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Thiel Slips by Westminster, 24-21, on Final Play

Written by: on Sunday, October 4th, 2009


GREENVILLE — If George Gervin was the Iceman for the San Antonio Spurs, John Madeline (Hubbard) definitely filled those shoes Saturday for the Thiel Tomcat football team.

With 2.2 seconds on the clock in regulation and the game on the line, Madeline calmly stepped up and without the blink of an eye or breaking a sweat, drilled a 46-yard field goal to lift the Tomcats to a 24-21 PAC win over the Westminster Titans at Alumni Stadium.

“First of all, I just want to thank my offense for putting me in the position to make the kick,” said Madeline. “There is no other thing like it. Nerves are going, but I knew it was good as soon as I kicked it.”

Following the game, Thiel coach Kurt Reiser was a happy camper with the outcome.

“I thought both teams played well today,” said Reiser. “They had the upper hand on us early and were draining the clock out on us. That is when we went to our no-huddle offense and we were able to get things moving and get our second score in. Our kids never gave up and that is a testament to their character. Right now I am ecstatic with the win, we’ll take a little time to enjoy this one and then get back to work next week and get ready for our next game.”

After the defensive units of both teams took turns smashing the respective offenses in the mouth for the first 28 minutes of the contest, the Titans broke on top 7-0.

Titan reserve quarterback Shawn Lehocky did the honors for Westminster as he bulled in from one yard for the score. Trevor Young’s PAT made it 7-0 Titans with less than two minutes remaining in the opening half.

With Thiel (2-3, 1-1) pinned deep in its own territory inside their 10-yard line, Jordon Rooney returned a Tomcat punt to the Thiel 12.

Two carries by Nick McKolosky netted 11 yards to the Tomcat 1, setting up Lehocky’s sneak to pay dirt.

Following Lehocky’s TD, the two teams went back to pounding on the opposing offenses until the Tomcats took over on their own 43.

Nine plays later mixed among a rash of penalties, the Tomcats
broke into the scoring column when quarterback Willie Bova hit Ross Gargano (Kennedy Catholic) with a pass in the flat, and Gargano did the rest as he juked a couple of defenders into the end zone to complete the 11-yard TD hookup. Madeline’s PAT tied the score at 7-all with 13 minutes left in regulation.

“When I caught it, I turned around and saw two guys there,” explained Gargano. “I knew I had to make something happen because we were down (in the score). Once I got past those first guys I just knew I had to get in (to the end zone). This is the best win of my college career.”

Following the Gargano score, the point explosion began as after only being able to combined for 14 points in the first 54 minutes of the game, the two teams combined to tally 31 in the frantic final half dozen minutes of the game.

After an exchange of possessions, the Tomcats took their first lead in the game when Garrett McElwain blocked a Titan punt and Bobby Shew recovered in the end zone for the score.

However, not to be denied a chance to win the game, the Titans (1-4, 0-1) came back to tie the score at 14-all when Nick McKolosky bulled in from the one with 2:02 left in regulation.

Following the McKolosky TD, the Tomcats only needed 35 seconds to regain the lead when quarterback Willie Bova (Port Allegany) dialed up a Hail Mary pass, and Mary answered with an 86-yard pass-and-run to Brendan Taylor.

“We felt we could get it before we ran the play,” explained Bova. “With Brendan’s speed, nobody can run with him. Coach told me to roll out and if I have time, hit Brendan deep with a post pattern. When I glanced over, I saw he had three or four steps and I just let it rip.”

“We talked about it at halftime and I knew he could get it there,” said Taylor of the deep pattern. “He just threw it high and far and I was able to run under it.”

In workmanlike fashion, Titan QB Kevin Franz engineered a drive that covered 62 yards and only took six plays and one minute to complete. The final two plays of the drive were passes from Franz to Jon Gubish covering 27 and 18 yards, the 18-yarder good for the score.

With one last chance to win the game in regulation, the Tomcats maneuvered from their own 32 to the Titan 29, setting the stage for Madeline’s heroics on the final play of the game. The big play on the final drive was a pass to Taylor covering 30 yards.

“We knew we had to complete balls and stop the clock and we couldn‘t afford a turnover or sacks,” explained Bova about the final drive. “We wanted to get down the field because we knew that John (Madeline) is a consistent field goal kicker and he came through for us.”

Following the game, Westminster head coach Jeff Hand was quick to point out the excitement of the finish.

“It was an exciting fourth quarter,” said Hand. “Both teams were making plays and in the end, they ultimately made more plays than we did. We made some positive strides in our program today. It is just unfortunate it had to come in a loss.”

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