Weinhold returns to rush for 218 yards and two scores in win

By on November 5, 2014
Cocalico’s Matt Weinhold (20) steps out of a tackle during Friday’s 28-26 victory over Lancaster Catholic. (Photo by Preston Whitcraft)

Cocalico’s Matt Weinhold (20) steps out of a tackle during Friday’s 28-26 victory over Lancaster Catholic. (Photo by Preston Whitcraft)

After missing the last four weeks due to an injury, Cocalico’s Matt Weinhold wanted to make an impact when he returned to the field for Friday’s regular-season finale at home vs. Lancaster Catholic.
Mission accomplished.
The 5-8, 160-pound senior fullback was a workhorse Friday night, and Cocalico needed every bit of it. Weinhold carried the ball 33 times for 218 yards and a pair of touchdowns to lead the Eagles to an exciting 28-26 victory over the Crusaders.
“It’s tough to come out in your senior season and suffer from an injury,” Weinhold said. “It was just great to be back. I love playing with this group of brothers. We got a lot to look forward to the rest of the season and we are going to take it as far as we can.”
With the win, the Eagles closed out the regular season with a 7-3 record and clinched the seventh seed and a home game (vs. East Pennsboro Friday) in the upcoming District Three playoffs.
What makes that record even more impressive is the fact that the Eagles graduated 22 key seniors a year ago. On top of that, they were without injured starters Weinhold and DJ Fabiani (sat out Friday with a shoulder injury) for stretches during the year and saw starting QB Dante Haines go down with a season-ending knee injury in Week Eight.
Still, they found a way to get to the post-season.
“I just couldn’t be more proud of these guys,” Cocalico Coach Dave Gingrich said following Friday’s win. “We are out-manned, we are undersized, we are all banged up…We had some, not just bumps and bruises, but we’ve had some bad things happen to us. For us to finish 7-3, I couldn’t be more proud. I looked today, from last year’s team, we had one returning starter on defense. Frank Ackerman was the only kid that started the (final playoff) game (last year). Other than that offensively we had Weinhold, (John) Fry and Brady (Maxwell)…that’s three offensive starters and one on defense…I know everybody else says, ‘we’re young, we are this, we are that.’ We didn’t have a lot coming back, and for us to finish where we did…that’s pretty good for us right now.”
Cocalico gave away some chances to score in the early going and found itself trailing 6-0 after one following a six-yard run by Catholic’s Nassir Weaver late in the first.
On the Eagles’ first drive, kicker Matt McKinney’s 35-yard field goal attempt was blocked, and then after the Weaver score, the Eagles drove deep into Crusader territory before Devon Delpiano was stuffed at the goalline on a fourth-and-goal play.
But Delpiano got Cocalico going one play later when he picked off Catholic QB Jordan Scott at the Crusader 27. Six plays after that, Weinhold went off right tackle to give Cocalico its first lead at 7-6 with 6:51 to go in the half.
Another Crusader turnover which resulted in a fumble recovery by Cocalico’s Abdul Saad set up the Eagles at the Catholic 32 with 6:37 to go in the half. A four-yard burst by Weinhold kept the drive alive before QB Brady Sawyer finished it off with a five-yard TD scamper with 3:30 to play. Trevor Fichtorn’s two-point conversion run upped the Eagle lead to 15-6.
But still, Cocalico could have increased it when Christian Kemp fumbled the ensuing kickoff and gave Cocalico the ball at the Crusader 20. But the Catholic defense stiffened and stuffed Weinhold at the three-yard line on the final play of the half.
“We had our opportunities early on (to increase the lead) but we couldn’t cash things in,” Gingrich said of the two goalline stands and missed field goal in the first half. “Again, you are playing with a sophomore quarterback, and you are inexperienced in some areas but we needed to punch that in. Give Catholic credit. This was for their playoffs. They needed a win to get in and they played very hard, very physical.”
While Weinhold was stuffed just before half, he was a determined runner as the Eagles opened the second half with the ball and called the senior’s number eight-straight times, moving the ball from their own 20 to the endzone. His final run&tstr;a two-yard plunge closed the drive out and upped the Eagle lead to 22-6.
“We found a set that we liked,” Gingrich said when asked of the drive. “We just kind of kept going with that. (Sawyer) was making some good decisions. There were some read plays out there and he made some good decisions. Matt ran his tail off and the line blocked very well. I didn’t know it was eight straight, but I like it. We could have ran more. He’s durable so he’s the type of kid that gets better with more carries too.”
Weinhold added, “We worked as a unit, and we are going to do what works. The coaches are going to call awesome plays and we are just going to give it to them. That’s what we did. (The drive) was a team effort. It wasn’t just me.”
The Crusaders (3-4 Section Two, 4-6 overall) struck back midway through the third when Kemp caught a pass in the right flat and rambled 45 yards down the sideline for the score to cut it to 22-12.
Then Catholic made a game of it and seized the momentum from the Eagles with a 95-yard drive that ate up six minutes of clock before Weaver finished it off with a one-yard plunge with 4:50 to go in the fourth.
That scoring drive got the Crusaders to within a field goal at 22-19, but it only lasted a few seconds.
Delpiano took the ensuing kickoff at his own three-yard line and slithered down the left sidelines for a back-breaking 97-yard touchdown return. The officials initially threw a flag on the play, but after consulting, picked it up.
“That was exhilarating to say the least,” Delpiano said of his big play. “I got in the endzone and one of the refs came up and told me it’s coming back. My heart just sank, but then it was back and the play stood…I couldn’t have done it without the blocking upfront. Our guys really stepped it up. That was a game-changing play. It changed the momentum, and that’s how we pull out (wins), making special team plays like that when everyone comes together.”
Trailing 28-19, the Crusaders drove right down the field again to score on a two-yard run by QB Bryan Downey with 3:03 remaining to cut the deficit to 28-26. However, after Cocalico recovered an onside kick, the Eagles, behind a big fourth-down run by Weinhold, ran out the clock and held on for the victory.
“This speaks to the kind of character our kids have,” Gingrich said. “They are good kids and they really, really care about one another. I think that’s what stands out to me most about this group. I don’t think they want to let each other down. I don’t think they want to let us down as coaches, or their parents, the school or community. But I think more than anything they really don’t want to let their teammates down. That says a lot about a team.”
And they get to do it for at least one more week as they enter Districts for the 17th time in school history.
“I’m so happy we get to have another week with our brothers,” Delpiano said when asked about Districts. “This team is such a brotherhood and I wouldn’t trade it for anything. To have another week with them is just a real special thing.”

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