Late fumble return for TD ends Wolverines hopes of a late comeback
The Wolverines faithful on the opposing side and the viewers from home were only 3 minutes and 39 seconds away from watching the Ellwood City Wolverines not only pick up their first win on the season, but also their first conference win. Unfortunately, in a game where the Wolverines dominated for 45 minutes, the last 3 minutes were won by the Lancers of Neshannock.
Two late scores coming at 3:39 and 1:49 in the fourth quarter is what it took for the Lancers to turn a 6-0 deficit into a crazy ending 14-6 victory to go to 2-2 (2-1) on the season, whereas the quick 3 minute heartbreaker now sends the Wolverines back home with an 0-4 (0-2) record and still looking for that first win of the 2018 season.
The first half was over as quick as an eye blink where the Wolverines dominated the line of scrimmage and looked like the better team physically, but could not cap off two great drives that ended with turnovers. A 0-0 tie was had at halftime, but the game was completely in the hands of the offensive line for the Wolverines and more importantly the great play by running back by committee Rick Pitrelli and Donavin Chambers.
After out-gaining the Lancers in the first half by over 100 yards, the Wolverines continued their success via the running game where they had a great second half opening drive of 58 yards come up short again on downs. The Lancers could not get anything going in the third quarter as they were held to just 15 yards in the quarter.
The lone score in the quarter and for the Wolverines came at the 2:44 mark where Rick Pitrelli ran in from 5 yards out to cap off an 8 play 38 yard drive to give the Wolverines a lead of 6-0. The PAT by Colin Smith looked good from afar, but unfortunately hit the upright and bounced outward being unsuccessful. So the score remained 6-0 heading to the fourth quarter.
The fourth quarter seemed like it was going to go the way of the Wolverines again as both teams could not cap off drives. It wasn’t until 8:29 mark of quarter 4 where the Lancers established a drive of more than 11 plays in a row as the Lancers started to break through.
The key moment was when 6’6” 245 lb QB Jake McCormick had to scramble to not only get the first down, but also from not getting sacked on a great play by the Wolverine defense. McCormick scrambled out of the pocket, and made the play to gain 15 yards. Three plays later the Lancers used a QB to RB to WR trick play to pick up another crucial third down play for 18 yards to finally break through the wolverines defense. The drive was capped off by WR Anthony Davidio who caught a pass by QB McCormick for the 5 yard touchdown at the 3:39 mark. The PAT was good by Tristan Tuck as the Lancers took their first lead in the game 7-6 with just over 3 minutes left.
After the almost 5 minute drive, the Wolverines faithful had one more chance with 3 minutes left and three timeouts to work with. The Wolverines had no trouble moving the ball all night…until now at the crucial part of the game. Two run attempts in a row spotted the Wolverines to try and convert a long third down play. QB Ryan Gibbons was back to pass, but the coverage was good on the play, forcing him to scramble into what everyone on the field and stands thought was a sack, but the referee kept the whistle in his hands and did not blow the play dead.
The Lancers Gerald Taylor was just at the right time and place to pick up the fumbled ball by Gibbons as three defenders were taking Gibbons down to the ground. Taylor smartly did not give up on the play, picked up the fumble, and scampered 20 yards into the endzone to score the defensive touchdown for the Lancers. After the crazy play, the PAT was good by Tuck as the Lancers held on late in the game to win the game 14-6 over the Wolverines in a crazy, game deciding 3 minutes of the fourth quarter.
The stunned Wolverines faithful will have to wait another week to break through as the Wolverines once again outgained yardage wise their opponent for the third time out of four games, 280 to 155 on this night. The key players for the Wolverines on the night were Rick Pitrelli and Donavin Chambers who combined for 34 carries, 153 yards, and 1 touchdown.
The Wolverines move onto Week 4 in WPIAL 2A MAC play as they will take on 3-1 (2-1) Freedom Bulldogs at home next week (7 PM EST). The Wolverines will be celebrating homecoming, so tune in a little earlier than usual for our broadcast on our website and our social media pages.
Game stat links and updated standings are shown below.