By Nick Beversdorf
Despite an amazing second half rally, the Tomahawk Hatchets lost to the Pittsville Panthers with a final score 32-30 Friday night.
The Hatchets were not able to put anything together in the first half; some missed blocking assignments and mental miscues would keep them from scoring. Defensively, they were sloppy in technique, they couldn’t tackle and were not as aggressive as they needed to be.
Pittsville made a two-yard run plus two point conversion to bring the score to 8-0 in the first quarter. Second quarter saw two more Panther touchdowns: one from a 60-yard run plus another two-point conversion, and another from a 16-yard pass and failed PAT to even out the second quarter at 14 points for a halftime total of 22.
By the time the Hatchets would get their offensive chance in the second half, Pittsville would increase their lead to 29-0 with a three-yard pass and extra point. Unfazed, the Hatchets would start with an Easton Phalin to Eli Wurl 76-yard TD pass that ultimately got the Hatchets rolling. A smart two-point conversion courtesy of Phalin brought it up to eight.
A Phalin to Wurl TD pass with a failed extra point, a Phalin 56-yard run with two point conversion, also courtesy of a Phalin run, and a 12-yard run with a two-point conversion pass to Kole Woodball brought the Hatchets up to 30 points in the fourth quarter.
A more aggressive and physical Hatchet defense along with better technique up front allowed the Hatchet linebackers to make plays and tackle effectively. Pittsville was only able to make a 30-yard field goal in the fourth.
Unfortunately, that field goal with about four minutse left in the game was enough to tip the scales in Pittsville’s favor, allowing them to win.
“Tough loss for the Hatchets on the road,” comments head coach John Larson. “It was a game of two very different halves. The first half we struggled for consistency. There were some bright spots. We took the opening kickoff and marched down inside the red zone but came away empty. That drive was highlighted by a Hatchet fake punt for a big first down by Wyatt Wenninger to keep the drive alive but we ended up turning the ball over on downs.”
Tomahawk had 10 first downs, two by passing and eight by rushing. Out of 21 pass attempts, nine were completed, all thrown by Phalin, totaling 138 yards and resulting in two touchdowns. They rushed for 173 yards gained and 30 yards lost, good for 143 net yards gained. They had one fumble and seven penalties, resulting in 47 yards lost.
“We held a team that rushed for 170 yards in the first half to just 58 in the second,” adds Larson. “Special teams was just as good in the second half as it was in the first. In the end the Panthers would make one more big play than we did kicking a 30-yard FG with about four minutes left on the clock which proved to be the game winner.”
“It was definitely a great second half. The guys proved they have no quit in them and found out what playing with a little emotion can do. Great effort, great comeback, proud of the way we battled.”
PTS: 8 14 7 3-38
TMK: 0 0 16 14-30
Passing: Easton Phalin (9/21, 138 yds, 2TD, 1INT).
Rushing: Phalin (11 TCB, 77 yds, 2TD); Kole Woodall (9 TCB, 13 yds); Wyatt Wenninger (2 TCB, 41 yds).
Receiving: Eli Wurl (5 rec, 119 yds, 2TD); Jackson List (1 rec, 9 yds); Woodall (2 rec, 5 yds); Jake Ruid (1 rec, 5 yds)
Interceptions: Wurl (1, 46 yds); List (1, 0 yds).
Punting: Wenninger (4, 152 yards, 38 avg).