Weekly Feature



2010-10-21 / Sports

Miller’s TD beats Lancaster, keeps Depew perfect

by MIKE MIGLIORE Reporter

Depew quarterback Aaron Ertel throws the ball on the run while being pressured by Lancaster’s Ryan Kuehlewind during Friday night’s Lancaster-Depew rivalry game. Ertel helped lead the winning drive in the final minutes as the Wildcats pulled out a 19-16 victory. Photo by John Rusac Purchase color photos at www.BeeNews.com Depew quarterback Aaron Ertel throws the ball on the run while being pressured by Lancaster’s Ryan Kuehlewind during Friday night’s Lancaster-Depew rivalry game. Ertel helped lead the winning drive in the final minutes as the Wildcats pulled out a 19-16 victory. Photo by John Rusac Purchase color photos at www.BeeNews.com Dan McGrath has coached the Depew Wildcats varsity football team for over 13 years now and has seen his fair share of classic Lancaster-Depew games. The latest installment in this 83-year-old rivalry may have been one of the most memorable though for Mc- Grath and Depew.

“I’d say this one is just as good as any of the others I’ve had over my 13 years,” McGrath said in the aftermath of Depew’s 19-16 victory.

The clock was ticking on the Wildcats’ undefeated season just minutes earlier as Depew trailed, 16-13, with only 3:08 to play as the Wildcats took over on their own 29-yard-line.

As with a few other Depew games earlier this season, the Wildcats did not panic and knew what they had to do to pull out a dramatic victory at the end.

“We were just saying that we can’t quit; this is it,” Depew junior running back Joe Miller said following the game. “We have to get this now. It’s now or never. We want that undefeated season. That’s what we’ve been looking for since the beginning of the year.”

Two passes from quarterback Aaron Ertel to wide receiver Sam Sallaj moved the Wildcats into Lancaster territory with under two minutes to play. With a 2nd-and-1 at the 46-yard-line, Ertel and Miller combined on the play of the season for Depew.

The Redskins were showing blitz, so Ertel changed Miller’s pass route at the line so he would be open for a quick throw. Miller caught the ball in the middle of the field and broke free from the Lancaster defense. A block from running back Anthony Emmanuele got Miller to the near sideline, where he streaked 46 yards for the game-winning touchdown with 1:36 to play.

“We had a hot read,” said Miller, who was named game MVP. “Ertel and I saw it together. We just made a play. I got some great blocks downfield from my receivers. Emmanuele got that last block for me. I got to the corner and that was it.”

That’s not it for Depew’s undefeated season. The Wildcats completed a perfect, 7-0 regular season by beating their arch-rivals on the road at Foyle-Kling Field in the annually-anticipated rivalry game.

“If you’re going to cap off an undefeated regular season, this is the way to do it,” McGrath said.

Depew got on the board first in the opening quarter as a 2-yard Emmanuele touchdown run capped an eight-play, 72 yard drive to open the game. Lancaster responded though with a 10-play, 96-yard drive that ended with tailback Kyle Taylor running in for a 2-yard touchdown early in the second quarter.

The Redskins were then handed two points on the next possession as a punt was snapped over Sallaj’s head for a safety. Momentum swung though on Lancaster’s first offensive play after the free kick as quarterback Ryan Radke fumbled and Alec Rodgers recovered. Depew quickly turned that into points on another 2-yard touchdown run by Emmanuele.

The Wildcats appeared to be heading for a knockout punch right before halftime as they drive to a 1st-and-goal at the Lancaster 10-yard-line with under 30 seconds to play. Momentum swung again though as Ertel was flushed out of the pocket and, instead of throwing the ball away, threw an ill-advised pass that was picked off by Lancaster’s Geoff Franger and returned 89-yards for a touchdown.

“Ertel threw that pick right before the half; the question some people would have then is will he be able to bounce back?” Mc- Grath said. “What’s he made of? I think he showed some character by bouncing back.”

It took a while for Ertel and the Wildcats to bounce back as the teams traded punts and turnovers throughout the second half. Depew got a big takeaway with 8:35 to play as Sallaj picked off Radke in the end zone to stop a Lancaster threat.

“Sam is dependable,” McGrath said of Sallaj’s play on both offense and defense. “We know where he’s going to be. We know he’s going to catch the ball when you throw it to him. He did that again today.”

Sacks by Ryan Baer and Darryl Jarrett got Ertel and the Depew offense the ball back for the final drive. McGrath talked about what he told his offense before the final series that Miller finished off in the end zone.

“Aaron and I talked that we would come out in our passing formations,” McGrath said. “We ’re going to have to get to the sidelines and stop the clock and move downfield. That’s what we attempted to do. Joe made it easy.”

Ertel completed 12 of 22 passes for 167 yards in the win.

Depew completes its undefeated regular season and will now get ready to host Lackawanna Friday at 7:30 p.m. in the opening round of the Class B playoffs. Depew is the number two seed behind Alden, while Lackawanna is the number seven seed.

“This gives us pretty good momentum going into the playoffs,” Miller said. “We need to take the momentum into the playoffs. I love this feeling.”

Lancaster, meanwhile, closes out a disappointing 2-5 regular season. The three-point loss on Friday was their second in as many weeks as they fell at Frontier the week before, 16-13.

Lancaster still holds a comfortable lead in the all-time series between Depew and Lancaster, 47-30-6.

e-mail: mmigliore@beenews.com

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