HANOVER TWP. — On paper, Hanover Area didn’t look very good through the first two weeks of the season.
The Hawks didn’t even change the number on the scoreboard in their first two games, shut out by a pair of formidable opponents.
On Friday night, at Hanover Area Memorial Stadium, the Hawks were the better team against Meyers on paper, but they came out on the short end of a 21-12 score.
Hanover Area led in just about every offensive category from total yardage to time of possession. However, it was two big plays by Meyers quarterback Janssen Wilborn book-ending the play of the Hawks that solidified the victory.
“That’s a tough team,” Meyers coach Jeff Labatch said. “The scores of their other games didn’t show how tough they are. They have a big line. They’re physical, they’re a good team. They just haven’t put it together yet. They will by the end of the season. They’re gonna be in a lot of games.”
Meyers’ first play from scrimmage was an 80-yard touchdown run on a keeper by quarterback Janssen Wilborn, who faked one way then went the other to get the score and put Meyers up 7-0 with 8:19 to go in the first quarter.
Wilborn also touched the ball on the Mohawks’ (2-1) last play from scrimmage in the game, and that resulted in a 10-yard touchdown run putting the game out of reach with 1:00 remaining. All in all, the senior quarterback ran for 140 yards on eight carries.
“On big plays, everybody gets excited,” Labatch said. “He’s an electrifying player. He’s a good player to watch.”
The Meyers defense forced Hanover Area (0-3) into a turnover on downs five times, including three in the red zone. The first time the Hawks came up empty was on their second drive of the game after going 67 yards and coming up empty on the 2. The defensive line of Michael Horvath, Eli Mitchell, Ryan Maffei and Jason Castellano came through with clutch stops all night when it counted.
“They stepped up when they had to,” Labatch said about his defense. “They gave up a little, but stepped up when they had to.”
Hanover Area made up for that lost drive when they recovered a fumble two plays later. Hanover Area’s first touchdown of the season followed when Josh Jopling ran in from 5 yards out. The missed extra point still kept Meyers in the lead, 7-6.
The Mohawks extended the lead to 14-6 in the second quarter going 55 yards on six plays capped by a 1-yard TD plunge from Rajhan Woodson with 5:16 to go before halftime.
A 6-yard TD run from Sean Coleman early in the fourth quarter pulled the Hawks within 14-12, but they missed the two-point conversion that could have tied the game.
Jopling had an extraordinary game for Hanover Area rushing 27 times for 131 yards and a score as the Hawks outgained Meyers on the ground 234-176. Hanover Area totaled 329 yards to Meyers’ 275, and at times, cut through the Mohawks defense with ease, but when it counted Meyers stood still. The Hawks also recovered three Meyers fumbles, and scored all 12 of their points off the turnovers.