Leopards pick their spots

October 14, 2002|by BOB PARASILITI

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WILLIAMSPORT - Smithsburg and Williamsport hooked up Saturday in the Monocacy Valley Athletic League's version of "The Tortoise and the Hare."

On this day, the hare won ... by a hair.

Smithsburg used the quickness of tailback Dustin Sier - and some big-time defense in the final two minutes - to outlast Williamsport's power attack of Jereme Leazier and Neil Forsyth in a 13-8 victory that spoiled the Wildcats' homecoming festivities.

Sier was instrumental in both Smithsburg first-half scoring drives, rushing for 104 yards and the Leopards' first touchdown. Leazier and Forsyth keyed Williamsport's comeback try, rumbling for a combined 175 yards before a lack of time and too many mistakes took their toll.


"That was a heck of a game played by two M*A*S*H units," Smithsburg coach Buddy Orndorff said. "Everybody knows (Sier) is our go-to guy. We didn't get any offense during the two games he was out with a separated shoulder. He's a great north-south runner and doesn't need a lot of blocking to get through his holes."

Sier set the tone with a 41-yard gain on the first play of the game. The run started a five-play, 67-yard scoring drive on which Sier's number was called on every play, culminating in a 3-yard run for the score and a 7-0 lead at the 10:02 mark of the first quarter.

"The first part of the game, (Sier) gets through the holes and we were arm tackling him. He got a big run on the short field and, again, we have our backs against the wall," Williamsport coach Eric Michael said. "That gives them confidence. We were looking for one of our runners to step up like that for us. I think we found two today."

Leazier took care of the tough inside yardage to carry the Wildcats (0-6, 0-5) downfield for an answering score, ending a drive which started late in the first quarter. His five carries for 19 yards during a 16-play, 80-yard march opened the door for Williamsport to work a possession passing game.

Quarterback Ben Vatavuk, elevated from junior varsity two weeks ago, hit tight end John Hose on three critical passes, the last for seven yards to finish the drive. Former quarterback Dustin Bachtell, now in the Wildcats' backfield, rolled out on a fake extra point and passed to Todd Wilson for the conversion and an 8-7 lead with 6:32 remaining in the half.

"We played today," Michael said. "It's very disappointing. We are trying to win a game bad for these kids. They had a couple of big plays and that's the story of our season. We were unable to overcome them."

Smithsburg took advantage of a short Williamsport punt to get the lead back late in the first half.

Quarterback Daniel Faulders started the drive at the Wildcats' 39 by scrambling out of the pocket for 26 yards. After two inside runs by Sier, Faulders ran two times to cover the last four yards, threading the middle of the line for the final yard and a 13-8 lead with 1:27 to go before halftime.

"We were fortunate to drive the ball downfield and get that touchdown which basically won the game," Orndorff said.

The second half became a tug of war in the mud, with each team trying to grind out yardage on the ground. Forsyth became a big part of Williamsport's final thrust for a winning score with runs to the left side of the field.

Williamsport used two drives in the fourth quarter behind Forsyth, around the left end, and Leazier, up the middle, to threaten Smithsburg's lead.

Forsyth scored on a 14-yard sweep, but the touchdown was called back on a hold. The drive ended with a fumble.

Williamsport's final thrust lasted 14 plays over the last 4 1/2 minutes of the game. Smithsburg finally found an answer to Forsyth's sweeps to the right, moving Jeff Mills to the outside corner.

Mills took Forsyth down for a three-yard loss with 40 seconds remaining. Sier intercepted Vatavuk on the next play to seal the victory.

"(Mills) is quicker, a senior and a captain," Orndorff said. "He knows what to do. (Williamsport) is basically a power team and they caught us with that off-tackle play. We weren't able to stop it until the very end."

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