Purchase Line routs Homer-Center
PURCHASE LINE-It would have been easy for the Purchase Line Red Dragons to look past Homer-Center to tonight's showdown with undefeated Marion Center.
Red Dragons Head Coach Dave Small would have nothing to do with that.
"The only game we are concerned about is this one," Small said minutes prior to last Friday's kickoff. "There's no such thing as a trap game for us. All we stressed was Homer-Center, and you worry about this week's game and that's it."
His point was well taken and his team took care of business, staying within one game of Marion Center by overwhelming Homer-Center 40-6. The loss dropped the Wildcats to 1-6, their worst start since 2000.
The 'Cats finished that year 3-6. Their fans can at least hope for a strong finish this year, as H-C gets ready to host United (2-5) tonight before closing out the season at Penns Manor (2-5) next weekend.
"They are a very powerful football team with a lot of experience, a big line, and strong backs," said Wildcats Coach Ed Kowchuck. "They have a powerhouse."
With the victory, Purchase Line (6-1) now gets ready to host Marion Center tonight at 7 before concluding the regular season at Saltsburg.
The Red Dragons enter this weekend as the top ranked team in District 6 Class A.
"Trust me, we're not thinking about the playoffs yet," Small said. "We want the Heritage Conference title if we can get it. That's what we are looking at. If we can do that, that's a big plus, although we know we have a big challenge (Marion Center) in front of us."
Entering last Friday's game at Barry Madill Field, the Red Dragons had forced a Heritage Conference high of 17 turnovers and had a plus-8 turnover ratio. They padded that league-leading statistic by forcing the Wildcats into five turnovers last week, converting three of them into 20 points.
As has been the case most of the season, Purchase Line dominated the line of scrimmage and Homer-Center again was over-matched in the trenches.
The Dragons rolled up 404 yards of total offense, including 393 rushing on 55 attempts.
"They also have the best overall line," Kowchuck said. "They have great quickness and footwork and get off the ball on both sides. They are doing something right up there. They have great backs, and Logan Small is in a class of his own.
"He is just a great player. He certainly had his way with us."
Logan Small had his way, despite sitting out the entire second half, as he rolled up 130 yards on 11 carries in the first two quarters.
His father and head coach did not play many regulars the entire second half, after building a 28-6 lead at halftime.
"I'm thankful to Coach Small because he pulled his stud backs out at the half," Kowchuck said.
The Wildcats were held to 18 yards rushing on 19 charged rushing attempts.
H-C has been held to under 100 yards rushing in five of their seven games, four times being held to less than 25 yards rushing as a team.
Purchase Line grabbed the early lead on its opening possession, driving 77 yards on seven plays in three minutes. Logan Small set up his team's first score, running for 53 yards on the Red Dragons' second play from scrimmage. He totaled 66 yards on the drive and capped it off from 7 yards out with 7:31 to play.
Although Logan Lawson's extra point was blocked, PL had a 6-0 lead.
For the second week in a row, H-C was victimized by its opponent on the opening play of the second quarter, four seconds in.
Senior QB Shawn Small threw his fourth TD pass of the season to a wide-open Jim Rusko in the right corner of the end zone. Tim Lydick carried the ball for the two-point conversion, to give PL a 14-0 cushion.
The Wildcats fumbled near mid-field halfway through the second quarter, and Purchase Line took advantage of the opportunity by driving 51 yards on six plays.
Small scored his second TD of the game, and league-leading 12th of the season, from 15 yards out. Logan's cousin, Shawn Small, then hit tight end Derek Patterson for the two-point conversion pass, increasing the lead to 22-0 with 5:47 to play in the half.
H-C got on the board on their next possession. A 33-yard pass to Nathan Morrow that would have taken the ball to the one-yard line was nullified due to a holding penalty.
Then sophomore QB Garrett Sisak hit a streaking Tyler Sasala in stride along the left sideline for a perfectly-thrown 50-yard touchdown pass. Sasala, who slipped two tackles along the way, scored his first touchdown of the season with 2:03 to play. Sisak was stopped just short of the left pylon on the attempted run for two.
Sisak, who was again pressured much of the evening, was once again a bright spot for H-C. He completed 11 of 22 passes, for 178 yards, with a touchdown and two interceptions. He has thrown for 868 yards in his rookie year.
Purchase Line answered the 'Cats score just before halftime, driving 70 yards on five plays, aided by two H-C personal foul penalties. Fullback Brent Kordish plowed his way into the end zone from 9 yards out to make it 28-6 with 39 seconds remaining. Lawson's extra point was blocked.
The Red Dragons added touchdowns in the final two quarters. QB Shawn Small scored on a three-yard run with 3:08 to play in the third quarter. Reserve running back Damian Fry closed out the scoring on a six-yard effort following the Wildcats' fifth turnover.
The try for two failed, as PL was only two for six on extra-point attempts.
Next up for the Red Dragons will be Marion Center.
Homer-Center will try to finish on a positive. "We will be going against one of our rivals in United, and our goal will be to try and stop that inside trap and the waggle pass," Kowchuck said.
"MC Coach Malicky does an excellent job," Small said. "They have been the talk of the conference, and they very well should be. They are very physical and we are hoping to give them a good football game. It will be nice to be at home and, hopefully, that will be a little bit of an advantage for us."
Meanwhile, Homer-Center will try to finish on a positive.
"We will be going against one of our rivals in United, and our goal will be to try and stop that inside trap and the waggle pass," Kowchuck said. "We always play each other physical, and I wouldn't expect anything different tonight."
Notes: PL had 23 first downs to H-C's 9ÉPL attempted just five passes, completing one, and it went for a touchdown to RuskoÉ.PL possessed the ball for 28:35 to H-C's 19:25É.The Red Dragons were six of eight on red zone scoring chances, H-C 0-1ÉPL was also 7 of 11 on third-down conversions, H-C 4 of 10É.H-C fumbled three times, losing all three to go along with two interceptionsÉ.Corey Conti led the Wildcats with seven tacklesÉAdam Koren and Nathan Morrow finished with six, Aaron Stultz with five and played exceptionally on special teamsÉThe 'Cats do not have a running back who has rushed for a touchdown this season. H-C will honor six seniors prior to tonight's final home game against United.