Eagles roll past Reading
TODD RUTH Sports Editor firstname.lastname@example.org
, Staff Writer
Not that he ever doubted his players, but Cocalico Coach Dave Gingrich was a little uneasy heading into Friday night’s non-league match-up at home vs. Reading.
Facing a school the size of Reading, not too mention the amount of quality athletes the Red Knights can throw at you, and Gingrich was definitely feeling a bit jittery prior to Friday’s contest.
Well, 48-minutes later, Gingrich was breathing a lot easier following a second-straight impressive outing from his troops. The Eagles, who easily handled Daniel Boone, 49-14 in Week One, passed this latest test with flying colors as well.
Cocalico scored on four of its six first-half drives to take a big 30-0 half-time lead. Then two quick touchdowns early in the third quarter invoked the Mercy Rule as the Eagles pulled into the finish line with a very impressive 44-6 victory over the visiting Red Knights.
Spencer Moser (3 carries for 51 yards) scored on two of his three touches in the first half on touchdown runs of six and 42 yards. Senior quarterback Jhett Janis also scored twice in the first half, scrambling for a 24-yard score and later adding a one-yard TD run. Those two then hooked up on the first play of the third quarter when Janis (3-6-0, 107 yards) hit a streaking Moser in stride for a 70-yard scoring strike to put this one firmly in the Eagles’ grasp.
"Coach (Dave Gingrich) was a little nervous going into the game, and I think we all were because they were a good team," Moser said. "They have athletes all across the board. We just played our game. We can only control that, and that’s what we did."
Despite the lopsided score, Gingrich said his team passed a difficult test.
"I know the score says 44-6 but tested athletically…we were," he said. " They are athletic and physical and fast. I just thought we played pretty good disciplined football."
After going three-and-out on their first drive, the Eagles (2-0) cranked it up offensively for the remainder of the half. Fullback Brad Whittaker’s 75-yard run up the gut set up Moser’s six-yard scamper around right end for the first score of the game with 2:55 to go in the first. Dalton Kern then ran in the two-point conversion to give Cocalico the lead at 8-0.
Then, after the Cocalico defense forced a second-straight three-and-out by Reading (the Eagles held the Red Knights to just 186 yards in total offense), the Eagles called Moser’s number again on a counter play and the senior back out-raced the pursuit for a 42-yard burst. Kern added his second-straight, two-point run and the Eagles were rolling at 16-0 early in the second.
Janis then scrambled for his 24-yard score with 1:10 to play, but a Reading fumble on the ensuing kickoff led to a one-yard plunge by the QB with 33 seconds to go and suddenly the Eagles broke it wide open with a 30-0 lead at the half.
"We just had to get through the barrage at the beginning," Gingrich said. "It was kind of like Rocky Balboa…if we can get through the first couple rounds I thought we could settle into something. They have some nice athletes who are doing some nice things, but we were fortunate enough to make some big plays tonight."
None were bigger, or prettier on this night than the first play of the third quarter. Janis used play-action, the defense bit on the fake, and he hit a wide-open Moser in stride for the back-breaking 70-yard score.
"That’s just all-out execution," Moser said of the play. "It was in the gameplan from the beginning of the week, and we saw what they were doing and we called it at half-time. It worked."
Gingrich said his decision to go for the knock-out blow early in the third hedged on those nerves he still felt, despite holding a big half-time cushion.
"I don’t like to rub it in anybody’s face, and I hope people didn’t take it as rubbing it in, but (Reading) still worried me," he said. "Even though we were up 30-0, I was still worried that they could do something…I mean they have athletes, and they can make plays. I thought we have to go to (the 35-point Mercy Rule) if we can, so that’s what we did."
With reserves playing for both squads, Kern later added the final Cocalico score of the night with 5:32 to go in the third on a two-yard touchdown run. Reading (1-1) did avoid the shutout, getting on the board late when back-up QB Micah Paschall hit Kirk Boston on a 10-yard touchdown pass with 2:22 to play.
Afterward, Gingrich talked about the depth his team is developing- close to every player on the roster got time Friday night-and how that will help them going forward.
"I thought we did well tonight," he said. "Any time you can beat a school the size of Reading, and the athleticism they have, and you play all of your kids, I think that’s a good win."
"The last two weeks we’ve been able to play all of our players, and that helps develop everybody," he continued. "Our first teams are playing well now, but I think it’s our younger kids who are really practicing very well. And the better you practice the better you are going to show up on game days. The young kids had some mistakes here at the end, but we can live with that."
Up next, Cocalico takes its 2-0 record into the final non-league tune-up Friday night (7 p.m.) in Shillington against Governor Mifflin, which handled Lancaster Catholic, 28-0, this past week.
The Mustangs, who gave the Eagles one of their two losses a year ago in a 28-14 decision, have won all three meetings against Cocalico since renewing the series in 2010.
Mifflin is big, physical, and is led by 6-3, 210-pound junior QB Jan Johnson, a dual-threat QB who is garnering Division One interest.
Despite those challenges, Gingrich said he likes the way his football team is playing heading Friday.
"I feel good," he said. "I think we are where we want to be. We are 2-0 and played two pretty good games. (Mifflin) is going to be a big test. They are physically much bigger than us, they are stronger than we are and have some super athletes as well. (But) these kids never cease to amaze me and surprise me. I would have never predicted the outcome (against Reading). I thought we had a good chance (to win) but I thought it would be a tight game. They just seem to rise to the occasion. And as long as they continue to play like that, I think we got a puncher’s chance."
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