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Written by: Avery Falisec on Sunday, September 12th, 2021
West Shamokin’s senior Owen Stover powers the ball through Purchase Line’s defenders (above). RAY KAUFFMAN PHOTO
Week three of Heritage Conference football pitted the West Shamokin Wolves, who were looking for revenge after suffering a loss in last year’s playoffs, against the Purchase Line Red Dragons. The Wolves earned exactly what they were looking for, after West Shamokin’s senior quarterback Bo Swartz connected with senior wide receiver Owen Stover with only 27 seconds left on the clock, leading the Wolves to their victory over the Dragons, 22-14.
Purchase Line began the faceoff with a very solid game. Sophomore Brock Small returned the ball to the 42-yard line, where the Red Dragon offense would make their debut for this game. Senior running backs Jayce Brooks and Brady Syster combined for a first down, followed by a 9-yard run by Syster. This allowed junior Andrew Beer to force the ball in for a first down at the 39-yard line. On the next play, sophomore quarterback John Elick dropped back to pass and launched the ball to fellow sophomore Austin Chambers in the endzone. After a bobble off of his defender’s back, Chambers was able to make the play for a 39-yard touchdown. Less than three minutes into the game, the score was 6-0.
The first sign of West Shamokin’s success was shown when Swartz connected with Stover at the Purchase Line 43. However, a flag was thrown on this play, so two plays later, the Wolves were forced to punt. Syster took control of things, once again, with a first down run past midfield to the 40-yard line. Elick and Syster gave the Wolves no breaks as they connected for another 20 yards. Brooks went through the right side of the line, moving the Dragons closer to the endzone, and Syster followed up with a run putting them one yard away. Elick finished things off with a 1-yard quarterback sneak for a touchdown. Elick, once again, hit Syster in the endzone for the conversion, increasing the lead for Purchase Line, 14-0.
The West Shamokin Wolves needed a kick starter for their offense and this came in the form of the Swartz brothers. Swartz handed the ball off to his brother, sophomore Lou Swartz, who stiff-armed his way to the 46-yard line. Two plays after this, Swartz was forced out of the pocket and back a few yards, before launching the ball downfield to his brother at the 25. Swartz and senior wide receiver Christian Sharp connected on a short pass and Lou Swartz advanced the Wolves on a run to the 5-yard line. This concluded the first quarter, with a score of 14-0 and a fast-approaching Wolves offense.
Only ten seconds into to the second quarter, Bo Swartz ran in a 5-yard touchdown and hit Stover in the endzone for the two-point conversion. West Shamokin was on the board with a score of 14-8. Elick answered by breaking free from the lines at the 35-yard line and sprinting to the opposing 35. After a few plays and an almost-interception by Stover in the endzone, the Dragons were held to a turnover on downs at their opponent’s 17-yard line. Another Bo to Lou handoff didn’t lead to a large gain, but it did lead to half of the field rallying around the younger Swartz in order to take him down. From there, Bo Swartz threw a 45-yard pass to Sharp, who ran with that to the 30-yard line. After many attempts, West Shamokin was kept from reaching the endzone by the Purchase Line defense. For the next few minutes, the two teams exchanged the ball back and forth. West Shamokin prevented Purchase Line from getting any farther than their own 25, so the punt team took the field.
Things started well for the Wolves on their next drive, when Bo Swartz rolled right and hit Sharp across midfield at the 40. However, Swartz was then sacked on different plays by Elick and twice by Jaylin Robertson, leading to another punt. Soon after, the first half ended, leaving the Wolves trailing after the Red Dragons, 14-8.
The Dragons had dealt with Bo Swartz for long enough to know that when the Wolves’ quarterback scrambled, he was dangerous. The elder of the Swartz brothers proved just that at the start of the half, when he was chased back from the line of scrimmage to the 20-yard line, and then threw a bomb to midfield, where his brother was waiting. Despite the effort, Lou Swartz was unable to make the play, due to being forced out of bounds. Senior halfback Jacob Wadding took the ball for a gain, and that was all it took for Swartz to finish that first down off with a run. The Dragons let them go no farther than the 40, forcing them to punt, but West Shamokin showed Purchase Line no mercy, so they punted shortly after. The exchange of the ball continued into the end of the quarter, leaving a score of 14-8.
Purchase Line’s offense still could not capitalize on their endzone pursuit, so the Wolves were given another opportunity to capitalize on theirs. Bo Swartz hit Stover at the 15 and Lou Swartz at the 5. A few plays later, the West Shamokin quarterback was in the endzone for a 1-yard touchdown that tied the game at 14-14, with close to six minutes left to play.
The Dragons needed to gain a lead back, but the Wolves would not allow it. On the second play of the drive, the ball was stripped from Purchase Line at their own 45 and recovered by West Shamokin. This led to a Swartz pass and receive duo at the 12-yard line, but on the same play, the ball was stripped from the Wolves. The craziness continued when the ball was intercepted by Stover, two plays later. West Shamokin inched their way through the Dragons’ territory, until Bo Swartz fired a bomb right into Stover’s hands in the endzone for 12-yard touchdown with only 27 seconds left in the game. The duo struck again for the conversion and that was it. The Wolves took their revenge on the Red Dragons, 22-14.
Bo Swartz said, “We knew we hadn’t played our best all around game in the first half and made too many mistakes that kept us from being in the lead. At halftime, Coach McCullough told us to play our game and be physical. Owen (Stover) bounced back strong in the second half. Coach told him at halftime that he would make the game winning catch and when it came down to it, he stepped up and made the play.”
Purchase Line’s senior Vincenzo Scott said, “We need to be more versatile. We have to capitalize on offense and we can’t let up. If we know our assignments and forget about the scoreboard, we can play football like I know we can.”
Purchase Line Head Coach Matthew Falisec said, “We started off very fast which was great, but we have to learn to finish. We need to clean up our blocking on offense and get ready for a very good Marion Center team on Friday.”
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