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Chalker waits for fate

PV rallies in second half to knock off Wildcats

November 2, 2013
By KAYLA HANUSCHAK - Tribune Chronicle correspondent ( , Underthelights

SOUTHINGTON - Heading in to Friday night's game against Pymatuning Valley, the Chalker Wildcats, sitting on a 5-4 record, had one thing to do - win and get in the playoffs.

After Friday night's 28-21 loss to the Lakers, the Wildcats now have to sit back and wait.

"It was in our hands tonight and we didn't complete it," Chalker coach Ryan Slone said. "We just have to watch the scoreboard and hope a couple teams lose."

Article Photos

Tribune Chronicle / R. Michael Semple
Chalker’s Austin Casper, left, gets tackled in the backfield by Pymatuning Valley’s Collin Winkler (50) during third-quarter action.

With a 5-5 mark, the Wildcats mathematically still have a chance to get in. The Wildcats will find out their fates Sunday afternoon.

If Chalker would have played like they did in the first half, the Wildcats could be resting easy knowing they were safely playing in Week 11. In the first half, the Wildcats completely dominated the Lakers (5-5). On their first series of the game, it only took three carries for 70 yards from senior Brendan Baugher to put points on the scoreboard. His final run for that touchdown was for 46 yards.

By the end of the first half, the Wildcats were winning 21-6.

When the Lakers walked out of the locker room at halftime, not one person in the crowd could have predicted what would happen next. That same team that was losing so badly the first half, came out and scored three touchdowns during the final 24 minutes giving them the 28-21 lead they needed to conquer the Wildcats.

"It was our seniors," PV coach Neal Croston said. "We didn't do too many adjustments. We did a few things, but we just put it in our senior's hands. They did not want to come out and lose their last game."

With about 30 seconds left, Chalker had the ball and was moving down the field quickly, but sophomore Keegan Hoops intercepted senior quarterback Austin Casper's pass, giving the Lakers possession of the ball for the rest of regulation.

"That was great," Croston said. "We had a sophomore in there tonight. We had guys banged up from the last two weeks and that guy came on. Keegan Hoopes, he's a sophomore and has been improving all year, so it felt great."

On the very first series of the game, a 6-yard run from senior Quintin Ratliff earned the Lakers their first points on the night. He concluded the game with three touchdowns (two of them in the fourth quarter). He also caught eight passes for 51 yards and rushed for 38 yards.

"It was the last game of the season," Ratliff said. "The seniors mainly helped turn it around. The younger kids helped us out too. We just came out fired up and ready to go.

"It's all my team. Without my team I wouldn't be able to do any of it. I appreciate the four years that I had with those guys."

Baugher led his team in the scoring column, rushing for all three of Chalker's touchdowns. He ran the ball 13 times for 108 yards.

"That's just the way our kids respond," Slone said. "We have great kids. We have a great group of seniors leading, we have a great group of young guys playing and we knew after that drive what we could do against them. We did what we wanted to that first half. They didn't really make different adjustments in the second half. They didn't do anything different that we didn't see in the first half. We just have to have that aggressive attitude coming out of the second half like we do coming out the first half."

During the third quarter, the Lakers decided they wanted to win the game by air, racking up most of their 166 passing yards that quarter. With 7:35 left in the game, junior quarterback Travis Kiser stepped up his passing game, throwing a pass to junior receiver Nick Blascak for a 77-yard touchdown. Kiser also threw another touchdown pass to Ratliff with 6:23 left in the game.

"Good plays by our quarterback and guys making plays is what contributed for our passing yards," Croston said. "Our line really stepped up in the second half. That was the biggest thing."

Slone said his team has to play consistently for four quarters.

"We have to able to, as a program, finish games," Slone said. "That's one thing that we have preached all year is finishing football games. We came out lights-out first half and dominated the football game. We have to be able to smell victory and not play timid and not play to lose but play to win. That's a mindset we have to work on is play to win when you have the lead, don't play to lose because when you play to lose, you play timid."