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Wildcats find truth on scoreboard

September 29, 2007|by Mark Keller

Anyone who says numbers don't lie ... well, they lie.

Nearly every statistic of consequence in Friday's game at School Stadium favored South Hagerstown.

Williamsport led the one that mattered most - points scored.

The Wildcats relied on an opportunisitc defense which took advantage of five South turnovers and withstood a late rally to beat the Rebels, 13-12.

South quarterback Wes Samples threw four interceptions, including three in the second quarter.

"We saw him on tape and a little bit last year, when he gets pressure on him, he throws it up," Williamsport coach Adrian Custer said. "We got some hits on him and he got a little rattled."

To Samples' credit, he shook off perhaps the biggest of those hits early by throwing a 38-yard touchdown pass to Cory Shank on the very next play that pulled South within one with 9 minutes, 48 seconds left in the fourth quarter.

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The Rebels (0-4) opted to go for the two-point conversion, in part because kicker Cameron Allen took a hit to the leg when his first PAT attempt of the night was blocked.

"That was part of it, but we still had time on the clock, so if we miss, we can still win," South coach Greg Kellick said.

Samples pitched the ball to Nick Gross, who threw into the end zone for Tywan Lee. But Lee couldn't scoop up the low pass to convert the two-point try as Williamsport (2-2) maintained its 13-12 lead.

The Rebels had two more chances to take the lead, but the Wildcats defense stepped up on both occasions. Samples was dropped for a 12-yard loss to end one drive and Williamsport's Mike Russ intercepted a tipped Samples pass at the 2 and returned it all the way to the South 15 to seal the win.

The strong defensive effort by the Wildcats helped cover up an anemic offense which gained just 43 yards in 36 plays. Williamsport also was penalized 12 times for 115 yards.

"We're going right into the (MVAL) Antietam Conference, it's not going to back down. It's going to be physical football the rest of the way through," Custer said. "We need our offense to make some plays, and if we can play defense like we did tonight, we'll be fine."

The Wildcats didn't have to work too hard for their first score of the night. Samples dropped into punt formation on South's first possession, but the snap went well over his head and rolled all the way to his own 2, where he covered it up.

With first-and-goal there, the Rebels made it even easier for Williamsport by jumping offsides to move the ball to the 1. Adam Cook punched it in from there for a 7-0 lead.

South got on the board in the second quarter, going 75 yards in just six plays - the biggest a 40-yard run by Gross, who capped the drive with a 5-yard run and a dive at the pylon for the touchdown. The blocked PAT left South trailing, 7-6.

After South forced a Williamsport punt, Samples had another tipped ball intercepted - this one by Brandon Morales, who returned it 11 yards for a touchdown. Morales had two of Williamsport's four picks.

"If somebody tells me we're going to give them (43 yards) and they'll only get three first downs, I'm jumping up and down," Kellick said. "I'm betting the ranch and everything else that we're going to win."

There's the proof that the numbers do, in fact, lie.

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