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Wildcats head off Leopards at pass

October 10, 1998|By MARK KELLER

WILLIAMSPORT - Eric Michael described it as "one of those things."

The Williamsport coach simply wanted to see what would happen if he were to open up his passing game against Smithsburg Friday night.

The result - well, the Wildcats offense ran about as efficiently as a Geo Metro, mixing short, high-percentage passes with a solid running game as Williamsport beat the Leopards 31-6 in a Monocacy Valley Athletic League game.

The Williamsport offense was not only efficient, it was balanced. The Wildcats gained 353 total yards - 170 on the ground, 183 through the air.

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"It's just one of those things we wanted to try. We wanted to see how we could go with the pass and try to open things up and take some shots down the field," Michael said. "We completed some passes early, then (Adam) Tournay and (Greg) King started bouncing their runs to the outside."

But the key for the Wildcats (4-2, 3-2) was Ryan Grabill. The junior quarterback completed 12 of 16 passes for 183 yards and a touchdown. He also scored on a 2-yard plunge to give Williamsport a 10-0 lead. That score came with 10 minutes, 7 seconds remaining in the second quarter. Smithsburg (2-4, 1-4) had possession for the next 9:52, yet the Wildcats still held a 10-0 advantage at the half.

For one drive, the Smithsburg offense was every bit as efficient as Williamsport's. The Leopards started at their own 20-yard line and marched all the way to the Williamsport 5. They converted four third-down opportunities and a fourth-and-6 to get into the red zone.

But when Smithsburg got there, Williamsport's defense stepped up. Josh Knable gained a yard to the 4, then lost two back to the 5. Darryl Clopper got the Leopards back to the 3 on third down, but Kevin Lowe overthrew Chip Kershner in the corner of the end zone.

Twenty plays, 77 yards, zero points.

"We couldn't run it in on them. Their defense is really tough," said Smithsburg coach Buddy Orndorff. "That's been the story of the year - missed by inches. We're playing good ball. We're just having a hard time turning the corner and winning."

The Wildcats carried momentum from their goal-line stand into the second half. Grabill hit Les Martin with a 16-yard scoring strike late in the third quarter for a 17-0 lead. Clint Crowell's second interception turned into a 55-yard TD.

Danny Rand broke a 66-yard touchdown run in the closing minutes.

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