HOMER CITY, Pa. – Greg Page earned his 99th win as a coach for Homer-Center (2-1) as his Wildcats pounced on the United Lions 46-0 in a Heritage Conference matchup at Memorial Field on Friday night.
The 2-1 Wildcats spread the love across the field all game, with five different players scoring touchdowns and eight making carries as Homer-Center stacked up 338 total rushing yards and 95 passing on the night.
“We got a new starting quarterback, and he’s really coming,” Page said of quarterback Cole McAnulty.
“He’s making strides each game, trying to make the right reads on the run game and the pass game. That can be tough when you have pressure coming at you.
Really when it came down to it, we got behind our line and our backs ran hard. It was a good combination.”
Homer-Center started the game with a nine-play drive that ended with 5-foot-9 junior McAnulty throwing a 44-yard pass downfield to senior wide receiver Anthony Rowland for the first touchdown of the night.
“We had a couple passes called back, but he’s made some good decisions,” Page said. “He’s got a great arm. He can lay it out to our guys, we got some guys who can go run under it. He made some good intermediate throws which is important because when people start sitting back and you can attack the underneath stuff.”
McAnulty completed nine of his 18 pass attempts for 95 yards and rushed for an additional 36. He could’ve had even more, but two touchdown throws – a 38-yard pass to Michael Krejocic and a 53-yard pass to Anthony Rowland – on a single drive in the second quarter were called back on penalties for holding and illegal formation.
“We were kind of down in the dumps for a few plays, but we fought back through it,” said McAnulty on the plays. “We ended up coming back out and scoring a couple more touchdowns, so we handled it pretty well.”
The Wildcats’ second touchdown came on a 21-yard run by 6-foot-1, 206-pound running back Landon Hill, while the third was a 5-yard run into the end zone by 5-foot-11 senior running back Collin Troup.
On special teams, junior Michael Krejocic scored on a 77-yard punt return in the second quarter to increase Homer-Center’s lead to 26-0.
A third touchdown was called back for Homer-Center after an illegal block in the back to start the second half.
That’s when Troup set to work.
“He’s really stepped it up this year,” Page said of Troup. “He got some time last year when Justin Walbeck was the feature back and got hurt. I kind of feel bad. Collin carries the ball downfield then we get into the red zone and he gets a little gassed because he’s a workhorse. We have guys we can go to with him and Walbeck and Landon Hill, who ran nice tonight, too. All three of them give you a different dimension, but he got the bulk of the carries and did a great job.”
Workhorse seems to be the perfect descriptor for Troup’s performance on Friday.
Troup carried the ball eight times in a row for 46 yards and the touchdown on a single drive that lasted nearly five minutes and gave the Wildcats a 32-0 lead.
United finished with 33 yards of total offense.
Troup, the Heritage’s leading rusher coming into the night, led Homer-Center with 122 rushing yards and two touchdowns on 18 carries. The senior now has 299 rushing yards and 4 touchdowns on the season.
“It’s determination,” said Troup on his work ethic. “If you want it bad enough, then you can get it no matter what’s on the other side of the ball.
Krejocic intercepted a pass from United’s Jacob Boring, in the third quarter, but Homer-Center was unable to take advantage and turned the ball over on downs.
Rowland added a second touchdown in the third quarter by squeezing through United’s defense and running 75 yards downfield on his only carry of the game. He also added 58 receiving yards on three catches.
Up 38-0, the Wildcats put in 6-foot-2 freshman Angelo Alexander at quarterback, and he delivered.
Alexander faked the handoff to fellow freshman Isaiah McCracken and took off down the left sideline for a 45-yard touchdown sprint. Freshman running back Braden Dunn secured the two-point conversion and sealed the Wildcats’ victory at 46-0.
“Our young guys, particularly our freshmen and sophomores, come to work every day and bring the lunch pail,” said Page. “They’re eager, they work hard, they listen. A kid like Angelo Alexander just soaks everything up offensively, so he makes a great read and goes off to the races. Those guys deserve the opportunity to play. They work hard in our drills and they work hard making our first-team guys work in practice. They’re underestimated a lot of times, but those guys deserve a lot of credit.”
Where everything clicked for Homer-Center, everything fell apart for United.
Snaps were bobbled, feet slipped, interceptions were thrown, fumbles lost and the Lions were left scoreless.
Boring completed only one of his eight pass attempts for 5 yards and ran for six yards on 10 carries. He threw an interception and lost a fumble. Sophomore running back Caden McCully led the Lions with nine rushing yards on nine carries.
Overall, United put up only 33 yards of offense, compared to the Wildcats’ 433.
“I give credit to United’s kids,” Page said. “They really battled. I thought they played really hard and physical at times and made us really work for some drives and stopped us on other drives. I wasn’t really pleased with that. Hats off to them."
Despite the win, Page and his team are looking to clean up their game as they head to West Shamokin next week.
“It’s a win, so I can’t really complain too much, but there’s definitely some stuff we need to clean up,” McAnulty said. “We left too much out on the field – a lot of the penalties and minor mistakes mentally.”
The Wildcats tallied up seven penalties for 50 yards lost, with three of those penalties preventing touchdowns. Homer-Center also fumbled twice; one being grabbed by United senior Isaiah Rose to end the first quarter.
As for his 99th win, Page isn’t too worried about his own stats.
“I’m not counting. It’s just 99.” Page laughed. “There’s nothing special about 99. The next one is going to be really hard, because it’s against West Shamokin. We got a good meat of the schedule coming up, so we’re taking it one week at a time. That’s how we play things around here. I think Jon McCullough is one of the better young coaches in our area. He always has his kids ready to play. That’s a tough place to play, and I think they’re going to be ready for us. We need to be ready for them.”