WARREN, Pa. – Warren put on an offensive fireworks show for homecoming, disposing of Titusville in a 42-17 Region 4 win.
Rewatch the game:
The Dragons (5-3) have now won three straight and are 5-1 since an 0-2 start to the season.
“Our kids played as well as I expected them to play, especially in the second half,” said Warren coach Mark Morelli. “This is a team (Titusville) that is averaging 35 points per game over the last three games and we held them to just a field goal in the second half. Offense, defense, they both played well.”
Big plays were the theme, as Tommy Nyquist and Cayden Wright both hauled in 80-yard touchdown passes from Eric Dippold. Nyquist also broke off a 69-yard touchdown run and Dippold and Wright a 49-yard touchdown connection.
Dippold to Nyquist for 80 yards:
Nyquist accounted for 292 yards of offense and four touchdowns, 202 of which came on the ground, while Dippold was 8-of-14 for 233 yards, three touchdowns, and one interception, and Wright had four receptions for 138 yards.
The trio talked about the win afterward:
It was Nyquist and Dippold hooking the first 80-yarder of the game to get the Dragons on the board at the 5:48 mark of the first quarter on their second possession.
Titusville followed and drove inside the Dragon 20, but the defense forced a turnover on downs, and Nyquist wasted little time making it 14-0, taking a snap from the Wildcat formation and racing around end for a 69-yard score.
“I think the kids were happier to play a home game on the renovated field more than anything else,” Morelli said. “The other thing they were looking forward to was getting in front of the home crowd.”
Titusville had an answer, as its defense stiffened and they got their passing game going. Ian McDonald connected with Brock Covell (25 yards) and Kameron Mong (21 yards) on touchdown passes on back-to-back possession to knot the score at 14-all.
“They caused some problems with their no-huddle,” Morelli said. “We weren’t expecting that and it took us a couple of series to adjust to that. The other problem they were causing us was with some of their alignments.”
Warren took the lead back on the ensuing possession, as Dippold found Wright in one-on-one coverage, with Wright making a going up to get the ball around midfield and breaking away from the defender for the second 80-yard touchdown pass of the half.
“Our core guys really came through for us,” Morelli said. “Tommy Nyquist, Dippold throwing the ball to Cayden Wright…when we get the big plays from those guys, generally we’re going to win the games, and tonight they came through. We couldn’t have picked a better night to do it with homecoming. We’re satisfied with the effort that they gave tonight.”
A long kickoff return set Titusville up in Warren territory to begin the second half, but Warren was able to get a stop of sorts, with Sam Reib booting a 29-yard field goal to make it 21-17.
That was it for the Rockets (3-5), however, as the Dragon defense pitched a shutout the rest of the way.
“At halftime, we just drew up some different adjustments on the board,” Morelli said. “The other key thing in the second half was we got the momentum. We stopped them, scored, and got the onside kick.”
Warren got good starting field position of its own, and Nyquist capped it off with his third touchdown of the game, a 28-yard run.
Gavin Rex’s ensuing kickoff was squibbed off a Rocket defender and the Dragons recovered.
“We were trying to squib it because our kickoff coverage was giving us some problems,” noted Morelli. “Gavin is used to kicking a soccer ball, it hit one of their guys and Matt Sowa recovered it and that was a big momentum changer as far as we were concerned.”
Moments later, Dippold hit Wright down the middle of the field for a 49-yard touchdown, and just like that it was 34-17.
Nyquist put the finishing touches on the scoring with his 3-yard touchdown run early in the fourth quarter. Ethen Senz was a workhorse in the second half, rushing for 82 of his 98 yards after halftime, including runs of 24 and 29 yards.
Defensively, the Warren defense led by Sam Harvey and others made life very uncomfortable for McDonald.
The Rockets had 250 yards of offense at halftime but amassed just 59 in the second half.
Warren, meanwhile, finished with 510 yards of total offense.
The Dragons are now at 5-3 and in contention for a potential playoff spot in Class 3A. They will have a stiff test next week when they face 7-1 Meadville.
Overall, Morelli is proud of how his team has progressed throughout the season.
“More than anything else leadership,” Morelli said of the biggest difference from the start of the season until now. “I think after we were 0-2, the seniors started to take more of a responsibility and express their desires and what they wanted to do and the direction they wanted this football team to go. That’s been the biggest change. The other biggest change was getting Isaac Werth back. He’s solidified our offensive line.”