The Wolverines came into the evening with their backs against the wall – 0-2 on the season, a 14-game losing streak, and more importantly, the defending 3A State Title team was their opponent for week 3. But when push came to shove, the Wolverines proved stronger – ousting the Tigers in commanding fashion 28-0 Friday night.
The battle of new coaches also were impacted on the evening, as both teams (BF – HC Nardone, EC – HC Hand) had to prove something on the evening coming in 0-2 on the young season. EC’s losses were against a solid Central Valley team and a young Hopewell team. BF’s losses were against superior Aliquippa and Apollo Ridge teams. With so much hype on the evening as both teams were looking for their first win, the Wolverines proved worthy of handling the pressure as EC stood their ground all night.
The first quarter moved swiftly through the night as quarter one only took 18 minutes of real-time. The only score of quarter one was a big turnover by the Tigers as Luca Botti intercepted a pass by Dayln Brickner and returned it 28 yards for a touchdown at the 10:06 mark. The PAT was good by Jonathan Jefferson. Luca Botti’s play all game long helped propel the Wolverines to big plays, big turnovers, and ultimately, the W on the night.
After the first score, both teams struggled to move the ball as after one quarter, the total yardage was 33 to 1 (yes no misprint there!).
The second quarter proved more of the same, as both teams started moving the ball between the 35’s, but could not finish off drives. The one lone score of the second quarter was that by Andrew O’Brien for the Wolverines after another big turnover occurred by the Tigers a few plays earlier. The play was actually a bust-play, as Andrew O’Brien turned the wrong direction for the hand-off to Rick Pitrelli, but O’Brien was able to improvise, seemingly to be stopped after a three yard gain. However, O’Brien planted his foot, gave a stiff arm, and bounced outside great blocking by the Wolverines line and wide receivers as O’Brien scampered into the endzone from 17 yards out to make the score 13-0. The Wolverines decided to go for 2 as the pass attempt was failed, keeping the score 13-0 Wolverines.
Right before halftime, the Tigers finally broke through the Wolverines defense for only the second time in the half across the 50 yard line, and were able to drive to the 2 yard line with 14 second left. However, timeouts come at a premium – the Tigers had used all their timeouts and had to get into the endzone. Dayln Brickner took the snap, read the option, and decided to keep the ball and ran forward; however, the Wolverines defense stood tall. All the linemen including returning Noah Borison, the linebackers including returning Angelo Battaglia were in on the stop and held the Tigers at the goal line. As time ran out for the half, the scoreboard read 13-0 in favor of the Wolverines. As the Wolverines left the field, the crowd and those in the press box could feel a great upset brewing in the air as the Wolverines shutout the Tigers in the first half.
Halftime festivities included both marching bands as well as a great competition at halftime as the teachers from both school districts worked together to raise money for Childhood Cancer Awareness.
The second half included much of the same in the first half – the Tigers were able to move the ball, but not capitalize, and the Wolverines finding small victories in the trenches continued to counter-punch the Tigers defense. Push came to shove midway through the third quarter as another interception thrown by the Tigers helped lead the Wolverines to the endzone, by way of an 8 yard rushing touchdown by Rick Pitrelli, his first on the season. The PAT attempt was blocked and the score read 19-0 Ellwood City after three quarters. Could it be that not only do the Wolverines break the streak, break their streak against the Tigers, AND do so by way of a shutout? YES!
The fourth quarter fell into the hands of the Wolverines as the Tigers could not move the ball past the 50 yard line, as a big fumble and scramble by Dayln Brickner led to a safety as the ball continued going backwards into the endzone with no recovery. The safety was very unconventional as the line of scrimmage was the 40 yard line, but the ball ended up bouncing all the way back out of the endzone. At this point, the score read 21-0 Ellwood City with hopes of a shutout looming.
The final score of the night came off another turnover on downs for the Tigers as Rick Pitrelli added another score, rushing into the endzone from 9 yards out. The PAT kick was good by Jonathan Jefferson and the celebration was starting early as the reserves started checking into the game. As the score read 28-0 Ellwood, the last 6 minutes took only a blink of an eye to finish off the Tigers of Beaver Falls. The wait was over – your 2017 Wolverines broke the streak, beating not only a team that they have been 1-14 against the past 15 years, but more importantly against the defending 3A State Title team. The Wolverines had done it – winning the game in shutout fashion and their first win since October 23rd in 2015.
Building a tradition has been the main focus for new Head Coach Nick Hand as the Wolverines finished their handshakes and continued to run over to the student section and band section as the Wolverines as a whole came together and sang the High School’s Alma Mater together in hand. As the Wolverines left the field once again for the night, they left with a W on their backs, proving worthy of the better team on the night.
The Wolverines have little time to celebrate as the Quips of Aliquippa come into Helling Stadium during week 4 as the Quips are 4-0 on the season and continue to dominate their opponents.
Stat leaders for the game were as follows:
- Passing: Shane Reisinger – 2/4 13 Yards Long of 7 Yards
- Rushing: Rick Pitrelli – 15 Carries 66 Yards 2 TDs and 4.4 average per carry
- Rushing: Andrew O’Brien – 12 Carries 66 Yards 1 TD and 5.5 average per carry
- Defensive: Luca Botti – 5 Total Tackles 1 Tackle for Loss 1 Pass Broken Up 3 INTs for 48 Yards 1 INT Return TD
Notes on the Evening:
- TURNOVERS: 3 to 1 – For the first time all year, the Wolverines won the battle of turnovers, forcing 3 interceptions on night compared to their only one interception.
- Rushing Offense: 3 TDs – It took three weeks, but the Wolverines tacked on three rushing TDs on the evening, their first(s) for the season.
- Yardage: 195 to 149 – Once again the Wolverines out-gained their opponent two weeks in a row, but more importantly, got the victory.
- 3rd Down: 3 of 11 versus 4 of 9 – The Wolverines proved stout on defense, holding the Tigers to 3/11 on third down while also being 4/9 on third down on offense.
- The Streak(s): The Wolverines break three streaks on the evening – The first victory after a 14-game losing streak dating back to October 23rd of 2015, the first victory against the Tigers since 2011, and the first shutout victory since the 2015 campaign against Burgettstown.
source: Bradley Windhorst, ecwolverines.com