MALVERN – After spotting Woodbine a pair of first-quarter touchdowns, East Mills got its big-play offense on track in time to spark a 40-28 eight-man win over the visiting Tigers last Friday night before a partisan Wolverine crowd.
Junior quarterback Luke Schafer completed 15 passes for 217 yards and five touchdowns as the Wolverines pulled away in the second half for the season-opening victory.
“With only two seniors out, we’ve got a lot of young kids out there, so we’re pretty happy with our execution with a lot of guys that had very little or no playing time last year,” East Mills head coach Andy Irwin said. “We’ve got some guys, including some freshmen that played well tonight."
Woodbine got on the scoreboard first with a pair of touchdown runs from running back Kyle Kuhlman and quarterback Zack Archer.
Down 14-0, East Mills answered the Tigers with two touchdown passes, an eight-yarder and a 28-yarder, from Schafer to tight end Daniel Duysen.
East Mills took its first lead of the night with 1:33 to play in the second quarter. Two plays after Schafer intercepted a Tiger pass at the East Mills 1 yard line, the Wolverine quarterback teamed up with running back Kaleb Richter on a 78-yard scoring strike. A successful two-point conversion gave East Mills a 20-14 lead.
The East Mills defense shut down Woodbine on its ensuing possession, but the Wolverines fumbled the ball back to the Tigers on the punt return inside their own red zone. Two plays later, with 55 seconds left in the half, Archer scampered 10 yards for a TD. Kuhlman ran in the two-point conversion to put the Tigers back up 22-20.
East Mills could have been content to play it conservative and run out the clock in the final seconds of the half, but the Wolverines had other ideas. A 49-yard pass completion from Schafer to Brandon Clemmons set up yet another East Mills touchdown with just nine seconds on the clock. The final six yards of the scoring drive came on a pass from Schafer to Richter. The Wolverines had the momentum and the lead again at halftime, 26-22.
The third quarter began with Woodbine reclaiming the lead on a 17-yard scoring pass from Archer to Gawon Schafer.
The Wolverines were down 28-26 until the final minute of the third quarter. That’s when Schafer and Richter teamed up for another TD, this time on a 15-yard screen pass.
The fourth quarter belonged to East Mills as the Wolverines took over at the line of scrimmage. A 28-yard TD run by Clemmons and a successful two-point conversion would put East Mills up 40-28 with 9:44 left in the fourth quarter. The Wolverines would be in control for the remainder of the game.
Irwin said the win was pleasing, particularly the play of the Wolverines in the second half. He
agreed that the Wolverines appeared to be the better conditioned team in the fourth quarter.
“We did make a few personnel changes (at halftime) and we thought we kind of had some things that we could do and take advantage, but overall it wasn’t really anything big. I think a lot of it just had to do with those kids feeling more comfortable and confident,” Irwin said. “I think they were just a little bit stronger at the end of the game. I was pretty proud of the way our kids worked this summer. We had fantastic weight room attendance. We had a lot of kids that worked hard. Maybe that paid off today.
“I’m just really happy with the way our guys played in the second half. We seemed to get stronger and I think that was the difference in the game.”
In addition to Schafer’s 217 yards passing, the Wolverines also churned out 165 yards rushing. The Tigers tallied 270 yards on the ground and 111 in the air. Kuhlman was the game’s leading rusher with 150 yards.
Defensively for East Mills, Duysen recorded a team-high 12 tackles. Schafer and Clemmons were both in on 11 stops.
SCORING BY QUARTERS
Wooodbine Tigers 14 08 06 00 - 28
East Mills Wolverines 06 20 06 08 – 40
WB – Kyle Kuhlman, 15 run (run failed).
WB – Zack Archer, 36 run (Kuhlman run).
EM – Daniel Duysen, 8 pass from Luke Schafer (pass failed).
EM – Duysen, 28 pass from Schafer (run failed).
EM – Kyle Richter, 78 pass from Schafer (Schafer run).
WB – Archer, 5 run (Kuhlman run).
EM – Richter, 6 pass from Schafer (pass failed).
WB – Gavvon Schafer, 17 pass from Archer (pass failed).
EM – Richter, 15 pass from Schafer (run failed).
EM – Brandon Clemmons, 28 run (Clemmons run).