Hornets shut out by Troy on Homecoming
Troy racked up 374 yards of total offense, 308 of which came on the ground, to Wellsboro’s 74 yards en route to the NTL Division 1 win which could ultimately decide this year’s league champion. Troy was very physical up front on both the offensive and defensive lines and shut down leading rusher Senior Levi Mack to only eight yards on the night. Prior to last night, Mack was averaging 10.3 yards a carry.
Wellsboro was able to move the ball on the Trojans defense, and did so on their opening drive. The Hornets put together a 13 play drive that started on their own 24-yard line. Aided by a pass interference penalty and a 45 yard completion to Senior Receiver Kieron Smethers from Senior Quarterback Michael Pietropola, the Hornets marched down to the Troy one-yard line, but were kept out of the end zone on 4th-and-goal.
Troy then took over and mounted a long drive of their own before the Hornet defense held inside the red zone and forced Troy to turn the ball over on downs at the 5-yard line. Wellsboro’s ensuing drive stalled after seven plays and were forced to punt. Troy would not have much success on their next drive as Diante Jones fumlbed the ball away and Smethers returned it for 37 yards setting up Wellsboro at the Troy 47-yard line.
The Hornets would commit their first turnover of the night as Pietropola threw an interception on his last offensive play of the game before exiting on Troy’s following drive with an injury and would not return. The Wellsboro defense held and would get the ball back, but the wheels would begin to fall off for the home team.
“It hurts when you lose your starting quarterback and leader,” said head coach Matt Hildebrand. “It put a different wrinkle in our offense tonight. That’s not why we lost but it definitely played a role.”
After a run for loss by Senior Nick Levindoski and an incomplete pass by Sophomore Brandon Lamphier and a fumble, the Hornets were forced to punt the ball back to Troy, giving them excellent field position. Five short plays later, the Trojans took a 6-0 lead on a 5 yard run by Chance Lantz after the extra point failed with just 54 seconds remaining in the first half.
Troy received the second half kick and went back to work on the ground, putting together an eight play drive the would result in a 23 yard field goal to put Troy up 9-0. From that point on, the Hornets could not move the ball and Troy would score once more to claim the victory with 8:32 remaining in the game as Issac Havens punched the ball into the end zone from two yards out to take a 17-0 lead.
Pietropola was the Hornets’ leading passer on the night, going 2-10 for 55 yards and one interception. Lamphier completed 3 of 6 passes for 7 yards. Smethers caught 4 passes for 52 yards and Senior Dylan Widows caught one pass for 10 yards. Pietropola was the team’s leading rusher with 43 yards on 6 carries.
The loss drops the Hornets from the ranks of the unbeatens, and is the team’s first loss in the regular season since they lost 42-14 to Towanda on October 26, 2012. Now, the Hornets will take to the road to face Bloomsburg.
“It will be an interesting week,” Hildebrand continued. “Our guys haven’t been in the situation of coming off a loss and playing the following week. We can’t put our heads down after losing a game, we need to learn from our mistakes tonight and get better for next week.”
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