Story and photo courtesy of Widener Athletics
No. 14 Widener’s unbelievable run of comebacks continued as sophomore Anthony Davis (Upland, PA) hauled in a 34-yard touchdown pass from senior Chris Haupt (Bloomsburg, PA) with 17 seconds to play for a thrilling 28-23 Middle Atlantic Conference victory over Lycoming in Williamsport, Pa.
Widener took a 7-0 lead with 6:42 left in the first quarter when Haupt found sophomore Couve LaFate (Wilmington, DE) on a 14-yard touchdown pass. The drive would not have continued if not for a great sliding catch by freshman Connor Schlegel (Denver, PA) on fourth down and five to the Warriors 39 yard line.
Lycoming drove to the Widener six yard line where it had first down and goal before the defense took over. Two runs into the line and an incomplete pass set up a 20-yard field goal attempt by Zach Czap, but sophomore Ameer Sorrell (Port Norris, NJ) came off the edge and with a clean block it to end the drive.
The Warriors changed the momentum in the second quarter when Tanner Trouthman intercepted Haupt over the middle and ran 45 yards down the right sideline to the one yard line. The home team capitalized on the next play when Tyler Jenny hit Wes Strayer on a touchdown pass with 6:06 left for a 7-7 tie.
Lycoming then took its first lead with 37 seconds left in the half on a drive in which it converted two fourth downs. It scored in a wildcat formation as Matt Atkinson took the snap and ran six yards inside the left pylon for a 14-7 contest.
Widener’s offense got on track in the second half by using an effective 11-play, 66-yard drive to level the score at 14. Haupt was 7-for-7 on the drive for 59 yards, which culminated on an eight-yard scoring pass to Schlegel with 6:45 to go in the third quarter.
The Warriors got a huge break when LaFate fumbled and it was recovered by Cody Butler at the visitors 20 yard line. They were stopped at the one before Czap booted a 19-yard field goal on the first play of the fourth quarter for a 17-14 lead.
Another break occurred when Kabongo Bukasa intercepted Haupt at the Lycoming 48 yard line. On the drive’s first play, a flea flicker resulted in a 41-yard pass from Jenny to Jarrin Campman at the 11 yard line. Four plays later, Parker Showers dove up the middle and his second effort got him a one-yard touchdown with 9:21 left. Sorrell got another block as he deflected the extra point for a 23-14 game.
Widener did not panic as a 13-play, 94-yard drive ensued which included a huge 33-yard pass from Haupt to senior Steve Marrero (Reading, PA) and a 38-yard toss on third down and 21 to Schlegel to the Warriors six yard line.
Haupt ended the drive on a six-yard touchdown pass to LaFate for a 23-21 deficit to 4:27 remaining.
The Pride’s defense then forced the Warriors to punt the ball and took over at their 22 yard line with 1:26 left. The visitors came through in the clutch again on third and 22 as Haupt found Marrero on a 40-yard pass over the middle to midfield.
The third-down magic continued with the ball still at midfield when Davis made a leaping 16-yard catch to the 34-yard line. Two plays later, Haupt found Davis on a slant and he walked into the end zone for a 28-23 contest.
Lycoming got the ball to Widener’s 41 yard line with two seconds left before senior Chad Gravinese (Mullica Hill, NJ) forced Jenny to fumble for the final.
The win gives Widener (7-0, 6-0 MAC) sole possession of first place in the league from Lycoming (5-2, 5-1) and its eighth straight victory dating to last season. It was the Pride’s second remarkable comeback this season, just three weeks after their stunning 40-37 overtime triumph at Lebanon Valley.
Haupt completed 34-of-55 passes for 395 yards and four touchdowns to become Widener’s career leader in passing yards. His 8,361 career yards surpasses the 8,163 achieved by Mike Lomas from 2002-05.
Davis had six catches for 97 yards for the Pride, who overcame seven turnovers by converting 8-of-14 third-down conversions and got 489 yards of total offense.
Senior Joe Wojceichowski (Riverside, NJ) had a game on defense with 15 tackles and junior Dylan Ditmer (Exton, PA) amassed eight for the Pride, who limited the Warriors to 3-of-14 on third-down conversions.
Jenny completed 18-of-30 passes for 202 yards for the Warriors, who totaled 320 yards on offense.
Widener is home next Saturday against Albright, beginning at 1:00 pm.