Erie Prep Punches Ticket to Hershey with Hard Fought Win Over Berks Catholic
Written by: Phil Myers
Mistakes are part of football and whoever makes the fewest or can overcome them usually wins. That was the case Friday night in Somerset as both teams committed numerous mistakes, but Erie Cathedral Prep was able to overcome them to outlast Berks Catholic 28-14 in a very hard hitting game. Rambler QB Joe Mischler stated, “We didn’t play our best in the first half, but there was no losing our calm. Everybody stuck together and we pulled one out.” Joe’s dad, head coach Mike Mischler, echoed those thoughts when he said, “We just kept pressing and had to make sure we didn’t panic.”
It also was the depth of the Ramblers that enabled them to come away with the victory. It was a game of mostly hard, clean football with some vicious hits. As a result, warriors from both teams were getting wounded quite often. In the end, Prep was able to plug in some people on the line especially and not seem to be bothered by it. “Our line, offensively and defensively, has a lot of depth. Maybe our twos aren’t quite as good as our ones, but they are right there and they play with a lot of heart,” coach Mischler observed.
Mistakes are probably what did the Berks Catholic Saints in as the game progressed. They had almost as many total yards as Prep (379 to 419) plus had the time of possession advantage by almost ten minutes, but the Saints made vital mistakes at key times that they were not able to surmount. Right off the bat Berks fumbled the snap and Dominick Covatto jumped on it two seconds into the contest giving Prep the ball at the Saint 19. Matt Lupo scored the first of his 2 touchdowns five seconds later when he broke through the line and into the clear to put ECP up 7-0.
The Saints put together a 12 play 79 yard drive to tie the game, which was aided by a roughing the punter penalty that gave them life after it looked like they’d go three and out. Big Marcus Wilson, who led all rushers with 174 yards on 27 carries, accounted for 48 of those yards including the final 15 when he took it to the house with 6:25 still on the first period clock.
Prep threatened on their next possession, but a dropped TD pass and a fourth down run by Mischler that was an inch short of a first down gave Berks the ball back. After forcing a punt, the Ramblers moved the ball to midfield, but again Berks held on 4th down after Erie dropped a sure first down pass a play earlier. Now it was the Saints turn to make two mistakes that completely turned the game around. Berks drove to Prep’s three where they had first and goal, but two plays only them gained them one yard. A penalty on third down cost five yards and the subsequent two yard run put the ball at the five where they missed an easy 22 yard field goal.
The Ramblers took advantage, going 80 yards in 7 plays and scoring the go ahead TD on a ten yard Mischler to Tyler Oedekoven pass. The drive was highlighted by Mischler taking off on a 46 yard run. So with only 2:44 remaining in the half Prep went on top 14-7.
The second mistake occurred two plays thereafter when the Saints fumbled again and Nicholas Pold recovered for the Ramblers. As a result, Prep scored on Lupo’s run a couple plays after Mischler found an open Oedekoven for 38 yards to the Berks one. Cathedral Prep’s tallying those 2 TDs in a minute and twenty seconds near the end of the half gave them what turned out to be the winning margin.
The Ramblers went up 28-7 early in the fourth quarter on a Mischler to Oedekoven 76 yard strike. “We had a couple receivers put a move on them at the line and with play action we thought we could get behind them,” coach Mischler stated. Berks answered with a nice 66 yard scoring drive that found QB Terrance Derr drilling a six yard TD pass to Cooper Lutz to draw the Saints to within two scores at 28-14. Prep followed by using up four minutes on the clock before turning it over on downs. Then Rambler Evan Presta pounced on a Berks fumble with two and a half minutes left. From there Prep ran out the clock and will head to Hershey for a rematch with Imhotep Thursday night. Joe Mischler was all grins when he said, “We’re excited to get to go to Hershey again.”
Game Notes: Mischler was 10 for 20 throwing with 2 TDs and 205 yards. He did throw a pick at the end of the first half on a Hail Mary. Oedekoven caught 7 of those passes for 182 yards and 2 scores. Lupo was Erie’s leading rusher with 87 yards on 15 totes. Prep gave up an uncharacteristic 270 yards on the ground, but they don’t see much of the double wing-T offense and especially not run as efficiently as Berks with a huge offensive line to boot. Coach Mischler said, “they (Berks) played a great game and had a great game plan especially on offense. They got off the ball and blocked pretty well too.” Berks finished the year 12-2, but have many starters back next year. Erie Prep is now 13-0 on the season.
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