HARRISBURG – The winner of Friday’s Waynesboro-Susquehanna Township varsity football game got its record to .500, and the nod went to the home team.
Susquehanna Township used a bruising and flashy running attack and a still-struggling Waynesboro offense to the tune of a 23-0 victory in a Mid-Penn Colonial Division contest at Roscoe Warner Field.
The Warriors improved to 3-3 overall (one of the wins was a forfeiture against Middletown, which cancelled the 2022 season).
Now, Waynesboro will try to regroup and get ready for a Homecoming game against Gettysburg next Friday.
Both teams were trying to not only beat each other, but also the weather. Remnants of Hurricane Ian were forecast to drop rain starting Friday night and through the weekend. By game’s end, drips of rain fell from the sky but no downpour.
“They had a lot of penalties, and some of the breaks we did have we weren’t able to capitalize on – dropped pass, Jaylon (Bean) threw a couple of nice passes that were dropped,” said Waynesboro head coach Josh Sprenkle. “They did a good job defensively of bottling Mikel (Holden) up; he didn’t have any breakout runs like he’s had in the past.”
Waynesboro’s defense held its own all game long, and the Warriors offense hurt themselves with holding penalties that nullified long gainers and halted momentum that could have led to even more points.
Still, without a better showing when it has the ball, Waynesboro (2-4, 1-2 MPC) has been left with not much recourse but to rely on the defense to keep scores down.
It did so in a 17-0 loss to Chambersburg. It also contained Northern York’s vaunted running game and gave the offense a chance to rally for a morale-boosting 13-10 win last Saturday at Buchanan Automotive Stadium.
Hanna, as it is affectionately called in Warrior Country, took its opening possession all the way down the field after Waynesboro went three-and-out on the game’s first offensive series.
Using a running back by committee, the Warriors marched 73 yards on nine plays. Siroun Tilman bulled his way in from two yards out for the only points Township needed.
Waynesboro tried to get something going on offense on its next possession. Mikel Holden picked up the team’s initial first down on a 10-yard run, and he also ran for eight yards to move the chains again at Waynesboro’s 43-yard line.
The drive stalled, and the Tribe punted.
The Warriors made it feel like Groundhog Day as they used its high-octane running game to maneuver 92 yards on 11 plays. They overcame two holding plays, one of which nullified a touchdown. Aubrey Carter scored on a 1-yard run to make the score 14-0 after Ryan Nickle’s second extra-point kick with 9:06 left in the second quarter.
Waynesboro again failed to muster a first down on its third time on the field and had to punt.
This time, the Indians held the Warriors to a three-and-out with team tackling. Bryan Benedict led the way on a tackle on first down, and following an incomplete pass, Owen Long and Parker Hull brought down Tilman for no gain to force Susquehanna Township into a punting situation.
Nickle booted a 32-yard field goal to increase the score to 17-0 midway through the third period, and Dorian Smith ran five yards for a score with 1:14 left in the third quarter to make it 23-0 before a failed two-point conversion pass.
Waynesboro’s best scoring chance of the first half came with time running out. Quarterback Jaylon Bean and Holden combined on a 12-yard gain on a third-down pass play to advance the ball to the Warriors’ 42-yard line.
Bean ran 11 yards on a fake punt to the 31, but the drive ended on a fourth-down incomplete pass.
Sprenkle maintained a bit of perspective on the game.
“Part of it is we lost Cody Tharp and Robert Howard for this game because they both suffered mild concussions last week,” said Sprenkle. “Cody is a starting senior captain; Robert is a junior two-way starter. So, we had some younger guys filling in. It took some of the chemistry away from the team when you’re missing key guys like that.
“We didn’t come out with the energy needed to make their skill sets.”