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Written by: Luke Rainey on Friday, September 24th, 2021
HOMER CITY–Warm air rises, while cold air falls.
This scientific fact holds true when examining the red-hot Homer-Center Wildcats and the ice-cold Marion Center Stingers in the Heritage Conference standings.
Momentum is continuing to work in the right direction for the Wildcats in the 2021 season, as they advance to 4-1 with a commanding 40-22 win over the Stingers.
The win was especially made possible with a 4-touchdown outing by senior running back Collin Troup, whose night ended with over 215 rushing yards.
Wildcats’ Head Coach Greg Page–now a winner of 101 games with the Wildcats–was complimentary of Troup’s season after the victory.
“He’s had a nice season. He’ll be the first one to credit the guys up front, and with the tight end up front, that was the key. They had some decent-sized guys on the line, but we were able to really hit some seams and get moving.”
The Wildcats’ night began from their 45-yard line. They stuck entirely with a solid rushing attack on their first drive, gaining 31 yards on a pair of carries with Troup and Michael Krejocic. After ten plays, quarterback Cole McAnulty scored Homer-Center’s first touchdown on a 7-yard scramble.
Marion Center’s response was truncated when quarterback Ty Ryen was sacked in the backfield on third-and-10. After an exchange of punts, Homer-Center retook possession from the Stingers’ 43-yard line at the start of the second quarter, but suffered a turnover on downs when McAnulty’s pass on fourth-and-3 fell incomplete.
A three-and-out for the Stingers brought the Wildcats’ offense back to the field. Landon Hill moved Homer-Center back to the Stingers’ 34-yard line on three runs for 19 total yards, but he fumbled on the next play. The ball fell directly into the grasp of Marion Center defensive back Brady Weaver.
The Stingers offense still failed to ignite, experiencing an additional three-and-out. The Wildcats began their next drive with a ferocious 19-yard carry by McAnulty after he dodged and muscled his way through a number of Marion Center defenders.
The run preceded a 47-yard run by Troup to produce his first touchdown of the night. Homer-Center moved to a 14-0 lead after a successful 2-point attempt.
During the drive, McAnulty suffered a minor injury. Although it was not serious, the Wildcats chose to keep him sidelined through the rest of the game.
“It was just a bruise, and we just chose to be cautious with it.” Page explained.
For Marion Center, the situation would merely escalate from bad to worse. In a single play, Ryen’s pass was intercepted by Krejocic, and the Wildcats scored again on a 9-play drive with a 2-yard run by Troup. The Stingers were left with 45 seconds before halftime, keeping the score at 22-0.
Marion Center was forced into another punt to open the third quarter. It precipitated another touchdown for the Wildcats, this time on a 16-yard completion from backup quarterback Anthony Rowland to Noah Henry.
The offensive domination would shift to the defense through the second half for the Wildcats. Down 28-0, Ryen threw his second interception of the night to inside linebacker Justin Walbeck. The same situation would repeat itself with two more interceptions on the next pair of possessions for the Stingers, as Troup and Krejocic added to the turnover spree.
The Wildcats only scored in the aftermath of the final interception through a 5-yard run by Troup, bumping their lead to 34-0.
Although trailing by an insurmountable deficit, Marion Center partially healed the wounds of an otherwise horrific defeat through the final quarter. On third-and-11, Ryen threw a deep pass to Brady Tonkin, who ran unmatched for a 66-yard receiving touchdown.
A successful 2-point attempt marked the Stingers’ first points of the night, but a fumble by Walbeck immediately after the touchdown was recovered by Ryen and returned to Homer-Center’s 10-yard line. Tonkin then scored his second receiving touchdown on third-and-goal.
Homer-Center would get a final strike with Troup’s fourth rushing touchdown, but Tonkin also added a third touchdown to his night on the ensuing drive for Marion Center. The Stingers ended the night with a successful 2-point run by T.J. Lynn, still falling far short against the Wildcats with a 40-22 score.
The Stingers’ skid now moves to three consecutive games, giving them a losing record at 2-3. Head Coach Adam Rising emphasized the need for the Stingers to make urgent improvements.
“We just have to keep working,” Rising stated. “We were in a rut early on offense, but we’re shooting ourselves in the foot over and over again. From an execution standpoint, we’ve got to clean it up.”
Meanwhile, Coach Page discussed how the momentum from the first half carried them to their fourth victory.
“We came out with our first drive and got behind our big line, and we did a nice job plowing away to get our first touchdown. We did have a couple drives that stalled us out, but the pick got us going again, and then we had another score.”
“I also felt like that our guys up front really did a nice job handling the pressure they brought,” he added.
Homer-Center will visit the 1-4 Penns Manor Comets next week to aim for five straight wins, while the Stingers will have to battle against the Cambria Heights Highlanders, who remain undefeated at the top of the conference standings.
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