WEST LAWN — All went Hempfield’s way in the first quarter in John Gurski Stadium on Friday night, spotting the Black Knights to an early two-score advantage.
But host Wilson eventually righted the ship, went to the half with a small lead, and built on it after the break en route to an eventual 27-12 Lancaster-Lebanon League Section One football win.
With the victory, Wilson (5-0 L-L, 5-1 overall) sealed up the outright Section One crown, a league-record 28th section title.
The Bulldogs are likely headed to next week’s four-team District Three Class 6A playoffs. They entered the night at No. 4 in the power ratings. However, if Harrisburg is able to pick up a fourth game over the weekend and win, the Cougars would improve 4-0 and qualify for the field — Class 6A teams need to play at least four games to qualify for the postseason — and likely bump Wilson from the No. 4 spot.
“We knew coming into this game there was a chance we could still make the playoffs but it wouldn’t mean anything if we came out here and didn’t come out with a win,” Wilson quarterback Kaleb Brown said.
Brown finished with 198 rushing yards on 15 carries with one touchdown. However, he fumbled the ball away on the game’s first play from scrimmage, resulting in an eventual 19-yard field goal by Hempfield kicker Spencer Biscoe.
Hempfield later pushed its lead to 9-0 on Tanner Hess' 62-yard rushing burst near the end of the first quarter. Hess, his arm still in a cast after breaking his forearm two weeks ago, was mostly held in check with seven yards on the remaining nine other carries outside of his long touchdown. And the Black Knights struggled to get much going in the passing game.
The Bulldogs cut the deficit to 9-3 in the final seconds of the first quarter on a 39-yard field goal from Jack Wagner. They took their first lead of the night on their next drive, a 6-play, 59-yard march capped with a 35-yard rushing score from Brown.
Wilson pushed its lead to 13-9 before halftime on a 37-yard field goal by Wagner.
Hempfield cut the deficit to 13-12 on its opening drive of the third quarter on a 50-yard field goal by Biscoe. The drive was kept alive on a roughing-the-kicker penalty by Wilson, and a successful fourth-down fake punt play by the Knights. It was Hempfield’s only second-half score.
On the ensuing drive, an eight-play march by Wilson ended on a trick play that saw Brown toss the ball back to wide receiver Corey Powers, who threw a left-handed 21-yard TD pass Sean Dendall to make it 20-12.
Wilson scored again on its next drive, which was capped by a 26-yard TD strike from Brown to TJ Flite with 0:23 left in the third quarter.