On the road at Manheim Township in Friday’s Lancaster-Lebanon League Section One opener, Wilson was without starting quarterback Kaleb Brown, starting running back Mason Lenart and its top wideout, Troy Corson.
All three were out with injuries. It should also be noted that Wilson was coming off a lopsided 48-7 season-opening loss to Governor Mifflin a week earlier.
Still, the Bulldogs took advantage of some first-half miscues by the Blue Streaks, went toe-to-toe in a back-and-forth second half, and prevailed with a hard-fought 31-28 victory.
“We needed to get some breaks, and we knew that,” longtime Wilson coach Doug Dahms said. “When you’re out three of your top four playmakers, that’s what you got to do.”
The Bulldogs’ ground game churned out 293 rushing yards, led by junior back Jadyn Jones, who finished with 238 yards on 29 carries with two touchdowns.
“I felt our line was stronger than their line,” Dahms said. “And Jadyn is tough as nails. So it was just taking control on the offensive line.”
Jones’ first score was on the opening play from scrimmage, when he took the handoff to the right side, broke a pair of tackles and went untouched the rest of the way down the sideline for 65 yards. His next score was the dagger, a 15-yard run with 1:14 left to push Wilson’s lead to 31-21.
“It was next-man-up mentality,” Jones said. “We stepped the intensity up at practice this week, steadied the line up front and trusted each other. It carried over to the game.”
After Township (0-1 league, 0-2 overall) knotted it up at 7-7, Wilson’s next drive was kept alive on a muffed punt catch by the Streaks, with the Bulldogs (1-0, 1-1) eventually going back up 10-7 on a 29-yard field goal by Jack Wagner.
Wilson pushed its lead to 17-7 on a blocked punt, scoop and score by Ethan Capitano midway through the second quarter.
“Just from a momentum standpoint, that was huge,” Dahms said.
The Streaks scored just before halftime on a 37-yard touchdown pass from Ethan Clark to Elijah Fonseca to go into the break trailing 17-14.
The Streaks took their first and only lead of the game, 21-17, on a 7-play, 62-yard drive midway through the third quarter, capped by a nine-yard run from Cade Clancy, who carried 13 times for 120 yards.
Wilson later went back in front, 24-21, on Gavin Lenart's 42-yard rushing burst up the middle with 9:50 left.
On its next possession, Township drove down to Wilson’s 12-yard line and appeared to get a first down on a QB keeper by Clark on a 4th and short, but the Streaks were penalized when Clancy pushed Clark from behind in effort to gain a new set of downs. After an incomplete pass, Wilson took over with 7:19 left.
Township later cut it to 31-28 when Anthony Ivey (five receptions for 78 yards) hauled in a 49-yard throw to the end zone from (17 for 34 for 282 yards, 3 TDs) with a fraction of a second remaining.
The Bulldogs will host Penn Manor next Friday, while Township travels to Cedar Crest.