MCA halts skid
MOUNT CARMEL - Zach Wasilewski was nothing short of a one-man wrecking crew, rushing 12 times for 187 yards and three touchdowns in leading Mount Carmel Area to a convincing 34-14 victory over previously undefeated Central Columbia in Heartland Conference Division II action Friday night at the Silver Bowl.
The big numbers came mostly in the second half after the Tornadoes' coaching staff made adjustments.
"All the credit for this win goes to my coaching staff," Red Tornadoes' mentor Carmen DeFrancesco said. "They pointed out that we weren't getting the ball enough into Wasilewski's hands and so we made a few adjustments and we executed almost to perfection in as big of a must-win situation that we've faced in quite a while."
The Blue Jays (5-1) limited Wasilewski to just eight yards on six carries in the opening half as Central took advantage of quarterback Jordan Thivierge's 76-yard touchdown pass to Dylan Hine to grab a 7-0 lead in the opening quarter. The Red Tornadoes countered with a Corey Langton one-yard plunge to pull within 7-6 following a missed extra point.
It was all Mount Carmel in the second half as Wasilewski spearheaded the offense with his running and the defense was nothing short of spectacular, limiting the Central offense to minus-7 yards rushing for the game.
Wasilewski put the Red Tornadoes in front for good on the team's initial possession of the second half, carrying once from midfield for 30 yards to the 20 on a draw and then sweeping the left side of the line and breaking two tackles en route to a 20-yard touchdown run that gave the home team a 12-7 lead as the Blue Jays stopped the two-point conversion attempt.
The defense set up the next tally when Mike Gilger picked off Thivierge at the 42 and returned the ball for an apparent touchdown but a penalty put the ball back on the 20 where it took the Red Tornadoes just three plays to reach the end zone as Wasilewski carried once for nine yards and then broke through the middle again on another draw that increased the advantage to 20-7 following the 20-yard TD jaunt and run for the two-point conversion.
"All we did was split four people wide, pull a guard and had the tight end leading the play and Wasilewski did the rest," DeFRancesco said. "Central for some reason was not making the adjustment and we continued to run the play with obvious success."
Central's high-powered passing attack, which finished with 256 yards, had trouble putting together back-to-back completions as Thivierge spent most of the half running for his life and unable to get many non-pressured throws off when the Blue Jays needed a big first down as the Red Tornadoes front five on defense was strong, led by Bobby Beierschmitt, Eric Joraskie, Vinnie Candelora, Seth Nicola and Tyler Kwiatkowski created havoc the entire game.
The Red Tornadoes continued to put space between themselves and the Blue Jays in the final period when Wasilewski ran for a 57-yard touchdown, and after the defense held the Blue Jays on downs and gaining possession at the 19, Dan Lesko capped the scoring for the winners (3-3) on a one-yard scoring plunge.
Wasilewski finished with 195 yards rushing and helped pick up the absence of Luke Klingerman, who did not play, while completing seven passes for 83 yards, including four to Varano for 30 yards and Elijah Duran's 32-yard reception that set up the MCA first score in the game.
Thivierge completed 12 of 33 passes for 256 yards with Adam Novack catching six for 123 and a 43-yard touchdown.
"We finally played defense like we are capable of and shut down a pretty good team in Central," saikd DeFrancesco. "Our players do not quit and it was only a matter of buckling down and working hard on improving in those areas that hurt us the past three weeks."