Panthers take Trail to victory

September 11, 2004|by MARK KELLER

WILLIAMSPORT - A leg cramp kept Hancock's Jaret Trail out of the end zone once. Given another opportunity, he was determined to find his way.

Trail scored on a quarterback keeper on fourth-and-goal from the 1-yard line late in the fourth quarter to tie the game, then hit paydirt again little more than a minute later to lead the Panthers to a stunning 13-7 victory over the Williamsport Wildcats on Friday.

Trail led all rushers with 116 yards, including runs of 33 and 35 yards in the final 3 minutes of the game - both of which ended on the 2-yard line.


The first run resulted in Trail lying on his back out of bounds as coaches tended to his cramped leg. Though by rule he had to leave the game for at least one play, Trail didn't plan to stay out for long.

"I wasn't going to stay out," Trail said. "There wasn't anything that was going to keep me out. I was going to get back in and try my hardest."

After three runs up the middle by fullback Josh Ruppenthal moved the ball just inches from the goal line, Trail lowered his head and plowed through the line for a touchdown with 1:27 left. Ryan Joy added the point-after to tie the score at 7-7.

The Wildcats (0-2) got good field position following the kickoff, starting what coach Adrian Custer hoped would be a tiebreaking drive from their own 44.

"We got the ball back and just wanted to run a couple of plays that were working for us in the first half," Custer said.

The drive lasted but one play as the ball bounced loose after the snap and Hancock's Bryan Powers jumped on the fumble.

"When we were in the huddle before the kickoff, I was telling them we were going to overtime," Hancock coach John Blake said. "Their attitude was, 'We're going to win this here.'"

The quick turnover caught Trail by surprise.

"I had my back turned getting a drink of water," Trail said. "I didn't know what happened. This kind of stuff only happens in dreams."

But Trail's dream wasn't over yet. On second down at the Williamsport 37, Trail ran the same play he had run on the last drive, with nearly the same result - a gain of 35, down at the 2.

Only this time there was no cramp.

Trail went into the end zone untouched one play later, giving the Panthers (2-0) a 13-7 lead with 15 seconds remaining.

"Our defense played well but it was on the field too much in the fourth quarter," Custer said. "You can't have the defense on the field for 15 plays and expect to win. It's got to be right on and right off."

The Wildcats kept the defense fresh through the first three quarters, allowing Hancock just five first downs and intercepting Trail twice. They relied on the running of Tim Lowery and Neil Forsythe to help in keeping the defense on the sideline.

Forsythe broke free for a 25-yard touchdown run with 8:10 to go in the second quarter, and Lowery and Forsythe pushed the Wildcats down to the Hancock 4 as time ran out in the first half. But Jesse Barnes' 21-yard field goal attempt sailed wide left with 1 second remaining.

"As bad as we played in the first half, we were only down 7-0," Blake said. "We knew we were in it and we knew we could play with them."

Williamsport came up empty in the third quarter as well, driving from its own 25 to the Hancock 10 before stalling and turning the ball over on downs.

"This is a tough loss for the program, but (Hancock) beat us on both sides of the ball tonight," Custer said. "We knew that we were in for a dog fight."

The Herald-Mail Articles