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Fill-in QB lifts Burrell past Ford City

Cory Stivason | For the Leader Times
Ford City's Justin Retzer (No. 7) had a big first half for the Sabers on Friday, Oct. 12, 2012. He caught multiple passes against Burrell, including a diving catch at the one-yard line to set up Ford City's only touchdown.

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Friday, Oct. 12, 2012, 11:32 p.m.

Just minutes after his first varsity start at quarterback, Burrell junior Cody Wolfe stood at the doorway of the locker room shivering.

Neither nerves nor the cool temperatures caused Wolfe to shake a bit during the Bucs' 17-10 win over host Ford City (2-5, 1-5 Allegheny Conference). No, the junior's spasms stemmed from the ice teammates continued to shove down the back of his shirt as he answered interview questions.

The teammate torture was a small price to pay for Wolfe, who stepped up in a big way as the replacement for senior James Liput, who missed the game with concussion symptoms. Burrell (6-1, 5-1) barely lost a step on offense with Wolfe, who finished 5 of 8 for 89 yards and one touchdown passing. He also had 31 yards rushing.

“The game speed, I got used to it,” said Wolfe, who started at quarterback for the junior varsity last season and worked in at running back earlier this season. “It just came to me.”

Wolfe needed almost no time to ease into the role. His first throw fell right through the hands of running back Cole Bush, who was wide open along the left sideline and looked ready to score a 45-yard touchdown.

The junior went right back to Bush on his second throw, a 28-yard touchdown strike early in the second quarter.

“I knew we'd get it back,” Wolfe said.

The yardage from Bush's one catch in the first half nearly matched the senior's rushing total at halftime. But Bush, who had nine carries for 36 yards, looked more like the guy who gained 1,178 yards in six games during the second half. He finished with 29 carries for 151 yards and one touchdown, which came on a 1-yard run in the third quarter.

The win ended Ford City's seven-game win streak over the Bucs.

“(Ford City coach) John (Bartolovic) and his crew put a great game plan together,” Burrell coach Kevin Horwatt said. “These kids, they just did not show an ounce of quit.”

Fourth downs became big-play opportunities for Ford City in the first half.

The Sabers recovered two muffed Burrell punt returns in the first quarter. The latter recovery, made by Chantz Schrecengost at the Bucs' 3-yard line, set up a 22-yard field goal by Tyler Blaniar that put Ford City ahead, 3-0.

Midway through the second quarter, Ford City went for it on fourth-and-2 at Burrell's 34 and picked up 19 yards on a quick pass from Dave Lattanzio to Justin Retzer.

Another 19-yard reception by Retzer during the drive converted a third-and-15 and moved the Sabers to the Burrell 1. Two plays later, Lattanzio scored on a short sneak to put Ford City ahead, 10-7.

The Sabers came close to scoring with less than three minutes left in the fourth quarter. Lattanzio completed an 11-yard pass to Retzer, who flipped the ball to Devan Willyard, who gained 43 yards down the left sideline.

From the Burrell 27, Ford City gained just 8 yards. One pass was dropped in the end zone.

Lattanzio finished with 101 yards, all of which went to Retzer, who had nine catches.

“We played a lot better defense than we have all year,” Bartolovic said. “We just didn't come up with the big play. … We need playmakers.”

Bill West is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at or 724-543-1303.

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