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Blue Pirates explode for first playoff win since ’89

HOLLIDAYSBURG — If you’re familiar with the history of the Williamsburg Blue Pirate football program, you know that finding success on the field has been extremely difficult for them.

The Pirates have had to deal with seasons where they only win a game or two, and even none at all like the previous two seasons.

Even when they do end up with a window of opportunity to make it to the postseason, it usually ends up with them coming up short.

That all changed Saturday night.

The Blue Pirates racked up a 28-point explosion in the third quarter en route to the program’s first postseason victory since 1989, pounding Blairsville, 50-20, in the District 6 Class 1A first round matchup at Tiger Stadium.

“I know the struggles they’ve been through,” Williamsburg coach Ryan Hileman said. “Everyone other coach on my staff has played for Williamsburg, so they know what goes into it. To be able to win the first playoff game in 31 years means the world to me, it means the world I’m sure to the community, and I know it means the world to these players.”

It was hard to believe even for the players.

“I’m in disbelief,” Blue Pirate quarterback Lambert Palmer said. “I knew we were going to be a lot better this year. I don’t even know what to say. I’m at a loss of words. 31 years, I don’t know what to say.”

Play of the game: Palmer through two defenders found Jahmarea Wansley for a 37-yard pass to set up the Blue Pirates’ second score of the game during the first quarter which was capped off by a Palmer QB keeper in the second.

Player of the game: Speaking of Palmer, his name was on all but two Blue Pirate touchdowns as he was 8-for-11 passing for 116 yards with three touchdown passes. He also racked up two scores on the ground as he rushed for 40 yards on seven carries.

Unsung hero(es): The Blue Pirate defense sacked Bobcat QB Zak Artley five times for a loss of 34 yards and Wansley racked up 87 yards on four catches, including two scores in the third quarter.

Most vital stat(s): Blairsville ended up with minus-23 yards rushing on 14 attempts while Williamsburg averaged 6 yards per carry (240 yards on 40 attempts). The Blue Pirates also had 16 first downs to the Bobcats’ nine.

Hileman on Palmer: “He made some really great reads. We started to run the read option a little bit more, he was doing a really good job of holding the ball and running with it. He’s been throwing the ball extremely well lately. I have that kind of confidence in him.”

Blairsville coach Rick Artley: “They definitely were more physical than we were. They just manhandled us at the line of scrimmage. When you don’t control the line of scrimmage, you’re going to lose the game.”

Records: Blairsville (2-5), Williamsburg (4-3).

Next week: Williamsburg will head to Homer-Center on Friday for the District 6 Class 1A quarterfinals while Blairsville’s season is finished, electing not to participate in any more regular season games despite having only completed seven of 10 games allowed games.

SCORE BY QUARTERS

Blairsville 0 7 6 7–20

Williamsburg 8 14 28 0–50

First Quarter

W – Palmer 2 run (Clark run), 7:07.

Second Quarter

W – Palmer 3 run (Clark run), 11:10.

W – Clark 3 run (run failed), 2:15.

B – Witmer 3 pass from Artley (Behanna kick), :18.

Third Quarter

W – Wansley 26 pass from Palmer (run failed), 9:15.

W – Wansley 12 pass from Palmer (pass failed), 8:56.

W – McCall 7 pass from Palmer (Wansley run), 5:34.

B – Witmer 60 pass from Artley (pass failed), 3:33.

W – Clark 75 kickoff return (McCall run), 3:22.

Fourth Quarter

B – Taylor 7 pass from Artley (Behanna kick), 6:45.

TEAM STATISTICS B W

First downs 9 16

Total yards 251 356

Rushes-yards 14-(-23) 40-240

Yards passing 274 116

Passing (comp.-att.-int.) 18-29-2 8-12-1

Punts-avg. 3-27.3 1-45

Fumbles-lost 0-0 2-1

Penalties-yards 4-45 3-35

INDIVIDUAL STATISTICS

RUSHING–Blairsville, Witmer 9-11, Artley 5-(-34). Williamsburg, McCall 8-92, Clark 11-34, Palmer 7-40, R. Brantner 1-19, England 3-9, Wansley 3-25, Verbonitz 3-10, A. Bratner 2-3, Wagner 1-9, TEAM 1-(-1).

PASSING–Blairsville, Artley 18-29-2-274. Williamsburg, Palmer 8-11-0-116, Gorsuch 0-1-0-1.

RECEIVING–Blairsville, Skirboll 3-37, Kinney 5-63, Perfetti 2-25, Witmer 4-107, Barnhart 1-16, Taylor 2-15. Williamsburg, Wansley 4-87, McCall 3-24, Price 1-5.

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