Noah Spencer did something that every athlete has dreaded Saturday; he forgot his jersey. Luckily for him, an injured teammate had brought his along, and that’s the only mistake Spencer made all night Saturday as North Penn-Mansfield shocked 9-1 Wellsboro 17-14 at the Wellsboro Community Athletic Complex. NPM will take on Southern Columbia, winners of 43 straight games, next Saturday in Catawissa.
“Wellsboro does a lot of talking and after last week we needed to shut that down,” said Spencer. two way starting lineman Logan Choplosky had 11 tackles and was the best player on the field on both sides of the ball, especially late in the game.
“Choplosky is a kid who started for us last year and he’s our only returning starter,” remarked NPM Head Coach Tom Dickinson. “He is a lot better conditioned this year and you can see that. He’s a heck of a player.”
“I work a lot in the offseason and continue to work in the season (on conditioning) Choplosky said. His 11 tackles were a team high, made even more impressive considering he faced constant double teaming and cut blocks.
Spencer, though, was North Penn-Mansfield’s Johnny on the Spot. In a game where the Panthers struggled to move the ball, Spencer had six punts for an average of 36 yards per punt. His long reception in the third quarter after a Wellsboro fumble at midfield set up the Panthers to take the lead and is a bonafide candidate for the best catch in the NTL this year. Running a go route, Spencer got behind the Wellsboro defense and Colton Litzelman led him nearly perfectly. Spencer laid out, full stretch, reeled the ball in and hung on.
“We did a play earlier where I went to the flat and they came down on it so coach called a deep route and he threw a great ball. I lost it in the lights but came down with it.”
Kevin Alexander, who was also great in the kicking game for the Panthers, would cash in on a 22-yard field goal that nearly ended in disaster after a high snap, but a great hold got the ball down and Alexander snuck it through the left upright to make it 10-7, a lead they would never relinquish.
The scoring started early on. On Wellsboro’s first play from scrimmage, Isaac Keane’s pass into the flat was picked off by Mitchael Tice and returned 10 yards for a Panther touchdown just a minute and a half in the game. It was big for a Panther team that struggled to move the ball all night, especially in the first half.
Wellsboro would respond in the second quarter with a one yard touchdown run by Alex Burrell to make it 7-7.
It would stay scoreless until Alexander’s aforementioned field goal. North Penn would score just 150 seconds later when wildcat quarterback Cameron Fabian hooked up with Kohen Lehman.
“We’d struggled at the goal line recently and so we put that package in,” said Dickinson.
Wellsboro would claw back into it on an incredible individual effort by Silas Wagaman on a 63 yard punt return touchdown to make it 17-14 with ten minutes to go. North Penn Mansfield used the clock effectively, though, and Wellsboro only ran three more offensive plays the rest of the game as North Penn Mansfield got two crucial first downs after starting a drive with 3:50 left at the ball at midfield to put the game on ice.
For the Panthers, Litzelman was 11-20-94 yards, Spencer had 11 carries for 49 and three catches for 50 yards. For Wellsboro, Isaac Keane was 8-20 for 63 yards, he added 77 yards on 10 carries, and Burrell had two catches for 27 yards. Tyler Hancock added 16 tackles for the Hornets.