Statement victory: Eagles double up Mifflin, 42-21 to improve to 2-0

By on September 13, 2017
Cocalico quarterback Noah Palm (left) looks on as fullback Brandon Brubaker (25) stiff arms Chase Yoder of Governor Mifflin during Friday’s big 42-21 Eagle win. Photo by Missi Mortimer

Cocalico quarterback Noah Palm (left) looks on as fullback Brandon Brubaker (25) stiff arms Chase Yoder of Governor Mifflin during Friday’s big 42-21 Eagle win. Photo by Missi Mortimer

Cocalico Coach Dave Gingrich has certainly been part of a lot of wins in his days in Denver. One hundred of them to be exact.

But the tone of his voice and twinkle in his eye led one to believe that the victory his team gave him Friday night was one of the better ones in his 14 years as head coach.

Fresh off their impressive season-opening 69-7 thrashing of Red Land, a team that gave Cocalico one of its four losses a year ago, the Eagles took it to Governor Mifflin to the tune of 42-21 Friday in the home opener.

It was the same Governor Mifflin squad that defeated mighty Wilson 21-14 in Week One, and held Cocalico to just 29 yards rushing a year ago in a 17-13 Mustang win, but the Eagles didn’t seem to mind.

Offensively, Cocalico rolled up 453 yards in total offense, including 380 on the ground. Defensively, the Eagles held a potent Mifflin offense in check, specifically limiting the Mustang running game to just 82 yards on 31 carries. They also sacked GM QB Kam Wolfe six times on the night.

In the end, it added up to a one-sided victory for Cocalico, one that certainly turned some heads across District Three.

“That’s an outstanding team,” Gingrich said of Mifflin. “That is a very, very well-coached, tough, physical team that we just beat.”

Did he expect his team to start off the season in such dominant fashion?

“No, with the exception of the penalties tonight, and we had the one turnover but I thought we played pretty well other than those things,” he said. ‘Would I have expected that? No. Would I have expected our defense to play good and solid? We return some players on that defensive side. A guy like Ben Fromm, it’s hard to block a guy like Ben Fromm. We can line him up at different places and stuff like that. I really thought our defense would carry us but I’ve been really, really happy with our offensive efficiency. We’ve been pretty efficient with the ball this year.”

Friday night was no exception.

Sophomore QB Noah Palm turned in his second-straight strong game under center, rushing for 124 yards and a score on 22 carries. Senior fullback Brandon Brubaker also carried a big load Friday, running for 154 yards and four touchdowns on 13 carries.

Cocalico scored on all three possessions in the first half, and three of its five drives in the second.

“First of all, our offensive line did a good job tonight,” Gingrich said. “Last year we had 29 yards rushing against these guys, and basically we both returned most of our players from a year ago so that comes down to just our technique and our desire. We played really well upfront. Now that being said, I think we got a good guy in Noah, who is pretty good in getting us in good plays and will handle the ball pretty well himself. Brandon had four carries last week for like 16 yards so he was more involved. We got some good slots, some good fullbacks, and then you bring Garrett Longenecker in there. And you look at the perimeter, you can’t pitch the ball if the guys on the outside are selfish. They are not selfish. They are team players and they block, block, block, and then every now and then we’ll throw them a ball.”

Looking to continue what it started against Wilson, Mifflin drove the length of the field on its opening possession and cashed in on a four-yard touchdown run around the right side by Wolfe for a quick 7-0 Mustang lead.

But Cocalico came up with a huge drive to answer. The Eagles went 74 yards in 14 plays and chewed up much of the first quarter clock before Brubaker punched it in from nine yards out to tie it 7-7.

That seemed to set the tone as the Eagle defense stiffened and forced a three-and-out on Mifflin’s next drive. Offensively, Cocalico marched down the field again as Brubaker this time finished it off with a two-yard plunge to give the Eagles their first lead of the game at 14-7.

Mifflin did respond as Wolfe found Tyshaun Weaver on an eight-yard TD pass with 2:18 to play in the quarter. But a 64-yard return on the ensuing kickoff by sophomore Ronald Zahm set up Cocalico at the Mustang 30. And six plays later, Zahm took a pitch around the right side four yards for the go-ahead score to give Cocalico a 21-14 advantage heading to the locker room.

The teams traded scores once more on each of their first possessions in the second half as Brubaker rambled 43 yards for his third touchdown of the game at the 9:39 mark of the third. Mifflin answered right back when Wolfe (9-17-1 168 yards, 2 TDs) hit wideout Bryce Stubler in stride for an 82-yard scoring strike to make it 28-21.

“Kam is the real deal,” Gingrich said of the Mifflin QB. “He can run, he makes good decisions in the option game, and he can throw. He’s a really solid kid and they have some speed on the outside. I think it was a coverage breakdown on the one, and some of these others you are going to give up some yardage. You just want to try to keep them in front of you and tackle real well.”

Cocalico did just that.

After the Eagles’ Danny Engle had his 36-yard field goal attempt blocked on Cocalico’s next possession, the Cocalico defense dug in and forced a three-and-out.

Three plays later, after a perfectly executed flea-flicker pass from Conlan Kerschner to Brad Heck covered 44 yards, Brubaker went off left tackle for a 26-yard touchdown on the final play of the third to make it 35-21.

Cocalico added one more score down the stretch after Kerschner’s diving interception got the Eagles the ball back at their own 32. Three plays later, Palm called his own number and broke free for a 52 yard scoring run that officially put the dagger in the Mustangs.

With the win, Cocalico improved to 2-0 heading into Friday’s final non-league contest vs. Upper Perkiomen. The Mustangs fell to 2-1 on the year.

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