Central runs down Cocalico
By: TODD RUTH Review Sports Editor firstname.lastname@example.org, Staff Writer
The odds of Brenden Wagner beating Cocalico’s Spencer Moser in a 40-yard dash may not be good for the Manheim Central junior.
But when Moser broke in the clear with only daylight ahead of him late Friday at Elden Rettew Field, Wagner turned on the jets and ran down the Cocalico speedster, saving what would have been the go-ahead touchdown. Then, a couple plays later, Wagner was one of two Barons to get a hand on Wyatt Dungan’s potential game-winning field goal, which came up short and preserved the 21-20 Manheim Central come-from-behind victory.
"I just pretty much put my head down and ran as fast as I can," Wagner said of his game-saving tackle. "I kept getting closer and closer. (Moser) looked back and I just went up there and got him down."
It was one of several huge plays for the Barons, who overcame a 20-0 hole to notch their third victory in four games and go 1-0 in Section Two play.
"We had a terrible practice last night and came out in the first half and looked like it," Manheim Central Coach Mike Williams said. "But we didn’t give up hope. We kept saying if we can get it to 20-14 at the half we got a shot to get back in it. That’s what we did."
With MC trailing by the six at the half, the Barons held Cocalico on downs deep in Manheim territory, and then marched 70 yards in just four pays to take the lead. A 44-yard run by Justin Greene (10 carries, 73 yards) got Manheim in position. Three plays later, quarterback Caleb Walton, who completed 7 of 14 passes for 94 yards, found a wide-open Taylor Geib for a 24-yard touchdown pass to tie the score. Bryant Myer then added the PAT to give the Barons the lead at 21-20.
It stayed that way until the final minutes when Cocalico took over at it’s own 12-yard line with 5:22 to play. Facing fourth and three from their own 19, the Eagles decided to go for it. And Moser, who rushed for a whopping 201 yards on just 13 carries, broke through the right side of the line and was seemingly home free before Wagner made his beeline to bring down the Cocalico running back at the Baron 14.
"That’s one of the greatest plays in our history," Williams said. "If we don’t track him down, they probably win the game. There are times in games when you can’t explain where guys who run 4.8s run a 4.5. You don’t know how they did it but they did it. Like I said it was one of the greatest plays in our history. There are great plays that win games and I’ll always remember that tackle."
On letting a 20-0 lead get away, Cocalico Coach Dave Gingrich said a lot that led to Manheim’s comeback was self-inflicted.
"We shot ourselves in the foot a bunch," he said. "It comes down to they lacked the discipline early, and we lacked the discipline late, and lack of discipline will kill you. You are up 20-0…we just broke down in a number of areas."
"You got to give their kids credit," Gingrich continued. "Their kids played hard and they could have quit when they were down 20-0, but they came back and you see the score."
It was Cocalico (0-1 section, 1-3 overall) which jump out to a commanding 20-0 lead in the first half, taking advantage of several Baron miscues. After Cocalico recovered a fumble on Manheim’s opening play from scrimmage, Moser took a pitch around the left side for a 17-yard touchdown run with just 52 seconds gone. Then, after the Barons’ Geib fumbled through the endzone for a touchback later in the first quarter, the Eagles marched 80 yards in 10 plays with Moser scoring his second TD on the night with a one-yard run.
Cocalico then made it 20-0 early in the second on a three-yard jaunt by Nick Reitenbach, and it looked as if the rout was on. However, Wyatt Dungan’s extra-point attempt was blocked and Manheim had something on which to build.
"Early on it looked like they were going to run us out of the stadium," Williams said. "Would it be 50 to nothing? That’s what was running through my mind. We are going to be totally embarrassed by one of our biggest rivals."
But the Barons did respond with a pair of scores to make it a six point ballgame by half. Walton went 44 yards on a keeper for the Barons’ first score. Then with 38 second left in the half, Walton found Andrew Seiverling on a 17-yard touchdown pass.
For the second straight week, Cocalico let a lead slip away when victory seemed to be in its grasp. Last week, Governor Mifflin came back and stole a 14-13 victory. This time, it came at the hands of one of it’s biggest rivals.
"We just have to make plays when we have the chances to make plays," Gingrich said. "In any game, usually it comes down to four or five plays. There were four or five situations where we just didn’t make plays when we had to. We have to work on finishing… finishing games, finishing drives, finishing everything."
The Eagles host Lampeter-Strasburg Friday (7 p.m.) in what figures to be another key Section Two matchup. More COCALICO, page B-6