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Wyomissing fights back, wins first state title in school history

Written by: on Saturday, December 15th, 2012

“I was thinking we’re gonna kick a field goal, I’ve seen Jonah (Bowman) kick them in practice so it was a no brainer.  I had all the confidence in the world in him”.  And with that Wyomissing head coach Bob Wolfrum made the best choice of his season. He called upon Bowman to attempt a state championship record 52 yard field goal to take the lead.  It cleared easily and turned out to be the margin of victory. 17-14.  With that kick the Wyomissing Spartans finished their season undefeated at 16-0 and state champions.  But it didn’t come easy.

Aliquippa came into the game high powered, fast and ready to play.  On the very first possession of the game it showed.  The Quips lined up on defense and, on the second play of the game, forced Notre Dame recruit Alex Anzalone to fumble his first carry of the game.  Malik Stewart pounced on the ball and the Quips were in business at the Wyomissing 35.  Seven plays later running back Dravon Henry scored from one yard out.  Terry Swanson ran for the two point conversion and just like that Aliquippa led 8-0.

Wyomissing battled back on the ensuing drive getting to the Aliquippa 25 but on third and twenty five Stewart came up with another of his three turnovers in the game, picking off a pass by Spartan quarterback Corey Unger at the Aliquippa 33.  “I just made a bad decision on that throw” said Unger of the errant pass.  The Quips drove the Wyomissing 3 but were stopped cold on fourth and 3.

The Spartans scored early in the second to make the score 8-7 on a 13 yard run from Mason Smith.  Smith, who finished with 2 touchdowns and 58 yards on 7 carries, appeared to fumble the ball while celebrating going into the endzone but the call on the field stood. Touchdown.  “I know, coach gave me heck for that” said Smith when asked about the near mistake.

Wyomissings defense came up with a big stop forcing the Quips to punt from their own 23 but the ball bounced off Anzalones shoulder and Stewart got his third turnover in the first half.  “I just couldn’t get anything going offensively in the first half. I was thinking man, I cost us 7 points on those 2 turnover” said Anzalone of his first half troubles.  The Quips again capitalized on Anzalones mistake putting together a 12 play, 42 yard touchdown drive.  Dravon Henry, who had a nice game gaining 123 yards on 22 carries and 2 touchdowns, plowed through the Wyomissing defense for a 10 yard score with 2:51 remaining in the half.  They couldn’t punch the 2 point conversion in but the Quips were seemingly in control gashing the Spartan defense with bruising runs.

Aliquippa had one other scoring opportunity in the first half when, on first and ten from their own 39, quarterback Malik Shegog burst up the middle for a 48   yard gain to the Spartan 13 with 1:28 remaining.  Will Kroppe tipped a potential touchdown away from the intended receiver on third and 12 and on 4th down Shegog came up short with a 7 yard run.  “We just didn’t overcome our own mistakes. We had opportunities but we just didn’t convert in the red zone”  said Aliquippa head coach Michael Zmijanac.

The second half started 180 degrees opposite the first.  On Aliquippa’s second play Joseph Cacchione recovered a fumble at the 38 yard line of Aliquippa.  Four plays later that’s when it happened.  History.  “I was just sitting on the bench waiting my time like I always do when I heard coach yell out my name.  I ran onto the field and just starting counting and I was like 52 yards, I can make this. I’m just honored coach had the confidence to call on me” said Bowman. It turned out to be the longest kick in PA state championship history, besting the previous record of 47 yards. With 9:48 remaining in the third Wyomissing had pulled within 4 points, the score 14-10.

It was here the Wyomissing defense started to step up.  “I told my boys at halftime they gotta pick me up, and they did” said Anzalone.  The Spartan defense got the ball back in the hands of their offense with 2:25 remaining in the third quarter and respond they did.  On 4 and about one inch at the Aliquippa 28 Anzalone punched the ball forward 2 yards giving his team a key first down. Another big play, this one a 14 yard pass on third down to Gerald Burns kept the drive alive. Smith then burst loose to the right on the same play he scored with in the first quarter, this time for a 3 yard td run giving Wyomissing thier first lead of the game.

The Quips didn’t take the score lightly.  Shegog and Henry led them from their 38 to the Spartan 9 quickly and methodically but the wheels fell on following a holding call the a sack of Shegog by Reyes.

Wyomissing took over on downs and chewed up 5 minutes driving to the Aliquippa 36 with 3:27 remaining in the game.  The drive stalled but the Spartan defense came up big stopping the Quips on four plays.  Aliquippa’s last chance was a hailmary with 52 seconds reaming, but a huge hit on backup quarterback Darrein Fields forced the pass to sail into the hands of Kroppe.

“I hope this feeling never goes away, I’ve never felt anything like this. It’s unique. I’m SO proud of this team” said Wolfrum.

“They were really taking it to us on the line, we had to just suck it up and play better” said senior lineman Jeriko Reyes.

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