel what a game is like. The first interception added to that hesitation, adds to that mindset of 'this can't happen again, woe is me' attitude."
Instead, the defense stiffened, and held the Bearcats to negative-27 yards on the next 9 plays, leading to three punts.
In the interim, Hartlaub sliced his way to a 3-yard touchdown after setting it up with a 20-yard reception of his own.
South Western then stopped a 16-play William Penn drive by forcing a fourth and goal incompletion on a running back-reverse option pass.
It took all of one play for a junior connection to put a charge in the Mustangs.
Quarterback Sean Wolfe back pedaled and dumped a screen to Delunche Shaw in the right flat, where Shaw was cornered.
Instead of going down, he circled around a defender and broke out, racing down the home sideline for a 78-yard touchdown.
A penalty flag fluttered to the ground, setting Mustangs fans' hearts aflutter.
However, the call was roughing the passer on the Bearcats, and the play stood.
Shareef Jakes and Cole Stremmel were part of the group of underclassmen who helped hold the lead on defense. They each recorded a tackle for loss.
SW -- Drew Hartlaub 3 run (Wes Sneeringer kick), 2:35
SW -- Delunche Shaw 78 pass from Sean Wolfe (Sneeringer kick), 2:45
SW -- Hartlaub 13 pass from Wolfe (Sneeringer kick), 8:24
WP -- Khalid Dorsey 62 run (Brandon Vargas kick), 8:05
SW -- Wolfe 1 run (Sneeringer kick), 3:13
WP -- Nigel Williams 80 kickoff return (kick failed), 3:01
Rushing — William Penn, Khalid Dorsey 20-143, Dayjure Stewart 10-35, Robert Rideout 1-7, Marcus Dorsey 5-4, Kahliek Savery 4-0, Tallian Lehr 4-(-17). South Western, Delunche Shaw 9-64, Drew Hartlaub 7-20, Sean Wolfe 4-5, DeSean Crump 3-3, Teian Moore 1-2, Thaddeus Davis 7-2, team 2-(-2).
Passing — William Penn, Lehr 4-12-0-66, Savery 0-1-0-0. South Western, Wolfe 6-10-1-133.
Receiving — William Penn, K. Dorsey 3-32, Rideout 1-34. South Western, Hartlaub 4-57, Shaw 2-76.