Eagles throw a scare into Mifflin
By: TODD RUTH Review Sports Editor firstname.lastname@example.org, Staff Writer
Dave Gingrich’s young Cocalico football squad may be coming of age. And the young Eagles couldn’t have picked a better time.
Friday night, the Eagles headed to Shillington to take on Governor Mifflin in the final tune-up before heading into Section Two play.
And a week after claiming their first victory of the season over Ephrata, the Eagles almost made it two in-a-row against a Mustang team that beat mighty Wilson in Week One. Cocalico jumped out to a 13-0 first half lead before the Mustangs rallied for a pair of touchdowns to earn a 14-13 come-from-behind victory.
While the Eagles did drop their second game in three weeks, the results show the team is getting better.
"I was extremely proud of the effort and heart our kids showed," Gingrich said of his team following the loss. "They played extremely hard and fought all night. However, we (the team) are not into moral victories. We must finish games. We scored 13 points in the first half and nothing in the second half. We need to keep improving."
After scoring twice in the first 15 minutes of the contest, the Eagle offense stalled after that in gaining just four first downs the rest of the way.
Cocalico certainly started strong, putting together a 13-play, 75-yard drive on it’s opening possession. Quarterback Brock Gosling capped the drive, hooking up with Spencer Moser out of the backfield for an eight-yard TD pass and a quick 7-0 first quarter lead.
Mifflin responded and drove from its 26 all the way to the Eagle 14-yard line before the Cocalico defense stiffened and turned the ball back to the offense on a fourth-down stop.
The Eagles then went back to work, needing just five plays to up the advantage. Moser scored his second touchdown of the game on an eight-yard run with 8:59 left in the half and the Eagles were definitely smelling upset despite a failed extra-point attempt which put the score at 13-0.
The Mustangs finally got on the board late in the second as Jake Snyder went in from six yards out to cut the deficit to 13-7 at the break.
And Mifflin’s offense remained in gear for the second half. The Mustang ground attack methodically wore down the Eagles. Mifflin’s first 12-play drive of the second half stalled on the Eagle 12, but the Mustangs cashed in on their next possession as David Clemens scored on a one-yard carry with 31 seconds left in the third. Brandon Morris kicked the extra point to give his team its first lead for what turned out to be the game-winning point.
Mifflin’s defense then stuffed the Eagles the rest of the way, holding them to just one first down in the final quarter.
Fullback Nick Reitenbach led Cocalico’s rushing attack with 86 yards on 16 carries. Moser added 41 yards on six totes as the Eagles were held to just 36 yards on the ground. Gosling passed for 75 yards and a touchdown on a 5-for-14 night.
While Gingrich acknowledged his team should get a boost from going toe-to-toe with the Mustangs, he indicated the Eagles are still a work in progress.
"W need to shore some things up in all facets of the game," he said. "We are making some big mistakes on offense, defense, and special teams. Part of it is our lack of game experience and part of it is lack of consistent discipline. We will continue to improve if we can focus our attention to the little things."
Cocalico will look to carry that momentum and improved play into this Friday’s Section Two opener at Manheim Central (7 p.m.). The Barons come in at 2-1 on the season and will be looking to avenge their 34-28 loss to the Eagles a season ago.
Gingrich said he hopes his team will be up to the challenge.
"Our team is a much different team that we were back in August," he said. "The players and coaches have really strived for daily improvement and we are beginning to see that during the games. We will continue to develop as a team."