Big first half lifts Eagles over Bears
By: TODD RUTH Review Sports Editor email@example.com, Staff Writer
For the first 24 minutes Friday, Cocalico, with just three seniors dressed, looked like a typical Eagle team of recent years past.
The Eagles dominated visiting E-town in the first half in workman-like fashion. The running game was going, the defense was opportunistic, and the Eagles made few mistakes in building a commanding 28-7 half-time lead.
The second half, however, was far from perfect. But in the end, the first-half performance was enough to carry the Eagles held to a 31-20 Section Two victory over the winless Bears.
"I thought we played a real good first half," Cocalico coach Dave Gingrich said following the win. "With the exception of a couple breakdowns defensively, I thought we played very well. In the second half, we just weren’t getting a good push and again their kids were playing with some spunk and some energy. Now I’m not making any excuses but we had three seniors dressed tonight. We started two freshmen on the offensive line. I don’t think we know how to play a complete game. And until we figure it out, we are going to be in situations we don’t necessarily need to be in."
"We’ll do some good things over the course of a game. But we’ll also do some things that are uncharacteristic for Cocalico teams. We aren’t playing Cocalico football right now. I’m happy we got a win and that’s two in-a-row. We got a good feeling but I don’t think we really improved this week."
Nick Reitenbach, who rushed for 131 yards on 21 carries, ran for a pair of first-half scores while Spencer Moser and quarterback Brock Gosling added touchdown runs in the second quarter as Cocalico took a commanding lead.
Reitenbach’s first TD run came on a simple play off left tackle as the fullback broke into the clear for a 48-yard score at the 9:38 mark of the first. Then after the Eagle defense forced a Bear punt, Cocalico used play-action off its successful running attack to set them up deep in Bear territory.
Gosling faked to Reitenbach and then hit wideout Kyle Felpel for a 24-yard gain down to the E-town eight-yard line. Two plays later, Reitenbach went in from eight yards out to up the lead to 14-0.
The Bears did respond on their next drive, thanks to a counter-trap play that Cocalico couldn’t stop. On three consecutive plays, the Bears hit runs of 24, 28 and 22 yards to find paydirt. Running back Wes Fornwalt carried on the latter to get the Bears on the scoreboard with 5:39 to go in the first.
But the Cocalico offense continued to churn out yards and points. After Gosling picked off E-town QB Tyler Cottle at the Bear 15, the Eagle quarterback called his own number on a one-yard plunge to make it 21-7 early in the second. Then after an E-town punt, Moser (10-102) needed one play to make it 28-7 heading to the half. The sophomore RB swept around the right side and into the clear for a 57-yard touchdown run with 8:31 to play.
The Bears did score early in the third to cut the deficit to 28-14. On third-and-eight from their own 35, QB Max Daley fired quickly to Kirby Breault in the right flat. The E-town receiver then darted down the left side line for a 65-yard scoring play.
E-town wasn’t finished.
After Cocalico went three-and-out, E-town drove the length of the field in nine plays before Fornwalt took it up the middle for nine yards and a score to cut the Eagle lead to just 28-20.
The extra point was blocked, however, and the Eagles then responded with a 10-play drive that culminated with a 27 yard field goal by kicker Wyatt Dungan early in the fourth to complete the scoring and clinch the victory.
"As I said we played a good first half, and in the second half you got to give credit to them," Gingrich said. "(E-town) came out and played inspired football…They are not a bad football team. I don’t care what their record is. When you are not winning it’s just tough to come out week after week after week after week. I know they have some good athletes over there. They dug in the second half and they out-performed us in the second half. We were fortunate to come out with a win. Our kids are gritty and they are tough but we are doing too many dumb, undisciplined things."
Cocalico, which improved to 2-2 in Section two play (3-4 overall), will need to clean things up this Friday (7 p.m.) when they travel to New Holland to face a Garden Spot team that took section leader Lampeter-Strasburg to the final seconds this past week.
"I anticipate we’ll face a big, physical, fast and very good football team," Gingrich said of the Spartans. "We have to get a lot better but you’ll find out if you had any improvement over the week when you play a team like that." More EAGLES, page B-4