Thu. Sep 21st, 2023

When Tyrone coach John Franco was developing the blueprint for the 2005 season, one of his first tasks, he said, was to identify leaders.
It was also one of his most difficult. His 12-player senior class made a strong unit that would follow orders to the end, but after playing behind the boisterous Class of 2004 for two seasons, it had never really needed to produce any overt leaders.
So last spring, Franco informed Leonard Wilson and Brinton Mingle – the two players returning with the most experience – that the job of vocal and emotional leader would be theirs. And it wouldn’t be easy, either, because, according to Franco, neither had ever been a vocal leader.
In that way, it was fitting when Mingle and Wilson were the biggest offensive catalysts in Tyrone’s 46-0 victory over Penns Valley last night at Gray Veterans Memorial Field – a win that secured the Golden Eagles’ first undefeated regular season since 1999.
Wilson threw for 200 yards and two touchdowns, Mingle ran for 93 and three touchdowns, and the Golden Eagles put the wraps on the ninth undefeated regular season in school history, and the fourth in Franco’s 11-year tenure at Tyrone.
“It’s a tribute to our great senior leaders, especially Leonard Wilson and Brit Mingle,” Franco said. “They had to fill that role because they were practically the only ones back (in their class) with any experience. They let everyone know that there is a tradition of playing for Tyrone and we’re not going to accept anything less.”
With Mingle and Wilson at the forefront, Tyrone leveled the Rams with its most thoroughly dominating performance of the season. The Eagles ran for 225 yards, passed for another 207, and limited Penns Valley to only 62 total yards and three first downs.
So convincing was Tyrone’s effort that the Rams managed only one first down over three-and-a-half quarters after striking for two on their first possession of the game.
“I didn’t want us to be sloppy and regress,” said Franco. “We can’t afford to regress because we’re trying to build to a playoff level.”
The Eagles did that and more, even after their starters were pulled at halftime. They had already assured themselves the top seed in next week’s District 5-6 AA playoffs, but the win allowed Tyrone to tie up some other loose ends, like securing the outright MAC Nittany Division championship with a 5-0 conference record.
Wilson’s 8-of-11 performance gave him 1,120 yards passing this season, and made him the first Tyrone quarterback to post three 1,000-yard passing seasons. Mingle’s total put him within 70 yards of 1,000 and allowed him to establish a new career high of 20 touchdowns in a season, topping his junior year total by two scores.
“Tyrone is just a very good football team,” said Valley coach Martin Tobias. “And they are truly a team. They don’t rely on just one individual.”
That much was evident from Tyrone’s seven scoring drives, when seven different players touched the football and five scored.
The backbreaker for the 2-7 Rams came over a four-minute span in the second quarter, and it showed just how explosive the Eagles’ offense can be when it gets rolling.
Following an Ethan Etters interception, Tyrone drove 25 yards to score on a 15-yard run by Mingle and go ahead 26-0 with 4:17 remaining in the half. After forcing the Rams to punt on their next series, Tyrone scored on a three-play drive lasting less than a minute to lead 33-0. The touchdown came when Wilson found a wide-open Trey Brockett behind the coverage for a 36-yard touchdown pass with 1:50 to go in the half.
Valley turned the ball over once more on the following series, this time on an interception by Shane Emigh, setting Tyrone up at its own 38. On the first play, Wilson threw a screen pass to Johnny Franco, who eluded one tackler by cutting back to the middle and then split two others by cutting back to the sideline on his way to a 62-yard touchdown.
Buddy Stotler’s third PAT kick made it 40-0, and the mercy rule kept the clock running for the rest of the game. In all, Tyrone scored three times on drives of three plays or less.
“We felt our offense had to be sharp, and it had to click at this point in the season,” said coach Franco.
The Eagles jumped in front of Penns Valley early, scoring on the third play of their first possession when Mingle broke free up the middle on a draw handoff, and then cut back off a fine open-field block by Shane Barr, to make it 6-0.
Valley drove 27 yards in eight plays on the ensuing series, but was unable to convert on third-and-short, and gave the ball back to Tyrone. It was one of only two Ram drives that lasted longer than three plays.
Tyrone made it 13-0 in the first quarter with a seven-play, 69-yard drive on their next possession. Wilson completed a 30-yard pass to Brockett to start the drive, and hooked up with Barr for gains of 12 and 16 before Mingle scored from the 1.
Early in the second quarter, a seven-yard run by Tyler Gillmen capped a five-play drive on the heels of an 11-yard Penns Valley punt, and lifted Tyrone to a 26-0 lead.
The Golden Eagles’ final score came on their first possession of the second half, when they moved the ball 80 yards in seven plays, including a 39-yard run down the sideline by Franco. Shayne Tate rushed for 21 yards on the series, including the final five, making it 46-0 with 3:39 to go in the quarter.
GRID TIDBITS: Of Valley’s 39 offensive plays, 17 went for zero or negative yards … Tyrone’s 432 yards of total offense was a season high, as was Wilson’s 200 yards passing … after completing his first two passes, Valley quarterback Matt Johnson finished 3-of-11 for 17 yards … running back Chris Korn, who had gained over 500 yards in his previous five games, was limited to 15 yards on 13 carries … Tyler Golden added an interception in the third quarter.
Tyrone 46 Penns Valley 0
TYRONE 13 27 6 0 – 46
PENNS VALLEY 0 0 0 0 – 7
First Quarter
T – Mingle 47 run (PAT failed) 10:43
T – Mingle 1 run (Stotler kick) 3:19
Second Quarter
T – Gillmen 7 run (PAT failed) 11:06
T – Mingle 15 run (PAT failed) 4:17
T – Brockett 36 pass from Wilson (Stotler kick) 1:50
T – Franco 62 pass from Wilson (Stotler kick) :33.1
Third Quarter
T – Tate 5 run (PAT failed) 3:39
First Downs 18 3
Yards Rushing 225 47
Pass Att.-Comp. 9-12 3-11
Pass Yards 207 17
Total Yards 432 62
Fumbles/Lost 1-0 0-0
Interceptions Thrown 0 3
Penalties/Yards 3-15 1-15
Punts/Avg. 1-59 5- 28.3
Tyrone – Mingle 9-93; Franco 4-41; Gillmen 4-26; M. Williams 7-26; Tate 5-24; Leader 10-15.
Penns Valley – Wingard 6-23; Korn 13-15; Corl 4-7; Johnson 5-2.
Tyrone – Wilson 8-11, 200 yds, 0 Int., 2 TDs.; Golden 1-1, 7 yards, 0 Int., 0 TDs.
Penns Valley – Johnson 3-11, 17 yds. 3 Int., 0 TDs.
Tyrone – Brockett 3-79; Franco 1-62; Barr 3-53; S. Emigh 1-7; Gillmen 1-6.
Penns Valley – Homan 1-9; Kieffer 1-8; Corl 1-(-2).

By Rick