By John Anderson, 9/19/21
The Wellsville Lions football team went back to the basics last week to work on blocking on offense and spent extra time on defense.
After two straight winless seasons and an 0-2 start, it was time to get defensive.
The defense, fueled by a big two-point conversion stop by Shane Davidson, kept Holley from tying the game at 8-8 early on Saturday.
That play and an inspired offense in front of a huge “Glow Lions” crowd took over from there as Wellsville defeated the Holley Hawks, 42-12.
“Last week, after we lost to Red Jacket, we had a sit-down with the whole team and said ‘we have to step up in practice or we’re not going to be able to perform big in games.’ And we proved that this week,” said senior Quarterback Alex Perkins. “It took the entire team and everyone on offense, defense and special teams.”
Layfield scored the first Wellsville touchdown and caught a two-point conversion for an 8-0 lead. After Holley scored to make it 8-6, Wellsville answered as Perkins threw a 40-yard touchdown pass to Jerry Havens. Havens then ran in the two-point conversion.
Havens then had a 30-yard run to set up a 31-yard touchdown run by John Layfield. Davidson ran for a 7-yard touchdown, his first of his career. Senior defensive end Connor Ferguson had what appeared to be a 50-yard strip and fumble return for a touchdown, but an inadvertent whistle by the referee gave the ball back to Holley.
The defense held, then put the game away when Layfield went 30-yards for a touchdown. Davidson made it 42-6 with a 12-yard touchdown run.
“Since day 1, we added a little more as the kids got better on their base defense. We added a few things tonight and they did well,” said Wellsville coach Larry Peacock. “That’s all from the kids, it’s all about family. They want one team working together. In the meeting today, we said ‘everybody work for everybody so everyone has the opportunity’ and they got it.
“It was great to have a little neon in the student section and the student section was rocking,” Peacock added. “It was great to see the (players) go congratulate the student section because it’s all about one pride, it’s about the Wellsville Lions.”
Ferguson said the game was the best feeling he has had in his career.
“Defense was fun, I was trying to press inside the whole time. It was great, but I think I could do better,” he said. “We did great defense in the first half, we only let them score once and we stopped the two-point conversation. The crowd gave us adrenaline and kept us going. I looked up at the stands and smiled. This was the best feeling to get a win, we haven’t had one in two years.”
Ferguson said the key was, “We practiced more this week than any other week, we went two-and-a-half hours. We went hard.”
Davidson had a big interception, two touchdown runs and seven tackles.
“I was feeling really anxious when they got in the endzone and all I could think was they would get two more points on us, tie the game and take the momentum from us,” said Davidson. “I loved how we looked and what we were doing out there. It was great for everyone on offense, and for me, I got my first touchdown today.”
Perkins said, “I saw a student section full of rainbow colors and it was great to see a packed student section.”
As for the game, Perkins said, “their fullback was a big kid, we did a good job on run defense and we have to fix up some things and work hard for next week.
Wellsville coach Bob McMorris said, “We went back to basics in practice with run block, recognition, pass blocking, pass protection. Holley came out and played hard. I was a little concerned the way Holley came out and played hard, but our kids stepped up to the challenge.
“Everyone got in and played quite a bit, they should be happy with their performance.
J.J. Howard caught three passes for 42 yards and had a two-point conversion. Layfield had 137 yards rushing while Perkins threw for 104 yards and ran for 47.
On defense, Ferguson had 13 tackles and two forced fumbles while Layfield had 10 tackles.
Wellsville (1-2) is at the combined C.G. Finney/Northstar Academy team on Saturday in Rochester at 4 p.m.