LOWER GWYNEDD >> Last week, as Wissahickon fell to Pottsville, head coach Randy Cuthbert pointed to turnovers and penalties as the main difference in the game.
This week the Trojans took better care of the ball, but penalties once again reared their ugly head to come back and bite them, as they committed 15 for 105 yards and fell to Quakertown 40-28 in their Suburban One League American Conference opener.
“Our kids really battled but the penalties just continue to hurt us,” Cuthbert said. “The penalties are self-inflicted wounds, they’re things you can control, and we just can’t continue to do that and expect to win games, especially in our league.”
It was not just penalties that killed the Trojans. Quakertown’s two-headed rushing attack made up of running backs Christian Patrick and Noah Wood terrorized them as well as they combined for 349 yards and six touchdowns, making it a long night for the defense.
“We played too high and against a team that big you can’t play high up front,” Cuthbert said. “Those guys are both tough runners but their line really killed us and was really the difference, we came out in a five-man front and still they gave us problems.”
Patrick and Wood both gashed the Trojans, but it was Wood who finished the night with the game ball. The senior finished with 22 carries for 245 yards and three touchdowns for an eye popping 11.1 yards per carry as he just couldn’t be taken down by the defense.
Two scores from a yard out as well as an 18-yard touchdown scamper showed both his power and his elusiveness on his way to an outstanding performance.
“Noah (Wood) does everything for us,’ Quakertown head coach George Banas said. “Defensively, offensively and just in general he’s the leader of the team and as a running back he just doesn’t go down. He also showed some speed tonight which I honestly didn’t know he had so that was great too.’
Wissahickon shot out to a 14-7 lead with 8:51 left in the first half after Marlyn Johnson took a wide receiver screen 81 yards for a touchdown. But after that, Quakertown’s rushing attack went to work and the Trojans’ offense got ice cold.
Running back Daryl Baldwin, Wissahickon’s leading rusher, was frustrated all night, finishing with 14 carries for just 45 yards, forcing them to try and go to the air, something they’ve struggled with this year.
However, even though it hasn’t necessarily always been their strong suit, the most successful part of the Trojans offense was their passing attack. After throwing 3 interceptions the week before, Wissahickon quarterback Mike Schoenleber was sharp and controlled the offense, completing 14 of 25 passes for 212 yards and a touchdown.
“We tried to do some different things in the passing game and do some quicker stuff to get the ball out of his (Schoenleber’s) hands quick and it was working a little,’ Cuthbert said. “He played really well, put the ball in the spots it needed to be and took care of the ball, so he’s just going to keep getting better as the season goes on.’
By the end of the third quarter it didn’t look like this one was going to be much of a game.The Panthers had a 33-14 lead and looked as if they couldn’t be stopped, but some huge special team’s plays from the Trojans, including a 62 yard punt return for a touchdown from Antaun Lloyd, brought them to within 6 with over 7 minutes to play in the game.
Unfortunately for Wissahickon, the Panthers got the ball on the ensuing possession and drove it down the field for 6 points for the final, game winning tally.
“I am definitely proud of the way we came back and kept battling,” Cuthbert said. “We just need to be able to put ourselves in a better position by not hurting ourselves so much with penalties”