Dragons fall to Wildcats|
Saturday, September 22, 2012
By Jon Christoff Sports Writer
PURCHASE LINE - Purchase Line's Josh Huey has been one of Progressland's better running backs each of the last two seasons and a big reason why has been his breakaway speed.
There was no catching Huey once he broke through the first wave of Homer-Center defenders on a 64-yard touchdown run late in the first quarter, but the Wildcats' Jared Nealey showed that he, too, had speed to burn.
Nealey ran a fake punt 49 yards for a touchdown just before halftime and opened the third quarter with an electrifying 61-yard kickoff return to set up another score, as Homer-Center moved to 4-0 and dropped the Red Dragons to 0-4 with a 33-6 win on Friday at Purchase Line.
"You can't give the ball away and let other teams make big plays on you," said Purchase Line head coach Brandon Overdorff. "I thought the staff had a great gameplan. They didn't show us anything different than we saw on film. We had defenders there, but we just don't tackle well.
"They're just better athletes than us. We'll keep working to get better, but they were better than us tonight."
The Wildcats capitalized on a Purchase Line fumble on the second play from scrimmage in the contest and later took advantage of a 22-yard punt to move in front, 14-0.
Huey was quick to get his team back within striking distance, however, on his team's first play following the second 1-yard scoring plunge from Homer-Center quarterback Aaron Berezansky.
On his first run earlier in the quarter, Huey was thrown for a 3-yard loss, but showed off his extra gear on a lengthy touchdown that cut the Dragons deficit to 14-6.
The extra point was blocked and that was as close as Purchase Line came in the contest.
Huey finished the night with 16 carries for 114 yards - 107 of which came in the first half.
"He made a great run to get us back in the football game," Overdorff said of Huey. "He's a great back, and we tried to spread the ball around a little bit to take some of the weight off his shoulders. We just made too many mistakes to stay in the football game, and we're not a good enough football team to come back from the mistakes."
The Dragon defense, which saw the guests begin their first two drives at the Purchase Line 25 and 43, respectively, toughened against a Wildcat offense that saw nine different players carry the ball in the first half.
Homer-Center had no problems converting on its first two drives, but Purchase Line made it tough sledding afterward.
With time winding down in the first half, the Wildcats faced a fourth-and-2 from the Dragon 49.
Nealey took a couple of steps to his right on the rugby-style punt and took off around the corner. The Homer-Center senior didn't stop until he hit paydirt and a 20-6 lead for his team at the intermission.
"We called timeout because we thought they might fake it," said Overdorff, "and when I did I think that secured their decision to fake. We told the kids to be aware of No. 5 (Nealey) because he's probably going to run with it, especially since we called the timeout, and we just didn't defend it.
"Once again, we just keep making mistakes. We fumble right off the bat on the first drive. And, when you give up big plays and you don't tackle, you lose. It's just the reality of football. Until we get better, that's the way it's going to be but we'll keep fighting to get better."
Nealey's big return in the third quarter gave the Wildcats another short field to work with for their fourth score of the game.
Homer-Center's longest drive that yielded points encompassed just 57 yards with Berezansky connecting with Duce Peroli on a 14-yard strike midway through the fourth.
The Wildcats ended the game with 310 yards of offense with 225 coming on the ground on 48 totes.
While big plays set up Homer-Center, the Dragons were unable to build on any momentum Huey's run may have gained.
Purchase Line finished the night with 144 yards of total offense with only 26 coming in the second half.
"I'm never going to accept losing," Overdorff said. "It's not in my blood in life or on the football field. There are winners and losers. I want to be a winner and I want them to be winners. Some day we will be.
"Like I told them, everyone in this school district needs to make a commitment to winning as a football team, and I'm not sure we've done that yet.
"To be quite frank, we're not athletic enough to compete right now. We can talk all the philosophy you want to talk, but Homer-Center is a good ballclub. They're well-coached and they beat us."
The Dragons take to the road on Friday when they face Heritage Conference foe Northern Cambria.
EXTRA POINTS: Purchase Line's first four opponents entered the night with an 11-1 record with the only loss coming from a head-to-head meeting between Ligonier Valley and Blairsville. ... Nealey ended the night with 49 yards on the ground and 41 through the air to complement his big returns on kickoffs. ... Grant Syster added 28 yards on 10 carries for Purchase Line. ... Dragon quarterback Alec Sunderlin completed 3 of 11 attempts for 9 yards. ... Homer-Center will travel to Blairsville in search of its fifth win of the season on Friday. ... The teams combined for just 35 penalty yards with Purchase Line being flagged once for 14.
Purchase Line 6
Score By Quarters
Homer-Center 14 6 6 7-33
Purchase Line 6 0 0 0-6
HC-Berezansky 1 run, (McCracken pass from Newhouse), 9:17.
HC-Berezansky 1 run, (pass failed), 2:53.
PL-Huey 64 run, (kick blocked), 2:39.
HC-Nealey 49 run, (kick failed), 1:11.
HC-McAdoo 3 run, (kick blocked), 10:18.
HC-Peroli 14 pass from Berezansky, (Grady kick), 6:37.
Total First Downs 14 6
Rushes-Yards 48-225 29-135
Comp-Att-Int 4-11-0 3-11-0
Passing Yards 85 9
Total Plays-Yards 59-310 40-144
Fumbles-Lost 1-0 1-1
Punts-Avg 3-32.0 5-33.8
Penalties-Yards -21 1-14
Homer-Center-Nealey 4-49, Caruso 5-39, Grozanick 7-38, Lee 10-32, McAdoo 7-30, Berezansky 4-15, Cook 2-8, Newhouse 3-7, Peroli 3-7, Sasala 2-4, McCracken 1-(-4).
Purchase Line-Huey 16-114, G. Syster 10-28, Pierce 3-(-7).
Homer-Center-Berezansky 4-of-11, 85 yds., TD.
Purchase Line-Sunderlin 3-of-11, 9 yds.
Homer-Center-Nealey 2-41, Skultety 1-30, Peroli 1-14.
Purchase Line-Barnett 1-9, G. Syster 2-0.