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MONDAY MORNING QUARTERBACK: SAYRE'S GORMAN HOPES LOSS TO ATHENS SERVES AS MOTIVATION FOR REST OF 2020 (2020-09-14)

By TIM BIRNEY
Valley Sports Report
SAYRE — Sayre coach Kevin Gorman believes his team played well enough to win Friday night in its 10-7 loss to Athens in the annual renewal of the Rusty Rail rivalry, and hopes the season-opening loss serves as motivation for the remainder of the season.

“I definitely thought for long stretches, we outplayed Athens.

“We did a good job with our game plan,” said Gorman. “Coming in, we knew we wanted to run the ball, and play defense. We did both really well, we just couldn’t overcome the mistakes.

“It was a learning experience,” noted Gorman. “I know the guys aren’t happy — it left a bad taste in their mouths.

“Hopefully, it’s motivation to push on through the rest of the season,” he added.

The Redskins have a bye this week, and Gorman says they will take advantage of the time off.

“We’ll use the bye week to re-evaluate,” he said. “I usually like rolling into another game, but the bye weeks give you some time to relax, heal up some guys from some bangs and bruises, and to re-evaluate who’s on the field on special teams, defense, and offense.”

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The Redskins rushed for 178 yards, with junior David Northrop gaining 95, and junior Jake Bennett aded 84.

“Anytime you have two guys near 90 yards, you know the (offensive) line is doing something right,” said Gorman.

“We shuffled some guys around,” he noted. “We have a 6- or 7-guy rotation … we have a few guys who play multiple positions during the game. They all did a really good job up front.

“And, Jake (Bennett) and David (Northrop) ran very well. They both ran hard, it’s a good thing to have that kind of 1-2 punch.

“When we can get Zach Garrity and Logan Chapman some touches too, I think we have a nice group of backs, but when those two were as hot as they were it was tough to go away from them,” added Gorman. “I think our backs are going to have a good year running the ball for us.”

The Redskin passing game struggled, however, with sophomore Lucas Horton, in his first varsity start, completing 4 of 14 pass attempts for 47 yards.

“I don’t think Lucas’ throwing stats tell the whole story. Other than the one interception, I thought he threw the ball pretty well,” said Gorman.

“We definitely had some drops. We had a drop on a deep ball that was catchable, we had a wide-open receiver fall down, and we had what would have been a touchdown dropped late in the first half,” noted Gorman. “We can’t be dropping touchdown passes, and falling down when you’re wide-open for a big play.

“For the most part, I thought Lucas played a good game,” he added. “If we make some of those catches, it could be a different story. Those dropped balls are a big issue.”

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Athens moved the ball inside the Athens 5 on the opening possession of the game, but senior Matt Lane came up with a big strip to end the threat.

However, after a bad snap on a Sayre punt moments later, the Wildcats drove a short field and scored their only TD of the game to take a 7-0 lead.

“It was our first real live-action, and it took us a little time to adjust,” said Gorman. “Moving our backers out a little bit, definitely helped.

“I thought we were going to hold them (after the bad snap on the punt), but we lost the receiver in coverage, and (Mason) Lister threw a really nice ball to the end zone,” added Gorman.

Lister threw for 160 yards, but the Wildcats only ran for 58 yards.

“Overall, we were really pleased with the defense,” said Gorman. “We played well against the run. Anytime you only give up 58 yard rushing, it’s a good night.

“At the same time, I think we’ll get better.

“We have a good rotation of four linebackers, and a good defensive line rotation,” noted Gorman. “Now, the only thing is to find a couple more secondary guys who can get in there and spell (Lucas) and Matt (Lane) because by the end of the game those two played pretty much every snap, except for a few special-teams plays.

“I think this week, with the bye week, we can get back to basics and find a couple more guys to spell some of those guys in the secondary,” he added.

Both of the Wildcat scores in the game came on the short field — the second after a Redskin fumble midway through the fourth quarter.

“For the most part, we do a good job in the short field,” said Gorman. “If you can keep teams out of the end zone in the short field, it can be a momentum swing.

“Even if you hold them to a field goal,” he noted. “(Friday) that was the game-winning field goal, but
anytime you’re kicking a field goal in high school, it always a scary situation.

“Even after the field goal, we still had a chance after that to win the game,” Gorman added. “I give our guys kudos on that, they could have rolled over and let them score a touchdown.”

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The Redskins had a couple of issues on special teams Friday night that hurt them — the bad snap on the punt, and a long return on the opening kickoff that set the Wildcats up in good field position to start the game.

Junior Dom Fabbri missed the game due to illness, and Gorman said his absence proved unfortunate.

“I trust Dom Fabbri to do a  lot of stuff on special teams … we were going to move him to snapper, he’s a little more consistent,” said Gorman. “And, he’s usually our contain guy on the side where they busted the long return.

“It is what it is, though,” noted Gorman. “We did an OK job on special teams overall, but you can’t have the bad snap, and you can’t allow long returns.

“Watching the film, we’ll make a few changes here and there, and get that kick-off team back to what it was last year. Last year, our kick team was really good, we got downfield and made plays,” added Gorman. “We’ll figure it out.”

Gorman did cite Horton’s performance as punter in the loss.

“Lucas (Horton) is a really good punter,” he said. “It’s really nice when you have a punter who can flip field position for you. He’s pretty consistent … he gets pretty good hang time, and his punts usually roll our way.

“He’s nice to have back there, and he’s only going to get better over the next couple years,” he added.

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GRADE FOR WEEK 1: “Don’t get me wrong, I think we played hard, and I think we played well, but you can’t have two fumbles, an interception, a bad snap, and bad penalties in bad situations,” said Gorman.

“It’s those things that really bring a grade down. It doesn’t matter how well you play, if those little mistakes end up costing you game.

“I think the kids are going to bounce back,” added Gorman. “I know this left a pretty bad taste in their mouths.” …  GRADE: C-

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