VARDEN — For three quarters, Western Wayne and Honesdale battled to a virtual stalemate in Shrine Bowl XX.
The Wildcats and Hornets squared off Friday night at Sharkey Rosetti Memorial Stadium for this annual event, which is sponsored by the Wayne/Pike Shrine Club.
Both teams had struggled in previous weeks and each was desperately seeking a signature win.
"Our season's going to be over in a couple of weeks, so if we're going to do anything big, it probably has to be here and now," Hall of Fame Coach Allen 'Butch' Keller said. "This is our home field and we need to step up and defend our turf."
As time wound down in regulation, Western Wayne did indeed step up and defend its home field.
Led by yet another brilliant performance from Robbie Siclari, the 'Cats scored 21 unanswered points in the fourth quarter to seal the deal on a 47-19 victory.
"I can't do anything without my line blocking for me," Siclari said just moments after receiving the Most Valuable Player trophy from Shrine Club officials.
"They were amazing all game long. They kept opening up huge holes and I just ran through them."
With this win, Western Wayne improved its overall record to 3-6. The 'Cats are 1-3 in divisional action. Coach Keller's lads close out the campaign Friday night with a road trip to Lakeland.
Honesdale, meanwhile, saw its record fall to a disappointing 2-7. The Hornets are 0-4 in the division and slated for a Week 10 home game against Mid Valley.
Opening kickoff for both of these LFC contests is slated for 7 p.m.
Back & Forth
Western Wayne won the coin toss and deferred its choice to the second half.
Honesdale elected to receive and wasted no time marching right down the field. Unfortunately for Hornet fans, quarterback Kevin Miller was intercepted at the goal line by James Berger, who returned the ball to his own 35-yardline.
From there, the spotlight turned to Siclari who began an assault on Honesdale's front seven that would last all game long. Robbie carried seven times on an 11-play drive which culminated with a 7-yard touchdown run at the 6:13 mark.
Frank Juhasz banged home the conversion attempt, giving the 'Cats a quick 7-0 lead.
To their credit, the Red & Black retaliated quickly thanks to Kyle Carney. The Hornets took the ensuing kickoff and quickly drove into Western Wayne territory.
On the seventh play of the march, Miller sprinted right and attempted an option pitch to his tailback. The ball hit the turf, but Carney reacted quickly and decisively. He picked up the piggy, reversed field, dodged two 'Cat defenders and sprinted 29 yards to The House.
Page 2 of 2 - TJ Knash connected for the PAT and with 3:40 to go in the opening stanza, the score was tied 7-7.
It was at this point in the game that Nikolai Pritchyk began to make his presence felt.
The senior fullback is earning rave reviews from Western Wayne coaches for his play over the last month of the season. On Friday night, he provided powerful counterpoint to Siclari's speed with one bruising rumble after another.
"Nikolai has been terrific on both sides of the ball the last three or four weeks," Coach Keller said. "He runs hard on offense and lays some big hits on people defensively."
Pritchyk brought the crowd to its feet midway through the second quarter, turning a quick trap into a long touchdown run. Nikolai took the handoff from Johnny Rhodes, broke a tackle at the line of scrimmage and raced 60 yards to paydirt.
Juhasz added another PAT and Western Wayne was ahead to stay at 14-7.
Honesdale unveiled its aerial assault on the next drive.
Miller completed two key passes on the march, which ended in Western Wayne's endzone. The first went to Nick Maritato on 4th and four at the 30. The second was a scrambling connection with Alex Evanitsky, which resulted in a 9-yard touchdown.
The 'Cats blocked Knash's cnoversion try, leaving the Hornets down 14-13.
Siclari then gave his team much-needed insurance at the break. Robbie closed out the first half scoring by snagging an option pitch and diving just inside the pylon for a 4-yard TD run.
"That was a pretty important drive," Coach Keller said. "It gave us some breathing room and kind of put the pressure on them to start the second half."
As it turned out, Siclari was just getting warmed up in the opening two periods. The LFC's leading rusher would tack on scoring runs of 62, 10 and 21 yards after intermission to finish up his evening with five TDs.
Siclari went over 1,000 yards for the season last week in a loss to Dunmore. He exploded for 235 yards on 25 carries against Honesdale Friday night.
Pritchyk was every bit as impressive. Nikolai needed just 10 attempts to pile up 156 yards of his own. He added a 47-yard TD run late in the fourth quarter.
Honesdale's final tally of the game came with just under a minute remaining in the third. Carney once again did the honors, sprinting in from the four.
Kyle was named the Hornets' Most Valuable Player on the strength of a 181-yard effort.
Score by Quarters...
WW (3-6) 7 13 6 21 - 47
HON (2-7) 7 6 6 0 - 19