Don’t Call It A Comeback. Call It A Championship. Wilson Uses 28-0 Second Half To Win District 3 6A Title
Cumberland Valley and Wilson. Their names are synonymous with success in South Central PA high school football. Both have laid claim to numerous District titles while Cumberland Valley has an additional line on their resume that reads State Champion. Their success has not only been limited to the Friday night lights as well. Several notable alums have gone on to have productive college careers with a select few going on to enjoy lengthy careers for NFL franchises. Make no mistake about it, these are not just good football programs, they are royalty when it comes to District 3 football. On Saturday night at Hersheypark Stadium, it was the Bulldogs of Wilson who would author the latest chapter in this historic postseason rivalry with a 28 point second half barrage to send the Dawgs westward to Altoona for a reservation in the PIAA 6A state semifinals.
From the outset, it was clear that Cumberland Valley had no intentions of deviating from their famed rushing attack as the Eagles began to churn out yards from the moment they got their hands on the football. CV running back Josiah Quigley was the man of the hour for the Eagles on the first series. The senior bounced it outside for a 14 yard pickup to the Eagle 43 to get things rolling. After an Eagle run was stuffed at the line of scrimmage, Quigley carried the mail again and got his squad down to the Wilson 31 yard line. After a nice tackle by Wilson’s Nick Price, Cumberland Valley would have to get past a 3rd & 12 attempt from the Dawg 33. Quigley had the honors on third down attempt, but he was only able to pick up 4 yards which set up 4th & 8 from the 29 yard line. CV broke from tradition on the fourth down call as the Eagles found success, albeit in an unconventional way, as a pass interference call against the Bulldogs moved it down to the 15 yard line giving CV a fresh set of downs. CV’s senior quarterback Ridge Bachman was able to get the Red and White knocking on the door after his scramble put the ball at the Bulldog 5 for a 10 yard pickup. On 3rd & Goal from the 2 yard line, Wilson’s Leo Quigley made first contact with the CV runner to stop him short bringing up a 4th & Goal from the 1. Cumberland Valley was able to convert this fourth down as well, as the initial Eagle march was finished off by Quigley’s 1 yard TD run to cap the 12 play 75 yard drive that stole 6:02 off the first quarter clock.
Wilson too would begin to move it on the ground on their first opportunity as stud junior running back Iggy Reynoso helped get Wilson down to the verge of the redzone, however the Eagle defense would stiffen and ultimately hold Wilson on downs at the 25 yard line to end the first quarter of action.
After a 3rd & 7 pass sailed incomplete on CV’s next drive, Wilson would get the ball back at their own 36 yard line and stuck with the same formula that they had used on the previous drive by giving the bulk of the carries to Reynoso. Reynoso ran the rock across midfield to the Eagle 45 yard line to get the Bulldogs off on the right foot to start the possession. After another Reynoso run that was bounced outside to the CV 35 yard line, Wilson was looking at a repeat of their last series, threatening CV down at their end of the field needing to convert. The Bulldogs would move 6 yards closer, but on 4th & 4 from the CV 29, Charlie Katshir stepped in front of the Wilson pass to collect the interception and stop the Bulldog advance.
With the ball resting at their own 27 yard line following the change of possession, Cumberland Valley took to the air to begin navigating down the field. Jared Plessinger came in under center to begin the next drive and immediately found Katshiropen for a 21 yard pass completion. On 3rd & 7 later in the drive, Plessinger was able to hook up with Katshir yet again to move the sticks just one yard past the line to gain down to the Wilson 38 yard line. The Eagles would pick up 8 more yards on this set of downs before facing a 3rd & 2 attempt from the Wilson 30 that was converted when Josiah Quigley got loose for the long run down to the Bulldog 13 yard line to move the chains. Fittingly, it was Quigley who would put the period on this drive as well as his 1 yard leap over the pile gave Cumberland Valley the 14-0 advantage following an eerily similar drive as their first of the game. This drive lasted 13 plays, going 73 yards in distance, taking 5:44 off the clock, leaving 1:43 still left to play in the first half.
Wilson wouldn’t go quietly into the half as the Bulldogs tried to rally late to at least create some positive vibes to come out to at the start of the second half. It appeared that their plan would work out when Wilson’s junior quarterback Connor Uhrig went up top to senior wideout Brian Wright for the 30 yard play down to the Eagle 5 yard line with time running out in the half. Unfortunately for those that traveled from West Lawn, the field goal try just before the first half buzzer was no good, allowing Cumberland Valley the opportunity to seemingly nurse a 14 point lead throughout the second half given the Eagles’ ability to play keep away with their ball control offense.
As fate would have it, one Wilson football left the field at the conclusion of the first half, while another Wilson team came out of the dressing room to start the final half.
After taking over at their own 22, Uhrig was able to find senior receiver Justin Weller open across the middle for a first down out to the Bulldog 35 yard line. Weller followed that up with a one-handed snag to move the chains again to the Bulldog 46. More success through the air helped usher Wilson down the field on this drive as Uhrig lobbed it up to senior Foday Jalloh for the long gainer down to the CV 17. Uhrig ultimately capped the drive off, not with his arm, but with his legs as the Wilson signal-caller showed great determination to cross the goal line and get Wilson on the board 14-7 with 7:43 to go in the third quarter by way of a 7 yard TD run.
After a Cumberland Valley punt, Wilson took over with great field position starting at their own 44 looking to knot the score up. Their cause was aided by a pass interference call tagged against the Eagles that moved the ball down to the 38 yard line. The Bulldogs were only able to muster 1 yard on first and second down, however 3rd & 9 proved to be no object as Uhrig heaved it up Jalloh yet again, and it proved to be successful yet again as the senior wideout hauled in the 37 yard TD reception which tied it up at 14-14 with 4:35 left to go in the third and momentum clearly on the Wilson sideline.
Following a Cumberland Valley three and out, Wilson would take over in good shape setting up shop at their own 40 yard line. After a pair of Iggy Reynoso runs helped get Wilson down to the CV 20 yard line, a Uhrig pass to Mason McElroy gave Wilson a 1st & Goal from the 9 yard line with the Bulldogs on the verge of completely turning this game on its head. After an offsides call was whistled against Cumberland Valley, Wilson turned to Iggy Reynoso to cash it in which he did to give Wilson the 21-14 lead with just four seconds left to go in the third, wrapping up a 21-0 quarter in favor of the Bulldogs.
Playing with an extra ounce of oomph that was clearly visible, the Wilson defense kept swarming to the football which spelled doom for a possible Cumberland Valley comeback effort.
With CV taking over at their own 18 following the Wilson score, Leo Quigley read his keys and sniffed out the Eagle reverse for a loss of 5 yards really putting CV behind schedule. After a 3rd & 12 pass was completed short of the sticks, Cumberland Valley punted it back to Wilson giving the Bulldogs the chance to put the exclamation mark on the second half turnaround.
After Iggy Reynoso busted off a big gallop down to the CV 36 yard line, it was Reynoso with the 36 yard house call giving the Wilson the suddenly commanding 28-14 lead with just 8:29 left to play.
Cumberland Valley would need two touchdowns. Wilson would need two stops. Who won? The Bulldog defense. Both of the final Cumberland Valley drives would end in interceptions. The first was tallied by Foday Jalloh, while the final was collected by Mason McElroy, two seniors stepping up big to preserve theirfinal seasons.
It may have seemed improbable by the looks of the things at the end of the first half, but Wilson was able to end the game in the Victory formation signifying the conclusion to the first ever District 3 6A title game which saw the neon lights read Wilson 28, Cumberland Valley 14 as the clock hit zero.
So what exactly was the secret recipe behind 28 unanswered points in the second half? According to Wilson head coach Doug Dahms, the answers were already there, it was just a matter of executing. “In the first half we just weren’t finishing,” coach Dahms summed up in the postgame. “We weren’t finishing drives, we weren’t finishing tackles, and we made a couple of mistakes. We just pointed some things out. It was mostly psychological at halftime.”
With Saturday night’s victory, Wilson is now one of only four teams left standing in the 6A classification system. Needless to say, it takes teams with certain characteristics to make this far as the calendar flips to December. Characteristics that coach Dahms sees in this team. “I love these guys,” Dahms said triumphantly. “They believe in themselves, they’re enthusiastic, and they’re emotional. They get after it. As long as we don’t make mistakes, we play pretty good football.”
NEXT UP: Wilson will now make the trek to Altoona’s Mansion Park in the second game of a doubleheader next Saturday night as the Bulldogs take on Western PA powerhouse Pittsburgh Central Catholic with a trip to the state finals on the line. The Vikings who are the defending AAAA state champions and the newly minted WPIAL 6A champions, will be entering Saturday’s contest fresh off an emphatic 62-21 victory over Williamsport, also at Altoona this past week.
Cumberland Valley’s season comes to a close with a 9-4 mark that was not without its share of highlights. The Eagles jolted to a 5-0 start out of the gate which included a dramatic 25-24 victory over rival Central Dauphin. After alternating wins and losses every week following their victory over CD, the Eagles notched two wins back to back to start the District playoffs against Warwick 35-7 and a second victory over Central Dauphin, this one on the road 21-7, leading up to the matchup with Wilson.
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