WELLINGTON — Firelands entered Friday night’s Patriot Athletic Conference Stars Division game at Wellington looking to hit the restart button on its 2012 season. Luckily for the Falcons, the Dukes were in the mood to provide second chances.
Firelands took advantage of four Wellington turnovers and senior running back Zackery Hofecker found the end zone on three occasions en route to a 32-29.
The Falcons (1-5, 1-2 PAC) got on the board first on Hofecker’s 10-yard touchdown run with 5:14 to play in the first quarter. That was just the beginning for the
6-foot, 221-pound back who also had a pair of 1-yard touchdown runs.
“This was a huge win for us tonight. We started our side of the PAC play tonight and we talked in practice all week that if we believe in ourselves that we can turn our season around,” he said. “It was important to score first and gain the momentum so we could execute the game plan we worked on all week.”
The teams exchanged second-quarter touchdowns before Tyler Polen briefly put the Dukes (1-5, 1-2) back in front with a 82-yard kickoff return that made the score 15-12 in favor of Wellington.
Firelands answered back with 1:33 remaining in the half when quarterback Joe Hyster connected with Nicholas Bauer for a 15-yard touchdown strike to put the Falcons back in front 18-15.
Hyster completed 8 of 16 passes on the night for 147 yards and also threw a 20-yard touchdown pass to Dakota Dodge in the third quarter. Hyster, who also plays linebacker, intercepted a Dylan Weidrick pass midway through the third quarter and returned it 62 yards to inside the 20.
“I had (an interception) last week too against Oberlin and I got caught from behind. Everyone was making fun of me all week,” Hyster said. “This week I got the ball and I saw nothing but green in front of me but they caught me from behind again. It was cool though to get the interception this week in a win.”
Wellington outgained the Falcons 326-260 and had 23 first downs compared to just 13 for Firelands but three turnovers inside Firelands’ 30-yard line meant the Dukes were unable to turn first downs into touchdowns.
Weidrick, Wellington’s senior quarterback, led all ball carriers in the game with 120 on 22 carries. His 34-yard touchdown run with 3:17 to play brought his team back to within three, 32-29 but that was all the points the Dukes were able to put on the board.
Wellington began its final possession on its 12-yard line with 1:02 to play and one timeout remaining. Weidrick used two runs and two pass plays to lead the team down to the Firelands’ 38 with 12 seconds left on the clock. A desperation pass into the end zone as time expired fell harmlessly to the ground and the Dukes left the field winless in their first three home games of the season.
“Some games this season our offense played great, other nights our defense played great. Tonight we were finally able to put it all together on both sides of the ball,” Firelands coach Mike Passerrello said.
NOT SO SPECIAL: The kicking game provided a series of misadventures for the Falcons with a blocked PAT attempt, a snap that sailed over the holder’s head on another PAT try, three kickoffs that went out of bounds and a punt for negative yards in the third after another errant snap.
Contact Todd Shapiro at 329-7135