Miscues cost Cocalico late in loss to Red Land

By on September 7, 2016
Cocalico running back Colton Goodman (5) hits the open field on his way to a big gainer Friday vs. Red Land. The sophomore rushed for 170 yards and a pair of scores in his first varsity game.

Cocalico running back Colton Goodman (5) hits the open field on his way to a big gainer Friday vs. Red Land. The sophomore rushed for 170 yards and a pair of scores in his first varsity game.

Cocalico came up just short in its season opener Friday, dropping a 29-22 decision to visiting Red Land.

Colton Goodman scored two touchdowns and rushed for a game-high 170 yards. He also contributed kick returns of 24, 47 and 45 yards while Mitchell Caffrey caught a touchdown pass from Brady Sawyer.

Red Land’s victory over powerhouse Bishop McDevitt on August 26 signaled Cocalico’s opening game was not to be an easy one against last year’s 3-7 team.

Coach Dave Gingrich saw other omens during the week that aroused concerns.

“We didn’t have a very good week of practice,” the coach said. “We were very lackadaisical. When you see things like that, you don’t know what to expect. I was worried that we were going to get our doors blown in.”

Throughout the first quarter, his fears were not prescient as the Eagles allowed a field goal on the Patriots’ opening drive but responded with a 80-yard drive culminating in Goodman’s first touchdown.

The drive began with Goodman runs of four and nine yards before Brandon Brubaker powered runs up the middle of three and 13 yards, bowling over tacklers on the second run.

Goodman accounted for the final 45 yards on three runs and scored with 1:27 left in the first quarter. On the TD run, he took the pitch from Sawyer, cut into a seam through the defense and ran straight into the end zone nearly untouched. Following the Ben Puodziunas extra point, the Eagles led 7-3.

Special teams set up the Eagles deep in Patriots’ territory when they forced a fumble on the kickoff on a vicious collision with Nathan Musser that jarred the ball loose from returner/wide receiver Josiah Espinosa. Espinosa remained on the ground for several minutes following the hit and did not return to the game.

The Eagles did not cap the turnover with points though as the Patriots held them to four yards and tipped two passes on second and fourth downs.

Gingrich’s concerns seemed to manifest throughout the second quarter as the Patriots scored two touchdowns. Justin Johnson ran for 46 of his 110 total yards in the second quarter and scored from nine yards with 1:38 left in the half. Johnson set up the first touchdown when he converted a third-and -seven for 10 yards from his own 34. On the next play, quarterback Jake Radic found Hunter Briner with a pass to the 50 and Briner sprinted down the sideline for the Patriots’ first touchdown.

Two missed extra point attempts left Red Land’s lead at 15-7 at the end of the first half. But one play into the second half, they extended their lead to 22-7 when Radic again hit Briner in stride for a 77-yard touchdown.

“We got to stop (the big plays),” lamented Gingrich. “We just got to clean some things up.”

Faced with a 15-point deficit, the Eagles responded with a long drive. Brubaker started the drive with four runs that again knocked Patriot defenders backwards. A roughing the passer penalty preceded Goodman’s 24 yard jaunt to the Red Land 27. On the play, he took the pitch out from Sawyer five yards behind the line and outran any defender near scrimmage on a sweep-like run. Two Patriot defensive backs tackled him but did not make contact until Goodman was 20 yards downfield.

Three plays later, Goodman scored from the 20, pinballing between defenders and teammates until he reached the end zone. A two-point conversion then got Cocalico to within a touchdown at 22-15.

The Eagle defense then forced a three-and-out series. On the ensuing punt, Goodman fielded the ball near his 35-yard line and streaked down the home sideline until he was spun around by a facemask. He gained about five more yards to the 30. The personal foul penalty set the Eagles at the 15-yard line.

Sawyer dropped back to pass on third-and-four and lofted a pass towards his right end zone corner. Caffrey made a leaping catch for the touchdown.

“Coach had a good play call on for what they were doing and the line did a great job,” recalled Sawyer. “(I faced) no pressure. I gave the receiver a ball he could catch. The receiver made a great catch. I put it up there. I did my best and he made a great play.”

The extra point tied the game at 22 with 4:40 left in the third quarter, but it was short-lived as Red Land restored a seven-point lead when Johnson returned the kickoff 98 yards for a touchdown.

Brubaker appeared to tie the game on the Eagles’ next possession but a penalty for an illegal shift nullified the play. Cocalico mounted one last drive as they drove 77 yards but lost a Brubaker fumble at the one with only 2:20 to go in the game. Red Land was able to run out the clock and sew up the hard-fought win.

“Their kids made plays,” said Gingrich. “They returned a touchdown 99 yards…that breaks your back. The first play of the second half, a 70-yard pass that breaks your back…a touchdown called back on a penalty that I didn’t see (and) a fumble here at the end of the game… I thought played with great effort (and) intensity. We just didn’t get the result we wanted.”

“I thought we picked up our intensity a little bit and it appeared to me that we were in better shape. We controlled the ball. They’re scoring off one play (drives). We’re grinding and grinding and grinding. That’s a tribute to our kids and their conditioning but no one on this team and no one on this staff is into moral victories. We expected to win the game. We were competing to win the game and we didn’t do it.”

The Eagles will look to get into the win column this Friday when they travel to Shillington (7 p.m.) to face Governor Mifflin.

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