Late Cedar Cliff rally helps Colts nip Cocalico

By on September 17, 2014
Cocalico lineman Dennis Boyer (52) gives quarterback Dante Haines time in the pocket to unleash a pass during last Thursday’s game at Cedar Cliff.

Cocalico lineman Dennis Boyer (52) gives quarterback Dante Haines time in the pocket to unleash a pass during last Thursday’s game at Cedar Cliff.

Cocalico suffered its first loss of the season last Thursday night at Cedar Cliff in a 28-27 thriller.

That was the bad news. The good news is the Eagles went toe-to-toe with one of the Mid-Penn heavyweights. And if not for some big-time heroics late from Colts’ sophomore quarterback Grant Breneman, the Eagles very well could have pulled it off.

This one turned into a bit of a track meet, and it stayed that way to the finish. With Cocalico leading 27-21, Breneman engineered a late drive in the final moments that saw the Colts start from their own 14 yard line. It ended on a fourth down play when he hit Noah Malone on a 59-yard screen pass that went the distance and gave the Colts the eventual win.

Breneman, a 6-0, 185-pounder with escape-ability, finished with 337 yards and three touchdowns on a 17-for-32 night, and was the difference maker, according to his coach.

“Grant is beyond his years,” Cedar Cliff Coach Colin Gillen said. “He’s only a sophomore but the kid’s ability to elude pressure and still make a football play was the difference in the ballgame.”

“The kids just kept battling,” Gillen continued. “It’s a great victory for us and I’m so darn proud of them because they played for each other. They really stepped it up…it was an awesome victory.”

And one Cocalico (2-1) could have had.

After Cedar Cliff’s Jayden Demmy (21-85) tied the game at 21-21 on a one-yard run late in the third quarter, the Eagles marched right down to reclaim the lead.

An interference call on a flea-flicker attempt set up the Eagles, and they cashed in when Devon Delpiano took a toss around left end and scooted 22 yards for the go-ahead score on the final play of the third. The ensuing kick failed though, and Cocalico held just a six-point advantage (27-21) heading to the fourth.

The Cocalico defense stepped up and held the Colts (2-1) on downs following their score, and the Eagles took over with 8:19 to play looking to run out the clock.

Matt Weinhold’s 32-yard burst on first down got the Eagles into Colt territory, and the Eagles eventually advanced all the way to the Cedar Cliff 14 when they faced a fourth-and-2. It was decision time and Eagle Coach Dave Gingrich opted or a pass, but it fell incomplete.

Later on, he was second-guessing his decision.

“I just made some dumb play calls at the end of the game,” Gingrich said. “I put our kids in bad positions and I take responsibility for that. I thought we had a nice drive there at the end. I thought it was a little behind the sticks, and we tried to pass. That didn’t work. We probably should have tried to run the ball, but we had been throwing the ball pretty well. They just made plays at the end and we didn’t.”

Had the Eagles converted, they could have put this one on ice. Unfortunately for them, they didn’t and Breneman and the Colts didn’t waste their final opportunity.

“A kid like Breneman, he’s a good kid,” Gingrich said. “We were in his face and we were around him, but he was unfazed by that. He seems poised, and thank goodness we only play him one more year.”

Other than the finish, Cocalico was pretty good the entire night.

After Breneman connected with John McGee on a 61-yard TD pass on the game’s first play, the Eagles regrouped and quickly got on the board as well.

After Tyler Fichtorn returned the kickoff all the way to the 45-yard line, the Eagles needed three plays as quarterback Dante Haines (6-12-1, 78 yards) used play-action before hitting a wide-open Fichtorn for a 34-yard scoring pass.

D.J. Fabiani (4-92) ran in a two-point conversion and the Eagles took the lead at 8-7.

After trading turnovers, Fabiani broke a 61-yard run off left tackle to up the lead to 15-7 with 11 seconds remaining in the first quarter. But Cedar Cliff responded with a score of its own as Breneman hooked up with Malone on a flanker screen that went for 77 yards to cut the lead to 15-14.

That didn’t last for long though as the Eagles marched right down the field in nine plays as Delpiano cashed in on a six-yard touchdown run with 7:41 to play. The extra-point attempt was blocked and the Eagles carried the 21-14 lead into the half.

For the game, Cocalico rushed the ball well on the bigger Colts, pounding out 304 yards on 36 carries. Fabiani led the way but Weinhold (12-84), Haines (15-81) and Delpiano (4-44) were good compliments.

Defensively, Cocalico bottled up the Colts’ run game for the most part, limiting them to 128 yards on 32 carries. Cedar Cliff did have better success on the ground in the second half, perhaps with their size wearing down Cocalico a bit.

But Gillen said he was impressed with the Eagles.

“You know what, that is a darn good football team we just played,” he said. “They are very, very good on the line of scrimmage, and they are very well coached and disciplined. This was a good win for us.”

While Gingrich wants nothing to do with moral victories, he seemed generally satisfied with his team, in spite of the loss.

“You schedule games like this to make you better, and I think we’ll be better because of it,” he said. “It hurts, and it should hurt, but we played hard. We might not always have the most talent, and we might not have the most size or athleticism, but we are going to give you 48 minutes of our best effort, and I think you saw that tonight. I didn’t question that at all. I was worried about getting beat up a little bit but I thought we held our own.”

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