ORRVILLE - Turnovers were the major problem for the Wellsville Tigers on Saturday as they fell to the Norwalk St. Paul Flyers by a 24-0 count in a Division VII second round playoff contest at Red Rider Stadium.
The Tigers end the campaign with a 9-3 record. The Flyers (11-1) will square off with Berlin Center Western Reserve, who defeated Danville, next Saturday in the Division VII, Region 23 championship at a site to be announced this afternoon.
The Tigers had three turnovers in the first 12 minutes, resulting in St. Paul having the ball on the Wellsville side of the 50 all three times. The Tiger defense played gallantly with only one of the three miscues leading directly to a Flyer score.
Wellsville's defense also forced two fumbles with Joe Abdalla and Greg Beatty recovering them for the Tigers during the game's first 13 minutes.
"We had too many turnovers. We had too may mistakes," said Wellsville head coach Rich Wright. "The effort was there, but we had three turnovers in the first half."
The Tigers showed a balanced rushing offense led by Marcus Moxley with 81 yards, followed by Brendon Carr with 62 and Zack Mellott with 54.
Wellsville had 328 yards in total offense compared to 303 by St. Paul.
St. Paul's first score was a result of a 60-yard punt return by Grant Dilger to the Wellsville 8. One play later, Brad Smith dashed around right end for the tally. Scottie Slauterbeck's extra point boosted the Flyers out to a quick 7-0 lead at the 4:22 mark of the first quarter.
Wellsville started to move the ball on their next series moving from their own 20 to the St. Paul 28 before they turned the ball over on an interception. Norwalk's Devin Smith returned the interception to the Wellsville 47 before he was brought down.
Three plays later, Jaret Nickoli pulled in a Scottie Slauterbeck aerial for Norwalk's second score of the quarter. Slauterbeck's conversion kick gave the Flyers a 14-0 lead with a 1:45 remaining in the first quarter.
Wellsville's next series ended with a fumble, but the Tigers quickly got the ball back when Beatty recovered a Flyer fumble at the St. Paul 48.
The Tigers' offense moved the ball quickly down to the St. Paul 8, the key play being a shifty 27-yard run by Mellott. Stymied by the Flyers' defense, Wellsville opted to try a 27-yard field goal, but it was wide right.
Two series later, St. Paul's Nickoli sprinted 75 yards up the middle with 2:24 remaining in the half for the Pilots' third score of the half. Slauterbeck's placement made it 21-0 in favor of St. Paul.
"They're a great team. They have an outstanding program," Wright said. "They played real hard the entire night. They schemed against us extremely well."
Nickoli paced the Pilot offense with 108 yards rushing on just five carries.
The lone score in the third quarter came on a 28-yard field by Slauterbeck. The senior quarterback passed completed four passes for 107 yards.
The Tigers made it as far as the St. Paul 4 in the fourth quarter before turning the ball over on downs. A 36-yard interception return by Brendon Carr intiated the drive, which included 20-yard runs by both Moxley and Mellott.
"Our effort was there," said Wright. "We have been making a few too many mistakes all year and it caught up to us tonight. I made too many mistakes myself. We needed to score when we got down there close to the goal line and we didn't. That falls one me."
WELLSVILLE: 0-0-0-0- 0
ST. PAUL: 14-7-3-0-24
NSP-Brad Smith 8 run (Scottie Slauterbeck kick)
NSP-Jaret Nickoli 47 pass from Scottie Slauterbeck (Slauterbeck kick)
NSP-Nickoli 75 run (Slauterbeck kick)
NSP-Slauterbeck 28 field goal
Total Yards 74-32848-303
RUSHING-Wellsville, Zack Mellott 13-54, Jordan Sloan 13-27, Brendon Carr 13-62, Marcus Moxley 10-81; Norwalk St. Paul, Jesse Gross 11-39, Brad Smith 11-53, Jaret Nickoli 5-108, Scottie Slauterbeck 4-8, Devin Smith 5-27.
PASSING-Wellsville,Jordan Sloan 7-25-104-3; Norwalk St. Paul, Scottie Slauterbeck 4-12-107-2.
RECEIVING-Wellsville, Camden Douglas 1-9, Zack Mellott 1-17, Marcus Moxley 2-21, Jordan Allen 1-14, Seth Bradford 1-20, Brendon Carr 1-23; Norwalk St. Paul, Bob Harwood 1-7, Jaret Nickoli 1-48, Matt Starcher 1-17, Wes Fritz 1-30.
INTERCEPTIONS-Wellsville, Brendon Carr 2; Norwalk St. Paul, Wes Fritz 2, Devin Smith.
FUMBLE RECOVERIES-Wellsville, Joe Abdalla, Greg Beatty.