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Winning Smiles

Democrat Photo by Rob Potter

ELDRED COACH FRANK Kean presented an official Eldred Yellowjackets football hat to the team’s number one fan, Richie Ranne. Pictured with them is Richie’s mother, Teri Ranne.

Eldred Takes on Hancock

By Rob Potter
ELDRED — September 6, 2005 – When the Eldred Yellowjackets and the Hancock Wildcats played a non-league football game in September 2004, the Yellowjacket offense only scored one touchdown as the Wildcats recorded a 14-7 victory.
But in Friday night’s 2005 season opener for both teams, Eldred needed less than three minutes to exceed its point total from last year’s contest.
After the opening kickoff, Hancock had a first-and-10 from its own 5-yard line. Quarterback Chris Hallstead attempted to pitch the football to tailback Aaron Gorshack, but the ball hit the turf and bounced backwards. Eldred linebacker Nick Simonelli quickly covered the pigskin in the end zone for a touchdown.
The subsequent 2-point conversion was unsuccessful, but with only 11 seconds elapsed in the contest, the Yellowjackets had a 6-0 lead.
Eldred (1-0) added to its advantage two minutes later. After forcing the Wildcats to punt, the Yellowjackets took possession of the ball on the Hancock 29-yard line. Four plays later, Patrick Kean scored on a 2-yard run to give Eldred a 12-0 lead with 9:46 left in the opening quarter.
The Yellowjackets were just getting started however. With a balanced rushing attack and good special teams play, Eldred scored six more TDs to crush the Wildcats, 54-8.
Kean added a 1-yard touchdown run with 3:36 left in the second quarter to give the Yellowjackets an 18-0 advantage at halftime.
After recovering an onsides kick at the beginning of the third quarter, Eldred put together a seven-play, 50-yard touchdown drive to take a 24-0 lead.
But Hancock (0-1) grabbed some momentum on the subsequent kickoff. Gorshack fielded the kick at his own 12-yard line and quickly moved up the left sideline. After dodging a couple of would be tacklers, Gorshack broke into the open field. As he neared the goal line, it looked as though an Eldred player would catch him from behind, but Dan Petersen made an outstanding block on that Yellowjacket to clear Gorshack’s path to paydirt.
Hallstead then connected with Eric Petersen on a 2-point pass to bring the Wildcats to within 24-8.
But that was as close as Hancock would be the rest of the evening.
Eldred answered the Wildcats’ TD with a seven-play scoring drive. On a first-and-goal play at the 1-yard line, Yellowjacket offensive tackle George Fountain lined up in the backfield at fullback. He took the handoff from quarterback Nick McCormick and plunged into the end zone. McCormick then threw the 2-point conversion pass to Counts, which made it a 32-8 ballgame.
McCormick scored a touchdown of his own with just over one minute left in the third quarter.
Eldred scored its final two touchdowns within a five-second span midway through the fourth quarter. Kevin Prunka scored on a 12-yard run with 7:11 left in the game. Nick Proscia recovered a fumble on the ensuing kickoff and ran into the end zone with 7:06 displayed on the scoreboard clock.
“What really screwed us up was the fumble on the first play of the game,” Hancock Coach Walt Smith said. “That put us in a real hole, because 11 seconds into the game they were up 6-0. I don’t think we ever recovered from that.”
Smith praised Eldred for its performance.
“They are a well-coached team and they have a lot of experienced players,” he said.
Counts led the Eldred offense with 139 yards on 22 carries. Kean ran the ball 10 times for 59 yards and McCormick rushed for 44 yards on nine carries.
McCormick completed 4-of-7 passes for 77 yards, including a 44-yard completion to J.T. Vogt.
Like Smith, Eldred Coach Frank Kean believed that the first Yellowjackets TD was a key play in the game.
“They never recovered from that,” Kean said. “It was a big play for us.
“I think we took advantage of our size tonight,” he added. “We were able to beat them on the line.”
Kean noted that other important factors in his team’s victory were the two first half touchdowns by his son Patrick and the running by Counts.
“Another key for us was when they scored that touchdown on the kickoff return, we came right back and scored,” the veteran coach said. “In the past, if a team scored on a big play like that, we would get down. But tonight, our players weren’t disappointed – they just went right out and got a touchdown. I think that’s a sign of our team’s maturity.”

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