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Pine-Richland comes from behind to defeat Wilson, advances to PIAA AAAA title game

Written by: on Sunday, December 7th, 2014. Follow Staff on Twitter.


billyweek15a2014“We don’t come from behind because we’re usually not behind. Our guys have guts and showed it today,” said Eric Kasperowicz. Trailing 17-7 with only ten minutes remaining in the game, Ben DiNucci led his team to a monumental comeback win throwing for three touchdowns in the fourth quarter to lead his team to a 28-17 win over a very tough Wilson Bulldog team.

The Rams will go on to face St. Joseph’s prep in the AAAA state title game next Saturday night in Hershey. “I just can’t believe it, winning the WPIAL was special for us but man, WE’RE going to HERSHEY!” said the senior quarterback. “I still can’t believe it!”  DiNucci passed for 173 yards, four touchdowns and an interception completing 21 of 39 throws.

Wilson finished their season as the District 3 champions with a 14-1 record. “They made the plays they needed and we failed to capitalize a couple of times when we should have. Hats off to them. They’re a real good team”, said Bulldogs head coach Doug Dahms.

The Rams struck first on a 16-yard touchdown reception from DiNucci to Luke Everett on the game’s second series. Everett would be the first of four different receivers to catch scoring passes for the Rams.

Wilson struggled to move the ball most of the first half and didn’t have a first down until late in the first quarter. But when the Bulldogs stopped Pine-Richland and held them to a missed field goal attempt, the momentum changed. Wilson drove directly down field with only a few minutes remaining in the half. At the 47 second mark, quarterback Jake Templin hit Jake Gehman with a 24-yard TD pass. Gehman made a beautiful catch in the end zone on the play.

Coming out in the second half tied at seven, Wilson took the ball and marched straight to the end zone. Running back Shane Dantzler had been fairly quiet in the first half, but on this drive he found his groove, only it was through the air. Following a 39-yard run straight up the middle to the 41 by Templin, Dantzler found himself all alone on the left side of the line. A simple toss from his quarterback gave him a 25-yard touchdown reception. That drive seemed to fuel the Wilson defense that was already playing a stout game.

The Bulldogs forced PR to a three and out and Jake Klein blocked the punt by Matt Reder. Tim Whitmoyer recovered for the Bulldogs at the Rams’ nine-yard line but the drive stalled and Nick Hart’s field goal attempt went wide. The defense again rose to the occasion forcing another punt but Ben DiNucci fumbled the snap and kicked the ball out of bounds, drawing a penalty. This gave the ball again to the Bulldogs deep in Rams territory. The Rams defense was also ready and held. Nick Hart made the kick to make it 17-7 with two minutes left in the third quarter.

“I knew it was my time to step up. I wasn’t playing my game the first three quarters, but I knew I needed help so we turned to Connor (Slomka). “That’s 225 lbs of power there,” said Kasperowicz. “You keep sending him at the line all game, it’s going to wear them down and that’s our thing. We kept pounding until it started to work.” Slomka started gashing through the Wilson line for big chunks of yardage on the PR next drive. D’ondre Gastion hauled in DiNucci’s second touchdown pass from seven yards out and you could feel the momentum start to swing.

Ram defender John Kohly got a big tackle for loss to force a long fourth down for Wilson. The Rams took over with 5:50 remaining in their season, at their own 39. With a heavy dose of Slomka and DiNucci, PR drove to the Wilson 20. DiNucci found Antonio Battaglia for the go ahead score with 2:24 remaining.

PR would score one more time on a Mike Merhaut touchdown reception with only a minute left.

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2 Responses to “Pine-Richland comes from behind to defeat Wilson, advances to PIAA AAAA title game”

  1. Billy Splain says:

    Red, we noticed the same thing in the booth. Several missed calls…once the PR receivers jersey was stretched from altoona to allentown and it was missed…lol..hey, nobodies perfect but I have noticed the crews calling more penalties in the playoffs

  2. Red/White says:

    I no that their have been speculation in the past about the referees and the calls that they have made in playoff games. I’m not sure but if the East plays the West in each division why not rotate the officials from East to West games or get better qualified individuals.

    I was in attendance at the Wilson – Pine-Richland game and noticed very early on that the officials called the game quite differently than the games previously. It seemed that the calls were not consistent throughout the game. Too much line movement and holding calls missed especially outside the shoulder pads. In one small instance PR fumbled the ball and a Wilson defender attempted to recover the ball but was obstructed by the PR played holding onto his (tearing) jersey until a PR player recovered the ball. Clearly visible by all but no call was made. Throughout the course of the game we noticed 4 possibly 6 missed horse collar calls, way to many in one contest. I wonder in comparison over the last several years the number of penalty’s called. To me for what I see this has increased year over year. It would be interesting to know.

    The PIAA needs to get this right when it comes to officials that calling all playoff games. The quality of officials at this level deserves by right the fairest partial people. Now do not get me wrong I do know that these officials have a difficult situation but regardless the competitors, fans want to see a fairly played game.

    The PIAA is steering towards the NCAA political tactics and that’s the direction the PIAA does not need to go.

    Now please keep in mind that the describe issues previously had no direct bearing on the outcome of the game but it surely would have been more exciting.
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