WAYNESBORO – The Waynesboro Indians varsity football team scored 28 points in the first half. They scored three points in the second half.
Visiting Mechanicsburg enjoyed a prosperous passing game, especially in the second half. The Wildcats rallied from deficits of 28-14 and 31-21 to defeat Waynesboro, 35-31 Friday night in a Mid-Penn Colonial Division game at Buchanan Automotive Stadium on Senior Night.
The loss was especially tough to take for a Waynesboro team that looked like it was headed for its third win of the season. And it would have been a morale booster for the Tribe, which must play its final two games on the road against Shippensburg and East Pennsboro.
While Mechanicsburg couldn’t stop Waynesboro’s offense for most of the game, the Wildcats gained yards at will in the passing game. The quick screen pass was very effective, but so was the medium-range pass over the middle. Mechanicsburg quarterback Eli Reider, who for the most part didn’t pass under pressure most of the night, took advantage of ample time in the pocket to throw the ball.
Reider connected with Josh Smith for a 9-yard touchdown pass on the first possession of the second half. The Wildcats deferred to Waynesboro on the opening kickoff so they would get the ball to start the third quarter. The strategy paid off, but a pass interference kept the drive alive, and the ‘Cats scored six plays later on the 9-play, 56-yard drive.
Waynesboro needed to respond, and it did, though not with a touchdown. Andrew Soffe kicked a 39-yard field goal to make it a two-score game, 31-21 with 4:22 left to play in the third quarter.
The Indians got the ball back when Nathan Nolan intercepted a pass at the Waynesboro 16. The possession ended with a punt, and Mechanicsburg’s offense picked up where it left off on its previous possession.
Reider completed six passes on a scoring drive that culminated in a 12-yard touchdown to Smith midway through the fourth period. The extra point made it 31-28.
On what was a crucial offensive series for Waynesboro, the Indians moved the ball from their 35 to the Wildcats’ 42 before the drive stalled.
Mechanicsburg started from its 20 and 3:25 on the game clock to either tie the game or potentially win it.
Reider, who threw 36 passes in the game, completed a 24-yard pass to Drake Dawson for a first down at the 44. A 13-yarder to Smith was good for a first down at the Waynesboro 34. The big play of the drive was a 37-yard completion to Isaac Dollman that gave the Wildcats a first-and-goal at the two. Mechanicsburg scored on the next play.
Waynesboro (2-6) struck first, and after Mechanicsburg tied the game at 7, the Indians scored 21 of the next 28 points in the first half.
The Indians moved the ball 52 yards on five plays for their initial touchdown. Bryan “Tank” Benedict ran for 22 yards, Nolan – who picked off two passes in the game and was a factor in the offense – gained nine yards to the 15. Two plays later, Benedict covered the final 13 yards for the score.
The Wildcats needed just three plays to tie the game. Waynesboro, on the other hand, chewed up turf and clock on a scoring drive that covered 72 yards and took 12 plays. Quarterback Rayshawn Frazer-Hewitt ran for 12 yards and passed to Calvin Myers for 10 yards. Short gains on the next five plays, all on the ground, produced a first down at the Mechanicsburg 43. From there, Frazer-Hewitt connected with Nolan for a 22-yard play and found Benedict for six more yards to the 15.
Frazer-Hewitt ran for six yards and a facemask moved the ball to the four yard line. Frazer-Hewitt tossed a four-yard TD pass to Benedict at the 8:40 mark of the quarter, and Soffe’s extra point gave Waynesboro a 14-7 lead.
The Tribe defense held on the Wildcats next possession, thanks in part to three incomplete passes and a huge sack on third down at midfield. Andrew Florek and Nate Adkins combined to bring down Reider for a six-yard loss, and Mechanicsburg punted back to Waynesboro.
The Indians obliged, and Benedict helped as he carried the ball four times for 23 yards, including a 1-yard touchdown run. Nolan took off for 34 yards to the Mechanicsburg 15. Ethan Alldredge ran for seven yards to the eight, followed by a 7-yard run by Benedict and the touchdown, giving the Indians a 21-7 lead.
Nolan finished the game with 93 yards rushing and 51 yards receiving. Benedict rushed for 84 yards.
If you took a trip to the bathroom or looked down at your phone, you might have missed Mechanicsburg’s quick-strike touchdown pass from Reider to Smith that covered 63 yards and cut the deficit to 21-14.
Waynesboro, undeterred by the Wildcats’ resilience so far, matched Mechanicsburg’s score with a touchdown. On a possession highlighted by another Nolan big gainer, Frazer-Hewitt helped himself with a 12-yard scramble and scored from the one-yard line. Nolan reeled off a 34-yard run that gave the Tribe a first down at the Wildcats 27.