Of all the touchdown passes Tyrone quarterback Leonard Wilson has thrown in his three-year varsity career, few were prettier than the 64-yard strike he had to Shane Barr in the third quarter of last night’s 39-7 drubbing of Philipsburg-Osceola at Gray Veterans Memorial Field.
With the Mounties cramming close to the line of scrimmage, Barr shook his man on a post route, and Wilson threw a 20-yard pass that had just enough touch to clear the defender and just enough zip to hit his streaking receiver in perfect stride.
Like most of the pieces of Wilson’s career, the pass was just right, and fittingly enough, it was the one that put him ahead of Jarrod Anderson on Tyrone’s career touchdown passes list with 28.
Wilson finished the game completing 11 of 12 passes, connecting on 11 in a row after misfiring on his first toss of the game. His season-high 141 yards gave him 630 for the season, and left him on the doorstep of another Golden Eagle milestone, just 137 yards shy of Tyrone’s career passing yardage mark.
“I’ve always had great coaching and a great team around me,” said the soft-spoken Wilson. “Those things have helped me the whole way.”
“Jarrod Anderson is one of the great quarterbacks not just in the history of Tyrone, but in the area,” said Golden Eagle coach John Franco, who won two District championships with Anderson starting in the mid-1990s. “There are not many quarterbacks that can accomplish what he did, so for Leonard to surpass him really says something about Leonard. He’s a heck of a kid and he’s been a great leader for us.”
But while Wilson’s performance drew praise from his coach and an ovation from the standing room only crowd, it was only a piece of the Golden Eagles’ trimming of the Mounties, which allowed Tyrone to start the season 5-0 (3-0 MAC Nittany Division) for the first time since 1999.
On the one hand, Tyrone moved the ball at will and controlled the clock, despite playing without two injured starters on its offensive line. The Golden Eagles outgained P-O 390-156 and had possession for 16 of the first 24 minutes. Two Eagles rushers had over 80 yards and four of the team’s scores came on running plays.
But on the other hand, the Mounties (1-4, 0-2) once again shot themselves in the foot with untimely penalties and critical turnovers. P-O extended Tyrone’s first scoring drive with a pass interference penalty on a third-and-15 play, and coughed the ball up three times, with two leading directly to touchdowns, while another snuffed out a drive that had reached the T-7.
“Key penalties, and a couple key turnovers,” said Mountie coach Jeff Vroman. “It’s been the same thing in all four of our losses. We knew what they were going to do. That wasn’t a surprise.”
What may have been a little surprising was the variety of ways Tyrone was able to crack a P-O defense that was among the best in the Nittany Division despite its sub-.500 record. The Eagles did it with grind-it-out drives starting deep in their own territory, and they did it as well with quick-strike attacks, scoring three times on drives of three plays or less.
“We knew they were very strong against the run and that we couldn’t just come out and run against them,” Franco said. “I thought we varied our offense pretty well tonight. We tried not to get into a rut, and we also got the ball to some big play kids and they made the plays.”
The Eagles’ first scoring drive came on their second series of the game and it consumed most of the first quarter. In 13 plays – aided by the interference call – Tyrone moved the ball from its own 11 to paydirt, mixing its intermediate passing game with the right combination of option and off-tackle running plays. Senior Brinton Mingle rambled for 41 of his 87 yards on the drive, while Wilson hit Morrow three times for 27 yards.
The series ended when Wilson rolled left on a designed quarterback sweep, broke containment and sprinted into the end zone with a 13-yard touchdown. Buddy Stotler’s kick made it 7-0 with 35 seconds left in the first quarter.
P-O ran four plays and punted on the ensuing possession, and Tyrone took over with a short field at the Mountie 32. Six plays later, Mingle barreled in from three yards out to put the Eagles ahead 13-0 with 7:04 to go until halftime.
Another three-play series put Tyrone back in business at its own 47. Wilson completed passes to Tyler Gillmen and Barr on three of the Eagles’ next five plays, Mingle gained 14 on another successful option play, and sophomore Johnny Franco caught an eight-yard pass with 1:42 left in the half to send Tyrone into the locker room with a 20-0 lead.
“We didn’t cover some things well,” said Vroman “They made the throws, (although) we made them easier than they probably should have been. We didn’t get a lot of pressure on their quarterback, and you have to do that. That’s the bottom line.”
On the Mounties’ third play out of the locker room, quarterback A.J. Czap had his first pass attempt intercepted by Wilson at the T-47, and returned all the way to the P-O-11. Three plays later, Mingle blasted in from the 1-yard line to put Tyrone ahead 26-0.
P-O responded with a touchdown on a 53-yard drive that was sparked by a 38-yard run by Czap that took the ball to the T-11. Ryan Marcinko eventually scored from three yards out, and his kick made it 26-7, but any hopes of a P-O rally were short-lived.
Tyrone’s very next drive resulted in Wilson’s record-breaking pass to Barr to make it 32-7 with 3:34 left in the third quarter. The Mounties fumbled the ball on their next possession, and Gillmen followed the turnover with a 73-yard highlight-reel run for a touchdown on the very next play from scrimmage.
On the play, Gillmen headed first off tackle going right, but he was nearly wrapped and taken for a loss. He stopped on a dime, broke the grasp of his would-be tackler, and then broke left and up the middle. By the time he hit the sideline, there were no tacklers within five yards of him.
“This was a struggle. It wasn’t easy,” said Franco. “I think the last couple of weeks threw us for a loop. It took us a little bit to get back into things against a good defensive team. Once we did, we woke up a little bit, and we blocked a lot better after our first series.”
GRID TIDBITS: P-O’s 136 rushing yards were the most allowed by Tyrone this season … Mingle and Franco have scored a touchdown in all of Tyrone’s games … Barr finished with three receptions for a career high 72 yards … Wilson now has four interceptions this season … the Eagles stopped eight Mountie plays behind the line of scrimmage, including sacks by James Updike and Franco … Franco and Matthew Lauder also recovered fumbles … Tyrone hosts undefeated Bellefonte next week in its Homecoming game … P-O travels to Bellwood-Antis.
Tyrone 39 Philipsburg-Osceola
Tyrone 7 13 19 0 – 39
Philipsburg-Osceola 0 0 7 0 – 7
T – Wilson 13 run (Stotler kick) :35
T – Mingle 3 run (PAT failed) 7:04
T – Franco 8 pass from Wilson (Stotler kick) 1:42
T – Mingle 1 run (PAT failed) 7:33
PO – Marcinko 2 run (Marcinko kick) 4:29
T – Barr 64 pass from Wilson (PAT failed) 3:34
T – Gillmen 73 run (Gillmen kick) :6.6
First Downs 17 9
Yards Rushing 249 136
Pass Att.-Comp. 11-12 2-7
Pass Yards 141 20
Total Yards 390 156
Fumbles/Lost 0-0 2-2
Interceptions Thrown 0 1
Penalties/Yards 4-32 5-35
Punts/Avg. 1-25 3-35.6
Tyrone – Mingle 17-87; Gillmen 2-80; Williams 4-34; Leader 6-26; Franco 2-10; Golden 1-8; Wilson 2-4.
Philipsburg-Osceola – Marcinko 9-54; Czap 13-41; Davis 7-25; Harris 2-8; Rocco 1-8.
Tyrone – Wilson 11-12-141, 2 TD, 0 Int.
Philipsburg-Osceola – Czap 2-7-20, 0 TD, 1 Int.
Tyrone – Barr 3-72; Morrow 3-27; Gillmen 3-23; Brockett 1-11; Franco 1-8.
Philipsburg-Osceola – Davis 2-20.