Wolfley, Mustangs roll in 1st victory
MIDDLEBURG–In its first few weeks in the Pennsylvania Heartland Conference, Midd-West took its lumps.
The Mustangs (1-5) endured a tough stretch of agonizing defeats but on Friday night it was finally Midd-West’s time to turn the tide. Hunter Wolfley unleashed another monster game, rushing for 248 yards on 32 carries and two scores to lift Midd-West by Hughesville, 31-20, at Sports Booster Athletic Park.
Wolfley also became the first player to record a 1,000-yard rushing season at Midd-West High School in the victory.
Midd-West coach Brad Hatter was elated with the effort of his team and it’s ability to overcome difficult circumstances in the opening weeks.
“These boys did not quit on us,” Hatter said. “We’ve asked them to keep working and keep persevering and they did that. Fortunately tonight we were able to make enough plays to come out on top. Our defense played really well. We haven’t seen the Winged T yet this season and had a good week of preparation for it. I thought we played well for the most part. We will take a W. Any time you can get one in football it’s a really good feeling.”
The Midd-West defense came up with multiple stops in the game and the turnover battle proved to be pivotal, as the Mustangs recovered three fumbles and recorded four sacks in the victory.
The Mustangs were winning up front on both sides of the ball all evening and constantly turned the Spartans’ turnovers into points.
“They were timely,” Hatter said. “We were able to get some turnovers and should have had a pick that would have ended a threat before it got to this point, but we needed this. We didn’t turn the ball over on offense — the last few weeks that is what we had done. We preach taking care of the football and then getting our own opportunities. Tonight we were able to do that and we took advantage of some things. I’m proud of our guys and our coaches who come in and work hard regardless of what our record is. The hard work paid off tonight.”
After a feeling-out process that lasted the entire first quarter, Midd-West needed little time to get on the board in the second.
Midd-West’s Ryan Hartman recovered a fumble on the Hughesville 24-yard line with 4:38 left in the first quarter and the Mustangs turned the drive into points as Trey Lauver bruised his way through the pile for a 2-yard plunge to give Midd-West a 7-0 lead with 11:56 left in the opening half.
Hughesville (1-5) answered on the ensuing drive as a 51-yard reception by Brenden Knight got the Spartans deep into Midd-West territory. Knight capped the drive with a 4-yard scamper by Knight, but a fake on the PAT failed to keep Midd-West in front, 7-6.
Wolfley took over from there, as the Mustangs fed their workhorse, who rewarded Midd-West with a 50-yard rushing touchdown that gave him the first 1,000-yard season in school history.
The Spartans once again answered as quarterback Joseph Swink drove the offense straight down the field with a few chunk plays in the passing game to Justin Fowler and Swank. Swank capped the drive with a 3-yard touchdown run with 2:55 left in the half. Swink connected with Fowler once again for a 2-point conversion to make it 14 all at halftime.
Midd-West controlled things in the second half and used a strong rushing attack led by Wolfley and Lauver, as Wolfley added his second TD on a 14-yard run to give Midd-West a 21-14 advantage with 8:11 left in the third, converting once again off a Spartans turnover. Hughesville’s Swink fumbled while trying to escape the grasp of a few Mustangs defenders.
“To finally come through and make those plays on defense –we forced some turnovers tonight and coming off of that,” Wolfley said. “It’s been close these last few weeks and to finally pull ahead just feels good. The support we have even with the regulations and when our defense does something like that, it’s just a whole different environment and the adrenaline is there.”
Neither team could get things moving offensively from there until the fourth quarter, where Midd-West’s Eli Swan and Christian Regester formed a strong connection, as the two hooked up for four passes on the same drive. Swan capped it off with a 17-yard TD on fourth down that proved to be a back-breaking blow for Hughesville.
“We need that,” Hatter said. “When you have a back like 25 — Hughesville did a great job of loading the box and it’s hard to stop him — but they did a good job of trying to contain some things at the outset. We need to get that passing game going to open up the run even more.”
Hatter heaped praises on his star running back after the game and presented Wolfley with the game ball after reaching the 1,000-yard milestone.
“He deserves it and he deserves the result that we got tonight too,” Hatter said. “He just comes to work every day and battles through injury. I guarantee that kid is hurting but he just comes to work and battles. He leads by example that way. We’re just thankful every day that he is on our team and for what he brings to our program. He can really change the game.”
It was a goal that Wolfley had in mind entering the season, although not even he could have predicted the way his last two weeks have gone as the senior has rushed for 700 yards and seven scores in his past two games.
“It feels great. We’ve only had the program for three years but it is an accomplishment,” Wolfley said. “I had the goal to do it last year and I didn’t quite get there which was disappointing but it feels good to get there through six games.”
Hatter believes the difference has been in a change he’s seen out of the line in recent weeks.
“Our line has really stepped it up the last few weeks in practice and they have gotten some confidence I think too,” Hatter said. “When we’ve got the run game moving along that helps the rest of our offense. They just are playing with a lot of confidence and it has shown in how we have been able to run the ball and just how much more efficient we have been on offense.”
Midd-West hopes to carry some momentum when it travels to Bloomsburg next week.
“We have a lot of heart,” Wolfley said. “Coming back after the scores of our first three or four games and just sticking with the season shows a lot. Those couple plays, just those three-five plays we need to take advantage of and we did that tonight.”
Midd-West 31, Hughesville 20
SCORE BY QUARTERS
Midd-West 0 14 7 10–31
Hughesville 0 14 0 6–20
MW– Trey Lauver 2 run (Rylan Portzline kick) 11:56
H– Brenden Knight 4 run (Joseph Swink pass failed) 8:13
MW– Hunter Wolfley 50 run (Portzline kick) 5:34
H– Devin Swank 3 run (Justin Fowler pass from Swink) 2:55
MW– Wolfley 14 run (Portzline kick) 8:11
MW–Eli Swan 17 pass from Christian Regester (Portzline kick) 10:42
MW–Rylan Portzline 26 field goal, 8:01
H–Swink 4 run (Cassandra Heiney failed) 5:09
First downs 16 12
Total yards 348 335
Rushes-yards 46-279 18-105
Yards passing 69 164
Passing (comp.-att.-int.) 6-14-1 10-19-0 230
Punts-avg. 2-36.5 2-29.5
Fumbles-lost 0-0 3-3
Penalties-yards 4-45 3-30
RUSHING: MW–Hunter Wolfley 32-248 2 TD, Trey Lauver 9-38 TD, Christian Regester 5-(-7); H–Devin Swank 8-83 TD, Colton Yocum 6-10, Michael Dylina 2-8, Brenden Knight 1-4 TD, John Finnegan 1-0.
PASSING: MW–Christian Regester 6-14-1 69 TD; H–Joseph Swink 10-19-0 230.
RECEIVING: MW–Eli Swan 6-69 TD; H–Devin Swank 5-142, Brenden Knight 1-51, Justin Fowler 3-45, John Finnegan 1-2.