SHILLINGTON –– Once again crowned Berks League Section 1 champions, after a one-year hiatus, Governor Mifflin took care to ensure the Mustangs will be a presence in the PIAA’s new 5A classification.
Mifflin scored four first-half touchdowns Friday night against visiting Waynesboro, then eased to a 41-14 victory over the Indians at Mustang Stadium in a District 3 5A quarterfinal. The Mustangs (10-1) will host red-hot Harrisburg (8-3) in next Friday’s semifinal. The Cougars whipped up on Mifflin’s Section 1 neighbor Exeter — the Michal Menet-led squad which unseated Mifflin a year ago — by a 36-10 count in their quarterfinal matchup.
The Mustangs accumulated 472 yards of total offense against the Indians (7-4), playoff novices who nonetheless grabbed the final 5A playoff spot after last week’s action by nudging out an 8-2 Palmyra club in the D-3 power rankings. Mifflin amassed 303 of those 472 yards on the ground on 53 bruising carries.
Waynesboro’s defense stiffened down the stretch as Mifflin repeatedly tried to grab a score that would send the mercy clock in motion, and the Indians grabbed a pair of late touchdowns thanks to some zany pass completions, but the final outcome was never endangered.
It was a typical November Mifflin performance, one that left Mustangs’ caretaker head coach Jeff Lang (longtime head man Mick Vecchio stepped aside for this season to address health concerns) relatively pleased with the result.
“We had a game plan set up and we followed it,” Lang said. “What they were giving up was exactly what we practiced for during the week and so we were pretty set with that.”
Mustang tailback Isaac Ruoss carried the yeoman’s share of the load, with 147 yards on 24 totes. It was his 50-yard scamper, untouched off left tackle, that pierced the scoreboard with 5:07 left in the first quarter the get the train rolling.
Mifflin’s Kam Wolfe — alternating with Austin Baker at quarterback, like the duo have done for much of the season — continued his streak of big-time clutch passes. Wolfe had touchdown tosses of 40, 38 and 42 yards to Ruoss, Aaron Grill and Ajay Sczepkowski, respectively to keep his club well in front. To bring the QB option of the Veer back into play, Baker (10 carries, 55 yards, one touchdown) took the snaps. The unpredictability of it all confounded Waynesboro’s defense when it was still a contest.
“Kam’s an athlete. He’s got a great arm, he’s got great feet,” Lang said. “He’s a good student for our quarterbacks coach.” Wolfe was 6 of 9 for 137 yards passing and one pick — the play after his interception, he picked opposing QB Brady Riddell right back.
Ruoss scored the middle of his three touchdowns early in the second quarter, a 1-yard run, to cap a nine-play, 52-yard drive and give the hosts a 14-0 edge. Mifflin surprised Waynesboro with an onsides kick, recovered by Shane Cannon, and punched it again six plays later. Wolfe found Ruoss in the flat on a simple dump-off screen and 40 yards later the big back found himself in the end zone for a 21-0 lead.
Mifflin scored a third consecutive possession, an 8-play, 80-yard campaign that ended when Grill weaved his way through Waynesboro’s second level for 38 yards and a 28-0 advantage, effectively putting to bed the competitive portion of the contest with 1:33 left in the first half.
Baker made it 34-0 with a 1-yard scamper early in the fourth quarter, but the home fans were denied a mercy clock-induced early exit when the point-after was blocked.
Successive probes to end it early after that were repeatedly met with resistance, as the Mustangs failed on a number of third and fourth-down short yardage situations. Those failures were fine Friday night with the game in hand, but Lang acknowledged it’s something that will need to be cleaned up before Harrisburg comes calling next week.
“Our kids were upset about that, too,” Lang said. “Obviously, we’ve got to watch some film and evaluate and make some adjustments if we have to. Maybe put some foot up some people’s rear ends.”
Forrest Rhyne got the Indians on the board with an 8-yard run midway through the final stanza, and the visitors scored again on their next drive to make it 34-14.
But Wolfe capped his killer evening under center with a 42-yard dart to Sczepkowski in the dying moments for the final margin.
District 3 5A quarterfinal
at Governor Mifflin HS
Governor Mifflin 41, Waynesboro 14
W – 0 0 0 0 – -14
GM – 7 21 0 13 — 41
GM – Isaac Ruoss 50 run (Ben Myers kick), 5:07
GM – Ruoss 1 run (Myers kick), 10:29
GM – Ruoss 40 pass from Kam Wolfe (Myers kick), 8:11
GM – Aaron Grill 38 pass from Wolfe (Myers kick), 1:33
GM – Austin Baker 1 run (kick blocked), 11:09
W – Forrest Rhyne 8 run (George Souders kick), 7:52
W – Mason Frampton 5 pass from Brady Riddell (Souders kick), 4:16
GM – Ajay Sczepkowski 42 pass from Wolfe (Myers kick), 2:47