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Russ runs Wildcats to victory

November 06, 2009|By BOB PARASILITI

CLEAR SPRING -- They both made plays. They both made mistakes. They both battled to the end.

It was a 50-50 proposition for the Williamsport and Clear Spring football teams. It was fitting ... that's how both of their seasons ended.

Reggie Russ ran for 108 yards and two touchdowns as the Wildcats won the fledgling Washington County rivalry for the sixth straight time with a 20-7 victory in a game that meant everything and nothing at the same time.

The outcome gave both teams 5-5 records. It was the best-ever finish for Clear Spring, which had a slight shot of earning a Maryland Class 1A West berth with a victory and a whole bunch of help. It was Williamsport's best finish in 10 years.

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It all left a sense of satisfaction coated with disappointment for the two coaches.

"It wasn't pretty ... I don't know why we played so badly," said Williamsport's Randy Longnecker, who finished his first year with the Wildcats. "Finishing 5-5 is a heck of a year for us, but knowing that we had three games get away from us, it's frustrating."

Clear Spring's Craig Bathgate echoed those sentiments.

"I sure would have loved going 6-4," said Bathgate, who was 1-19 in his first two seasons at Clear Spring. "If we would have come in in the beginning of the year thinking we were going to make the playoffs, this would have been disappointing. Our games against Smithsburg and this one both show we are going in the right direction."

In the most meaningful regular season finale for either program in some time, each team had problems taking the lead in this dance.

Clear Spring had problems moving the ball -- finishing with just 18 yards of offense in the first half -- while Williamsport had trouble getting into the end zone.

The Wildcats broke through on their second drive, with quarterback Casey McKenrick finding tight end Nate Willis on a short crossing pattern on fourth-and-goal from the 16. Willis pulled in the ball and battled into the end zone for the 6-0 lead.

Russ made it 12-0 midway through the second quarter when he took a quick-hit handoff up the middle and jetted 55 yards for a touchdown without being touched.

"I wanted to run real well tonight," Russ said. "It was a play up the gut and I was gone."

The play came during the period when Williamsport was dictating the game.

"We were trying to take advantage of what they were giving us," Longnecker said. "We finally got the running game going after the last couple of weeks."

Williamsport made it 20-0 in the third quarter with a seven-play drive that was sustained by two McKenrick completions to Wills and Kemper Baker. Russ ran up the middle from the 2 and Kenney Frye bulled in for the conversion at the 5:06 mark.

From that point, Clear Spring decided to get its 50 cents' worth of the action.

The Blazers ran out the clock to end the third quarter and scored on the first play of the fourth period when Adam Mellott hit Sam Adams on a 13-yard scoring strike to cut the lead to 13.

"They were bringing the house and we couldn't get the ground game going," Bathgate said. "Once we got our protection down, we were able to find some receivers."

Clear Spring made a bid to steal the game midway through the fourth quarter with another scoring drive. The Blazers passed their way down the field to get to the 6.

On first-and-goal, Mellott scrambled to his left and worked his way toward the end zone. He was holding the ball high at the 1 when he was hit by three Wildcats defenders and fumbled the ball into the end zone, where Frey pounced on it to secure the turnover and a touchback.

"We had a couple of bad breaks and a couple of dropped balls," Bathgate said. "We were ready to score and we had the momentum. Those kinds of mistakes happen when a player tries so hard to get the extra yardage."

Williamsport was able to control the clock the rest of the way, despite a hailstorm of penalty flags. The Wildcats were penalized 14 times for 135 yards.

The game became a passing duel as McKenrick hit 10 of 23 passes for 157 yards and Mellott finished 9 for 21 for 113 yards. Williamsport won the offensive battle, 338-147.

"Knowing that we lost those three games is frustrating," Longnecker said. "It makes you want to come back and set the bar higher next year."

Williamsport 20, Clear Spring 7

W -- Nate Willis 16 pass from Casey McKenrick (kick failed)
W -- Reggie Russ 55 run (pass failed)
W -- Russ 2 run (Kenney Frye run)
CS -- Sam Adams 13 pass from Adam Mellott (Andy Jarvis kick)

INDIVIDUAL STATISTICS

RUSHING -- Williamsport: Russ 13-108, Sutch 11-89, Frey 1-2, Baker 2-(minus 2), McKenrick 5-(minus 16); Clear Spring: Etzel 13-44, Morgan 2-5, Adams 2-4, Habel 1-(minus 1), Connors 2-(minus 1), Mellott 10-(minus 17).
PASSING -- Williamsport: McKenrick 10-23-0 157; Clear Spring: 8-21-1 113.
RECEIVING -- Williamsport: Smith 3-59, Willis 3-51, Baker 2-47, Sutch 1-(minus 3); Clear Spring: Adams 3-43, Habel 1-23, Elwood 1-16, Jarvis 1-13, Brathwaite 13, Connors 1-7, Etzel 1-(minus 2).

Williamsport6688--20Clear Spring0007--7WillCSFirst downs1214Rushes-yards32-18130-34Passing yards157113Comp-Att-Int10-23-09-21-1Total offense55-33851-147Punts-avg.5-31.46-30.0Penalties-yards14-1353-13Fumbles-lost3-12-2
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