SLIPPERY ROCK—Big plays are the mark of a champion.

On Saturday, Reynolds made them and Wilmington did not.

The Raiders tallied a touchdown in each element en route to a 21-0 victory over the Greyhounds in the District 10 Class AA football championship at Slippery Rock University. The victors tallied one touchdown each on offense, defense and special teams in recording their first District 10 championship since 1989.

“I think their defense is really that good,” Wilmington coach Terry Verrelli said. “They move very well.

“You have to block them and that’s tough to do. You can’t let them get any easy ones and we gave up a couple.”

Reynolds (10-2) will meet Brockway, a 22-20 winner in the District 9 championship over Moniteau, at a time, date and site to be determined by the PIAA. Wilmington closes its solid season at 9-2.

The Greyhounds won the Region 3-AA contest in the regular season between the squads at Reynolds, 16-7.

“We knew we could play with them,” Raiders coach Tim Scarvel said. “We thought we were physically stronger than them on both sides of the line of scrimmage and we tried to capitalize on that and play physical football.”

The Raiders didn’t waste any time, winning the coin toss and electing to receive. Corey Brown hauled in the opening kickoff and raced 89 yards for a touchdown and a quick 7-0 advantage just 14 seconds into the game.

“I’ve been begging for a kickoff return all year long and that was just a huge boost of momentum for us and that really set the tone for the whole game,” Scarvel said.

“Getting down was the key,” Verrelli said. “Reynolds is a strong team and they are a tough team to play from behind.”

Wilmington penetrated as deep as Reynolds’ 44 on its first possession before it ended in a punt. The Raiders wasted little time in taking command of the game following the punt.

On the fourth play of the drive, Reynolds’ Jake McBride breezed through the secondary for a 68-yard run and a 14-0 lead with 8:11 left in the opening quarter.

“We knew it would be difficult moving the ball on them,” Verrelli said. “Being down 14-0, that was the real part that killed us.

“You want to start the game and play defense and find out if you will be able to play defense the way you want. Instead, we start out down by 14 right off the bat. It was a difficult situation against a real good team.”

The Greyhounds had great field position throughout the first half but couldn’t get anything going. Their average starting point in the first 24 minutes was at their own 49.

Wilmington had two consecutive possessions that began on the Raiders’ 42. The first resulted in a three-and-out after netting just two yards early in the second quarter. With 8:14 to go in the opening half, the Greyhounds took over again at the Reynolds 42 and got as deep as its 13.

After losing three yards on third down, Wilmington elected to try a 33-yard field goal but Nick Riggall’s attempt was blocked, preserving the Raiders’ 14-0 lead.

Reynolds tried to keep the Greyhounds in the game by fumbling on its own 25 on the ensuing possession but on fourth-and-nine from the Raiders’ 24, quarterback Jake Reiber’s aerial fell incomplete in the end zone with less than 30 seconds to go in the first half.

“If it’s 0-0 and we aren’t converting those chances, it’s not as big of a deal,” Verrelli said. “But down 14 that was a problem.”

The Raiders delivered the knockout blow in the fourth quarter. The Greyhounds started at their own 5 after a punt and Reiber’s pass was tipped at the line. McBride hauled in the batted ball for a five-yard interception return and took it in for a score and a 21-0 lead with 9:47 to go.

The second half was a defensive struggle, as three of the five total turnovers occurred in the final 24 minutes. In addition, each team combined for just 143 total yards.


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