WEST LAWN >> Call it cliché when one says football “is a game of inches.”
However, sometimes a cliché does the best to convey the narrative.
Friday night, it was an inch, not inches that separated Spring-Ford from a momentous early season victory, as Spring-Ford quarterback Stone Scarcelle was stuffed fractions away from the goal line on a two-point conversion in double overtime, sealing the game for District 3 powerhouse Wilson and sending the Rams home with a 41-40 defeat.
“This game will pay dividends down the road,” Spring-Ford head coach Chad Brubaker said. “We were in a tight game. Obviously it’s kind of cliche, but it’s a shame that in one of these games that one team has to come out on the short end. It would have been nicer to have said that we hung in there and had one more point than they did but sometimes that’s just the way it goes. I couldn’t ask for any more.”
— Sam Stewart (@Samuel_Stewart7) September 10, 2016
Evident on the last play, neither team had anything left in the tank.
Following Grayson Kline’s one-yard keeper that put Wilson up 41-34 in the second overtime, Spring-Ford wasted no time in getting even. Selwyn Simpson barrelled his way for a 10-yard score, taking a Wilson defender three yards into the end zone with him, to make it 41-40, prompting a Ram timeout.
There was no question – the Rams were going for two.
Scarcelle lined up at quarterback with running back Selwyn Simpson to the right, took the snap and ran the read-option before keeping it himself and bulldozing his way right into the heart of the Wilson defense. Scarcelle’s helmet got in on the initial push, but Wilson defenders were right there to make sure that was all that got in. Trying to reach the ball over the plane, Wilson kept Scarcelle an inch short, prompting jubilation on the sideline as Bulldog players rushed the field. Ram players sunk. They had nothing left in the tank.
“There’s nobody in there crying, there’s nobody in there feeling sorry for themselves,” Brubaker said. “They gave it all they had and they have no reason to apologize. They played their butts off. We kept asking them to play one more play, play one more play and they kept coming up big.”
Wilson came away with the win despite committing 14 penalties for 133 yards. Players like Kline and Alex Twiford were the reason why.
Kline entered the game on Wilson’s last drive and engineered a beauty, a 10-play, 68-yard march that brought the Bulldogs in range of kicker Nick Borelli, who calmly booted a 29-yard field goal at the end of regulation to send the game into overtime. Kline finishing 7-for-11 with 80 yards.
Starting quarterback Connor Uhrig finished 17-for-31 for 270 yards and three touchdowns. He also rushed for a team-best 88 yards on 16 carries
“To come in cold and march us down the field. It was huge,” Wilson head coach Doug Dahms said. “That’s the beauty of having a two-quarterback system.
“Last game we alternated them every two or three series but Uhrig was running real well and hitting some nice short routs so it’s kind of one of those things you just go with the flow.”
Twiford came up big all throughout, his catch in the second overtime one of the better moments for the 6-2, 225-pound tight end. Facing a third and goal at the 15, Twiford caught a strike from Kline and held on as a Ram defender tried to jar the ball loose. He fought his way to the one-yard line before Kline did the rest on fourth down, his one-yard keeper proving to be the difference in Brubaker’s return to Wilson. Twiford finished with a game-high eight receptions for 92 yards,
“He’s legit,” Dahms said of Twiford. “He made some big catches and made some big plays. He’s getting back; we only had him in a few series last week (against Governor Mifflin). He’s still a little gimpy but he played well enough.”
Spring-Ford’s Matt Gibson and Selwyn Simpson shined for the Rams. Gibson finished with 112 yards rushing on 24 carries, a true workhorse effort. Simpson lit up the scoreboard, rushing for three touchdowns, his 37-yard run up the gut giving the Rams a 24-21 lead in the third. Simpson finished with 85 yards rushing on 15 carries.
“Those guys (Gibson and Simpson) were banged up coming into the game,” Brubaker said. “There’s guys that were banged up the first two weeks. Lee Albert was banged up. Those guys just kept playing. We kept asking them to go back in there and make plays and they kept doing it. There’s not much more that you can ask of them.”
Big D >> The Rams defense, despite allowing 469 yards of total offense, was a huge reason why the game stayed tight. Led by the play of Dan Cassidy, Tanner Romano and Nick Salomone, the Rams ‘D’ kept the Wilson offense out of the end zone in crucial moments, limiting them to a field goal after the SF quarterback threw a interception deep in Ram territory. The defense also started the team’s comeback, registering a safety after a beautiful special teams play pinned Wilson down at the one. The safety made it 21-16 in the third before Simpson’s aforementioned touchdown made it 24-21.
“They came up huge all night,” Brubaker said of his defense. “We had a couple turnovers in our own territory. One time they held them to a field goal, the other they just held them. There are guys just running on empty making plays.
Staying Cool >> Spring-Ford kicker Erick Rodriguez, hit a 30-yard field goal to give the Rams a 27-24 lead midway through the fourth. Borelli was not to be outdone, hitting a 26-yarder to tie it at 24 before tying the game at 27 as time expired with a 29-yard boot.