Wilson Prevails As Warwick Pushes Bulldogs To The Brink 14-10
George W. Bush in the White House, flip phones, and Myspace. Three things that on the surface look like they have nothing in common. On the contrary if you’re talking about Lancaster Lebanon League football however, they do go together. You see, those things were prevalent in October 2007 which happens to be the last time the Wilson Bulldogs lost a Section 1 regular season contest. In fact, they also posted a perfect Section 1 record in 2006, so over the last decade, the Bulldogs have lost just twice to the same familiar faces they see seven times every year. On Friday night, in Lititz, that winning streak was put in serious jeopardy by the Warwick Warriors.
On Wilson’s first drive, it looked like business as usual. The Dogs marched down the field on their first series fueled by a long pass from Connor Uhrig to Brian Wright for 31 yards down to the Warwick one. This set up freshman Abdul MacFoy’s plunge across the goal line to give Wilson the 7-0 lead taking just two minutes and change off the clock.
Following a Warwick three and out, Wilson began moving again on their second possession, but a holding call on the drive halted their progress. The Bulldogs were forced to punt it away after Hayden Rucci and others stuffed the Wilson 3rd& 5 attempt.
After another Warwick punt, Wilson was threating again, but the Warwick defense would come up big. Carter Forney stepped in front of the Wilson pass on third and three for the interception just outside the red zone to end the Bulldog’s threat. This closed the first quarter with Wilson maintaining a 7-0 lead on the road.
This Warwick drive would eventually stall out as well as a delay of game call whistled against Warwick made a 3rd & 1 turn into a 3rd & 6 which couldn’t be negotiated.
The next Wilson drive would prove to be more fruitful than their previous two. The Bulldogs were able to add another TD to their lead thanks to a key fourth and three conversion to Foday Jalloh that got Wilson down to the Warwick 23. A scramble by Uhrig down to the five after that helped too. Iggy Reynoso capped the drive off by taking it in from five yards out on a toss to boost Wilson’s lead to 14-0.
Wilson was able to get the ball back on the ensuing kickoff which was perfectly placed in no man’s land between the return men and the up backs as Warwick could not cover it quick enough before Wilson pounced on the free ball at the Warwick 35. It looked like this might be the drive that would make it curtains on Warwick’s upset bid. Uhrig hooked up with Justin Weller down to the Warwick 19 following the very long and impromptu onside kick of sorts. Not the case, however, as Wilson was dinged with a delay of game penalty afterwards and an errant snap following the penalty led to a 3rd & 14 play that was stuffed by Nick Coomer and the Warwick defense. Wilson went for it on 4th& 14 but the pass sailed incomplete and the Warwick defense had successfully stepped up to the plate once more to turn Wilson away with nothing.
Fast forward to the waning stages of the first half with Warwick punting it away to Mason McElroy and the Bulldogs. McElroy was able to have a nice return but laundry thrown by the officials for a block in the back brought the ball back to the Wilson 10 yard line with 45 seconds left. Rather than go to half with Warwick in possession of just one timeout, Wilson went for it, but two incompletions on second and third downs led to a Bulldog punt.
The forecast for the rest of the game changed the instant that Jordan Cruz was able to block said punt to set up Warwick at the Wilson one yard line. Ryan Long took it in from there and Warwick ran into the locker room feeling excellent about their chances down just 14-7 at the half.
After the two teams traded punts out of the break, Warwick would have to go 90 yards to tie it up as the Wilson punt was downed at the Warwick ten-yard line. Nick Fucci was able to get Warwick out of the shadows of their goalposts as he carried it out to the 23 yard line. Faced with a third and nine after Fucci’s run, Warwick was able to keep the drive alive as Tyler Trimarchi found Hayden Rucci out to the 34. Warwick then turned up the tempo as Trimarchi ran it out to the 45. A handful of Fucci runs kept the drive moving across midfield. A pass to Patrick Quinn got Warwick to the Wilson 21. The Bulldog defense would bend, but not break on the drive as Nick Johnson and a host of Bulldogs stopped a Warwick third & 8. Warwick then called on senior kicker Will Mobley and he delivered as his kick trimmed the Wilson lead to 14-10 with 1:26 to go in the quarter with the crowd in Lititz juiced with the feeling that they would be witnesses to history on this night.
On the ensuing drive, it appeared that Wilson put an end to those hopes as Brian Wright reversed field nicely and took it to the house or so it appeared. Much to the chagrin of the folks from West Lawn, this play too would fall victim to a penalty called on the Bulldogs. Wilson’s third & 14 pass play later in the drive was tipped and fell harmlessly to the turf which led to Warwick taking over at their own 32 heading into the final quarter following the punt.
Warwick would ultimately have to punt the ball away again, although it did not appear that way as Warwick looked to be going for it on a fourth and three, but a delay of game call on the Warriors forced them to play conservatively and punt it away.
After being called for yet another penalty on the punt return, Wilson set up shop in the shadows of their own goal posts at the Bulldog 10. Tommy O’Brien had nice plays on the drive to move it away from impending disaster and possibly ignite the drive that would put the nail in the coffin. That moment would have to wait as Patrick Quinn picked off the Wilson pass on third & 11 from the Bulldog 48 yard line with 5:20 left to play in the game.
Warwick could not navigate past the Bulldog defense once again as they were forced to punt it away and perhaps their final chances in the process.
Following another flag on the Wilson punt return, the visitors were 90 yards away from pay dirt once again. Warwick brought the blitz, but Wilson had the perfect play call for it as Tommy O’Brien took the screen play all the way down to the Warwick 33 which felt like it would be the straw to break the camel’s back with momentum clearly back on the Wilson sideline, at least momentarily. The Warwick defense would ultimately again stiffen and turn Wilson away as Carter Forney broke up the Wilson fourth and four giving the Warriors one last chance for magic with 1:51 left, 72 yards away.
A Trimarchi pass to Jordan Cruz moved the chains as Warwick moved out to their own 39. Warwick then tried a long pass play that fell incomplete however there was contact. The referee on the scene reached for his flag, however he did not pull it out which made Warwick go all the back from where they came without the aid of a penalty flag. Faced with a fourth and two play at midfield, Isaac Rissinger was able to move the sticks and keep Warwick in business down to the Wilson 37. Warwick tried another long pass, however that too was broken up by the Wilson defense leaving just enough time for one last Warwick heave with four seconds left. That heave would never happen though as the Bulldog defense closed the door getting to the quarterback before the Hail Mary could even be tossed giving Wilson the nail-biting, gray hair-creating, 14-10 victory over Warwick to go 3-1 on the season and extend the elephant in the room Section 1 winning streak to an eye-popping 58 in a row.
In some ways, it may have been possible to see this coming. All things considered, it could be argued that no one has put more of a scare in Wilson over the last handful of years than Warwick, although the Warriors are never tabbed as the preseason darlings to be the team in Section 1 to upset Wilson and snap the aforementioned win streak in any specific year. Case in point, flashback to the last time Wilson made the trek to Lititz to play Warwick in 2014. In a Week 10 game that was played in an eerily-quiet, sleepy atmosphere, Warwick just 2-7 on the season, yielded a 6-2 lead to Wilson heading into the final quarter, before ultimately falling 19-2 courtesy of a back-backing punt block in the final stanza. Additionally in 2007, the same year Wilson last lost a Section 1 game, Warwick also bested the Bulldogs that year in West Lawn no less.
As far as the 2016 contest, this group of Warriors clearly left everything out on the field trying to knock the champ off the throne. “(Warwick) is an improved team. (Trimarchi) is a good quarterback. He scrambles well. He finds receivers on the money. Defensively they were tough. They said you are not going to run the ball up the middle on us,” said Wilson head coach Doug Dahms. As far as his own team and the outlook moving forward, he said, “We are going to get everybody’s best shot. Everyone knows we’re young and inexperienced and we just have to weather the storm until we get better.”
NEXTUP: Wilson will host McCaskey in a battle of traditional Section 1 heavyweights and Warwick will look to rebound as they continue their homestand by hosting Section 1 newcomer Lebanon.
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