Janis-less Eagles down Elizabethtown
TODD RUTH Review Sports Editor email@example.com
, Staff Writer
Dante Haines got the keys to the Cocalico offense Friday night at E-town, and the sophomore helped deliver the Eagles’ eighth win of the season.
Haines stepped in for senior QB Jhett Janis, who was away on a recruiting trip, and he guided the Eagles to a 33-15 victory over the host Bears. Haines completed 4 of 7 passes for 92 yards and a touchdown, while rushing for 45 yards on nine carries in the win.
With the victory, Cocalico remained in second place in Section Two behind Manheim Central, upping its record to 5-1 (8-1 overall). E-town fell to 2-4 (3-6 overall).
"I thought Dante had a great first half," Cocalico coach Dave Gingrich said. "He did a lot of nice things. We had a rough patch to start the second half that we had to work through, so there was some adversity to handle. But I thought he did a super job of focusing on leading our team. He is very talented and will be a good one in the future."
It was business as usual for the Eagle offense on its opening drive. Trailing 3-0 after E-town’s Austin Hilsher connected on a 35-yard field goal, Cocalico got the ball at its own 20 yard line and drove 80 yards in nine plays before Spencer Moser (14 carries, 66 yards) scored from eight yards out. Danny Graybill’s extra-point try clanked off the upright but the Eagles still led 6-3.
Then late in the first quarter, a personal foul call on E-town gave the Eagles the ball at the Bears 44. Haines carried twice for 27 yards on consecutive plays to set up an eventual 32-yard field goal by Graybill to up the lead to 9-3.
Cocalico then added a pair of scores in the second quarter to take command. First, Mitch Shober’s interception of a Tyler Cottle pass set up Moser, who went around right end for a two-yard touchdown run. On their next possession, Haines found a streaking Mitch Deering for a 51-yard touchdown pass to up the Cocalico lead to a seemingly comfortable 24-3 lead with 2:04 to play in the half.
But the Bears didn’t go away quietly.
First, Cottle (14-for-20, one interception, 132 yards) scored late in the half to cut his team’s deficit to 24-9.
Then in the third, a Cocalico fumble set up a Cottle-to-Arthur Quaye 22-yard touchdown pass to get the Bears to within nine points at 24-15.
The third quarter was a rough one for the Eagle offense, which punted twice and turned the ball over to other times.
Fortunately, they righted the ship in the fourth quarter.
After a bad punt gave the Eagles the ball on their own 44, they put together a time consuming 11-play drive that was capped by a three-yard touchdown run by Brad Whittaker (10 carries, 49 yards) to up the Eagle lead to 31-25.
The Cocalico defense then closed it out when Stewart Martin sacked Cottle in the endzone for a safety to finish off the scoring.
Despite the win, Gingrich felt his squad had an up and down night.
"I thought we were inconsistent most of the night," he said. "There were some good plays sprinkled in with bad plays. We just didn’t execute in any area on a consistent basis."
As far as the District Three rankings are concerned, it was a good night for Cocalico. Both top-seeded Bishop McDevitt and third-seeded Conrad Weiser suffered losses Friday, which propelled Cocalico to the third seed overall with one week remaining.
Cocalico will close out regular season play Friday night at home where the Eagles will look to win their third-straight Ephrata Review Cup when they host Ephrata at 7 p.m.
Ephrata comes into the game winless at 0-9, but Gingrich said his team will not take the Mounts lightly in their final tune-up before District playoffs begin next week.
"We need to get back to the basics," Gingrich said. "We have not been crisp the last few weeks. It’s not that we haven’t played well in spurts, but we have not been as consistent as we need to be. This is a rivalry game and we expect Ephrata to come over here in an angry mood and try to take out their frustrations on us, so we need to be focused on execution."
More EAGLES, page B-5