By Lynn Saternow
Herald Sports Editor
SLIPPERY ROCK — They say that “Familiarity breeds contempt.” You can bet the Northwestern Wildcats are feeling a bit of the latter for the Hickory Hornets!
For a third straight season Hickory eliminated the northerners from the District 10 Class AA playoffs, this time by a 52-14 score in the semifinals Saturday night at Slippery Rock University’s Thompson-Mihalik Stadium.
The last two seasons, Hickory ousted the Wildcats in the opening round en route to winning consecutive D-10 titles. While it came one game later in 2013, it no doubt hurts just as much for the Region 3 champions.
“The big boys up front did the job and it let the others take care of business,”said a happy Hornets coach Bill Brest. “And that’s why we’re going back to the D-10 finals for a fourth straight year.
“We knew they had a great running back, but the kids read their keys well. They prepared well this past week. And the quarterback can give you trouble if he can get outside. Zack Cirillo and Jordan Wombacker really handled that well.”
Friday, it took Hickory only 17 seconds to get on the scoreboard. Anthony Cannone picked up a squib kick to open the game, dodged tacklers, picked up blockers and returned the ball 65 yards to paydirt. Jordan Wombacker converted on his first of 7 PAT kicks.
Later in the period, Hickory took over on their own 11-yard line. On the first play from scrimmage, Matt Voytik dropped back and fired the ball downfield to Andrew Pryts and Pryts did the rest, outdistancing the NW d-backs en route to finishing off an 89-yard TD play for a 14-0 lead. It was Voytik’s 24th touchdown pass of the season.
Early in the second frame, Hickory moved out to a 21-0 lead on a 9-yard run by Pryts. It was only a 2-play drive as Lou Derloni ripped off a 29-yard run the play before and a face mask penalty moved the ball to the 9.
The Hornets expanded the margin to 24 when kicker Wombacker connected on a 35-yard field goal, a margin that lasted until halftime.
In the first half, Hickory rolled up 198 total yards to only 37 for the Wildcats.
It didn’t take long after intermission to widen the lead. Voytik connected with Michael Steach on a 15-yard scoring aerial for a 31-0 front with 9:15 remaining in the third quarter.
With 3:52 left in the period, Derloni scored on a 2-yard burst and Hickory led 38-0 to put the mercy rule into effect. But the point production wasn’t over yet.
Early in the final frame, DeQuan Lewis roared around right end and raced 63 yards for a score, giving him 106 yards on only 2 carries.
Northwestern did get on the board a short time later when Brandon Reiser exploded for a 75-yard run. Nathan Tewell kicked the PAT.
But the scoring continued even more when Hickory’s Charles Carr scored from 34 yards out.
The Wildcats closed out the scoring with Reiser scoring from the 1 and Tewell kicking the PAT.
Hickory had six people score which is the way Coach Brest likes it. “We run and throw where they aren’t,” said Brest about going to people who are open. Of course giving him time up front were linemen Dylan Brenneman, Nate Aikins, Blasé Hudson, Austin Aikins, Anthony Nardone and Cirillo.
The Hornets will face Girard in the D-10 finals next weekend at a site and time to be announced.
DISTRICT 10 CLASS AA
N’WESTERN 0 0 0 14 14
HICKORY 14 10 14 14 52
H — A. Cannone, 65 kickoff return (Wombacker kick)
H — Pryts, 89 pass from Voytik (Wombacker kick)
H — Pryts, 9 run (Wombacker kick)
H — Wombacker, 35 FG
H — Steach, 15 pass from Voytik (Wombacker kick)
H — Derloni, 2 run (Wombacker kick)
H — Lewis, 63 run (Wombacker kick)
NW — Reiser, 75 run (Tewell kick)
H — Carr, 34 run (Wombacker kick)
NW — Reiser, 1 run (Tewell kick)
10 First downs 17
189 Rushing yards 259
12 Passing yards 126
4-2-0 Att-comp-int 12-8-0
210 Total yards 385
0-0 Fumbles-lost 1-1
9-53 Penalties-yards lost 8-65
Rushing: NORTHWESTERN — Reiser 30-168, Noe 9-63, Clinger 5-(-46), Friend 1-4; HICKORY — Derloni 9-121, Lewis 2-106, Voytik 3-10, Pryts 1-9, Carr 5-13.
Passing: NORTHWESTERN — Clinger 4-2-0-12; HICKORY — Voytik 12-8-0-111.
Receiving: NORTHWESTERN — Panko 1-12, Reiser 1-0; HICKORY — Pryts 3-108, Steach 1-15, DeJulia 1-2, Lewis 3-1.