Balanced attack leads Dragons past East in opener
ERIE With so many young players stepping into key roles, Warren’s season opener at Veterans Stadium against East on Saturday afternoon could be looked at much like an entrance exam.
And the Dragons passed with flying colors.
Behind a dominant effort from the offensive line, sophomore running back Austyn Cummings ran for four touchdowns, sophomore quarterback Jake Kupchella completed 12-of-17 passes and the defense limited the Warriors to just 48 yards of total offense in a 46-8 win.
“Happy with what we saw,” said Warren coach Greg Latimer. “I was pleased, the entire staff was pleased. The kids have butterflies and I’m sure some of the coaches do, too. Once we got moving, we got a little bit of synchronicity under ourselves and things moved forward.”
A choppy start, highlighted by six East penalties in the first six minutes of the game, made for a disjointed first quarter. It didn’t take long after that for the Dragons to get rolling, however, as they scored on three-straight second quarter possessions to take a 20-0 lead.
Cummings was the bell cow, scoring on runs of 1, 11 and 9 yards.
The first scoring drive consisted of 12 plays, but the next two were short, aided by a pair of East miscues.
The Warriors went 3-and-out after Warren scored the opening points of the game, and a bad snap on the punt gave the Dragons’ possession on the Warriors’ 11 and Cummings scored on the very next play.
The ensuing kickoff was misplayed by the Warriors, with Warren’s Alex Weston recovering at the East 35. A 15-yard pass from Kupchella to Devin McMeans set up Cummings’ third score in a six minute span.
“What I liked most is that we responded as a group,” Latimer said. “That was one of our concerns as a staff is how is our team going to respond to adversity? We did. The first and second quarter I was extremely proud of the kids. We got aggressive and took advantage of their mistakes.”
The defense, which was dominant all day, also got in on the scoring act, and it came after the Dragons’ only turnover of the day.
A fumble inside the East 10 as they were getting ready to score seemed to take away some of the positive momentum the Dragons had built going into halftime, but Evan Tremblay got it right back. He recovered a Warriors’ fumble at the 5-yard line and walked into the end zone just before half, making it 27-0.
Warren continued rolling on the opneing drive of the third, as completions to McMeans and Brendon Mattson set up Kupchella calling his own number from five yards out to make it 34-0.
Mattson was Warren’s leading receiver with six grabs for 55 yards, four of which went for first downs.
“Jake threw the ball very well and the receiving core made some great catches, especially Brendon Mattson on that out pattern,” noted Latimer. “Some nice, accurate passes some short, some long.”
East’s Barry Thompson got his club on the board, returning the kickoff after Kupchella’s score 79-yards for a touchdown, but that was all the Warriors would get.
Warren’s offensive line seemed to wear down East on a hot afternoon with temperatures reaching 90. Cummings went in for his final score of the game early in the fourth quarter, while Nick DeSimone also found the end zone with just over seven minutes left.
“The line, they’ve been our anchor,” noted Latimer. “We have some veterans back there Andrew Egger, Connor Rosborough, Hayden Salapak, Joey Carlson, those guys are our bread and butter, they’re our foundation. A lot of the lead blocking was the line and Marvin Bryant led the way at fullback when we ran those iso’s.”
And as for Cummings, who finished with 66 yards on 15 carries?
“He had a very successful offseason even though he was active in other sports,” Latimer said. “He found himself in the weight room. He’s a good athlete, we just have to get him going a little more north, south and not east, west. Then he can start to open that up in traffic.”
Up next is a week two date at Grove City, which promises to be a challenge.
The Eagles are coming off a 34-28 comeback win over General McLane, outscoring the Lancers 20-7 in the fourth quarter.
Last season, Warren earned a 26-22 win over GC at War Memorial Field.
“We have to improve, fine tune and get ready for a very good Grove City team,” Latimer said. “I see they had a very nice win last night (Friday). We’re excited”
Warren 0 27 7 12 46
East 0 0 8 0 8
W Austyn Cummings 1 run (Bryce Cummings kick) 11:55
W A. Cummings 11 run (B. Cummings kick) 9:11
W A. Cummings 9 run (Kick failed) 5:40
W Evan Tremblay 5 fumble return (B. Cummings kick) :19
W Jake Kupchella 5 run (B. Cummings kick) 9:47
E Barry Thompson 79 kick return (Jeric Johnson 2-point run) 9:29
W A. Cummings 5 run (Bad snap) 11:03
W Nick DeSimone 5 run (Kick failed) 7:27
First Downs 14 4
Rushes-Yards 28-142 15-(minus)11
Comp-Att. 12-17 4-11
Passing Yards 96 59
Interceptions 0 0
Total Yards 238 48
Fumbles-Lost 1-1 4-3
Penalty Yards 7-40 16-95
Warren A. Cummings 15-66, 4 TD, Kupchella 5-42, TD, Constable 4-11, Mi. Bryant 1-8, Shultz 1-7, DeSimone 1-5, TD, Ma. Bryant 1-(minus)3; East Johnson Gibbs 2-10, Johnson 5-8, Roberts 7-(minus)5, Bonaventure 1-(minus)8, Team 1-(minus)14
Warren Kupchella 12-of-17, 91 yards, Ma. Bryant 1-of-2, 5 yards; East Johnson 4-of-11, 59 yards
Warren Mattson 6-55, McMeans 3-26, Davis 1-6, Tremblay 1-5, Ma. Bryant 1-3, Morrison 1-(minus)4; East Gibbs 4-59