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Wildcats' first playoff football game ends with a loss

November 11, 2011|By TIM KOELBLE | koelble@herald-mail.com

MIDDLETOWN, Md. — There were tears in the Williamsport postgame huddle after the Wildcats completed their first-ever playoff football game.

The final result was on the opposite end of the spectrum when compared to the effort put in by Williamsport, which fell to Middletown 42-6 on Friday in the Maryland Class 2A West semifinals.

“I am just so proud of these kids,” said Wildcats coach Randy Longnecker. “I’m proud of their effort. They did not back down. In the past it seems that is always what would happen against a team like (Middletown), but they did not tonight.”

Middletown (10-1), which will face Walkersville in the 2A West final, had too much firepower out of the backfield and an advantage in the trenches that eventually wore on Williamsport (5-6).

Junior back Zach Welch scored the first two times he touched the ball — from 17 and 57 yards — and rushed for 161 yards on 12 carries overall for the Knights. He ended with four touchdowns and six extra-point kicks.

Williamsport’s offensive problems in its first three possessions revolved around one mistake each time, leaving the offense in long-yardage situations it could not dig out of.

On its first possession, Alex Fridley ran 37 yards to the Middletown 31, but a botched lateral lost 12 yards and the ’Cats never recovered.

“Mistakes have been our bugaboo,” said Longnecker.

After Welch ran 33 yards for a 21-0 lead with 9:39 remaining in the second quarter, Williamsport answered with a 73-yard drive, mostly through the air as T.J. Boyer connected on four completions that eventually set up an 8-yard touchdown run by Theron Palmer with 6:16 left in the half.

Nick Berchock immediately intercepted a Middletown pass by quarterback Michael Pritts at the 48, but the Wildcats couldn’t string an offense together.

“We told the kids at halftime we were playing toe-to-toe with one great team,” said Longnecker. “If we could have gotten something before the half, we’d have been in a good position.”

The Knights went 52 yards to open the third quarter — with Welch scoring from the 2 — then added two more scores as the game got out of reach.

Pritts ran 20 yards for a score with 11:24 left in the game, and after Palmer lost a fumble on the kickoff return, Jess Powell scored from 15 yards to start the running clock.

Fridley gained 74 yards on 11 carries for Williamsport, which finished with just 62 rushing yards. Boyer had six carries for losses. However, he went 13-for-21 through the air for 130 yards, including four hookups with Jordan Palladino totalling 72 yards.

“We couldn’t run like we wanted to and had to throw more,” said Longnecker.

Middletown churned out 372 yards on the ground. Powell backed up Welch with 118 yards and Pritts added 77 yards.

Middletown 42, Wiliamsport 6
Williamsport    0    6    0    0    —    6
Middletown    14    7    7    14    —    42
First Quarter
M — Zach Welch 17 run (Welch kick)
M — Welch 57 run (Welch kick)
Second Quarter
M — Welch 33 run (Welch kick)
W — Theron Palmer 8 run (kick failed)
Third Quarter
M — Welch 2 run (Welch kick)
Fourth Quarter
M — Michael Pritts 20 run (Welch kick)
M — Jess Powell 15 run (Welch kick)
    Will    Midd
First downs    8    15
Rushes-yards    23-62    43-372
Passing yards    130    41
Comp-Att-Int    13-24-0    3-5-1
Total offense    47-192    48-377
Punts-Avg.    6-29.7    2-29.0
Fumbles-lost    4-2    1-0
Penalties-yards    3-20    4-30
INDIVIDUAL STATISTICS
RUSHING — Williamsport, Fridley 11-74, Murphy 2-14, Palmer 1-8, Boyer 6-(minus 17), Wise 1-(minus 12), Team 1-(minus 5); Middletown, Welch 12-161, Pritts 10-77, Powell 14-107, Rinehart 3-8, Panther 1-10, Barrett 3-6.
PASSING — Williamsport, Boyer 13-21-0-130, Wise 0-1-0-0, Jackson 0-2-0-0; Middletown, Pritts 3-5-0-41.
RECEIVING — Williamsport, Wise 3-17, Palladino 4-72, Palmer 4-25, Fridley 2-6; Middletown, Rinehart 2-26, Welch 1-15.

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