SPRING MILLS - Tyrone has depended a lot on junior tailback James Oliver, and that has paid off with Oliver leading the area in rushing for much of the season.
The problem is that opposing defenses have crowding the line of scrimmage to stop the run, making it harder for Oliver to find open spaces. Tyrone quarterback Erik Wagner, however, might have just given opposing defensive coordinators something more to think about as the District 6 playoffs approach.
Wagner completed 9-of-12 passes for 142 yards and three touchdowns to three different teammates, including a 65-yard gem to Charles Wilson-Adams with 12 seconds left in the first half, and ran for 51 yards to lead the Golden Eagles to a 42-14 romp over the Rams Friday night at Penns Valley Athletic Field.
"We planned on spreading the field with passing," Wagner said. "We knew what we wanted to do, and we did it."
"Erik played well," Tyrone coach Steve Guthoff said. "The best part of what Erik does is he's not making mistakes that cost us. He's not throwing picks. If he's feeling pressure, he's pulling it down and running. Don't try to be a gunslinger and put us in a difficult position. I'm real happy with the decisions Erik's making."
Wagner might have benefitted from a controversial visitor to this week's practice. Former Penn State receivers coach and quarterback Mike McQueary, who was involved in the Jerry Sandusky firestorm, met with the Eagles one day - although it's unclear how much Guthoff's former student at State College High School contributed to the offense.
"I brought him in just to take a look at what we were doing," Guthoff said. "Then, after watching what we were doing on the field, he went in with the coaches. It was more like a big-time college guy watching us at practice, so we've got to all step it up. I joked with him that it was more quality control."
"He was helping me with drops and reading defenses," Wagner said.
The Eagles (6-3), who snapped the four-game winning streak by PV (4-5), sputtered on offense in the first quarter as their first two drives ended in a punt and a Wagner fumble. But Tyrone got it going with a 10-yard run by Oliver, who finished with 60 yards on 11 carries and a 16-yard pass from Wagner to Hayden Zook, and the Eagles finished it off with an Oliver 9-yard TD run.
Tyrone went on a 10-play, 84-yard drive in the second quarter, with big runs by Wagner and Corey Snyder, who led the Eagles in rushing with 62 yards on eight carries, and Wagner finished it off with an 8-yard TD pass to Lucas Woomer. The snap was bad, but holder Zook hit Joshua Fetters for the two-point conversion.
Guthoff called a timeout after PV's third down, and the TO proved big. On the first play following the punt, Wagner threw a beauty of a bomb to Wilson-Adams in-stride for a touchdown. Seth Umholtz's PAT made the score 22-0 at the half.
"That was a really nice ball," Guthoff said. "Erik put it out there, and the offensive line did an outstanding job with the protection because he had all day to throw that.
"We just wanted to punch it in right before the half," Wagner said, "and get us up by a little more."
A Snyder 21-yard TD run and Wagner's 21-yard scoring strike to Zook in the third put the mercy rule in effect. Tyrone's second team entered in the fourth, and PV scored twice. Joe Gearhart's 82-yard kickoff return to the end zone was Tyrone's final score.
The Eagles will finish up the regular season next week against Johnstown, and then it's time for the playoffs. So, there's still a lot of time to expand on the passing game.
"It has to be there," Guthoff said. "You just can't go into the playoffs with some of the teams we're going to see and expect to put the load on James. Erik's ready to take on that responsibility."
SCORE BY QUARTERS
Tyrone0 22 14 6 -42
Penns Valley0 0 0 14 -14
T-Oliver 9 run (Umholtz kick), 8:41
T-Woomer 8 pass from Wagner (Fetters pass from Zook), :51
T-Wilson-Adams 65 pass from Wagner (Umholtz kick), :12
T-Snyder 21 run (Umholtz kick), 9:04
T-Zook 21 pass from Wagner (Umholtz kick), 5:44
PV-Tobias 5 run (Deardorff kick), 11:18
PV-Collison 1 run (Deardorff kick), 7:24
T-Gearhart 82 kickoff return (kick failed), 7:11
RUSHING: Tyrone-Snyder 8-62, Oliver 11-60, Wagner 7-51, A. Hunter 3-45, TEAM 1-(-2), G. Hunter 2-(-23). Penns Valley-Tobias 5-48, Fegley 4-23, Collison 7-18, Hook 6-12, Weaver 1(-1), TEAM 1-(-2), Confer 3-(-3), Johnson 1-(-10).
PASSING: Tyrone-Wagner 9-12-0-142. Penns Valley-Tobias 11-22-1-89, Weaver 0-1-0-0.
RECEIVING: Tyrone-Wilson-Adams 4-81, Zook 2-38, Woomer 2-21, Oliver 1-3. Penns Valley-Collison 5-39, Weaver 3-27, Koser 2-15, Lush 1-8.
INTERCEPTIONS: Tyrone-Sleeth. Penns Valley-none.
Passing (cmp.-att.-int)9-12-0 11-23-1