By DOUG DONNELLY
READING – The longest football winning streak in Monroe County Region history came to an end Friday when the Whiteford Bobcats lost 28-6 to the Reading Rangers in the Division 8 District finals.
The Bobcat offense that came into the game averaging more than 50 points through the first 10 weeks was held to a mere first quarter touchdown against the undefeated Rangers. The loss ends Whiteford’s bid for back-to-back state championships.
“A lot of it is about perspective,” Whiteford coach Jason Mensing said. “In the end, we lost a football game, to a good football team. We didn’t do some of the things we are used to doing, but we have to learn from it.
“We didn’t get it done. Next year, we’ll try again.”
The Bobcats turned the ball over a season-high four times and were just 2-for-5 on fourth down conversion attempts. Two long drives ended with no points, one at the Reading 2-yard line.
The Rangers, on the other hand, converted key plays into points.
Reading won the coin toss and opted to receive the ball. After starting the game with two straight penalties, the Rangers faced a third-and-23 when it completed a pass that set up a Ethan LoPresto touchdown and an early 8-0 lead.
The Bobcats would score on its next possession on a 52-yard run by Logan Murphy, but Whiteford failed on the 2-point conversion and never crossed the goal line again. Reading, on the other hand, scored in the second quarter on a LoPresto 54-yard run and twice in the fourth quarter to seal the game. Both of the second half touchdowns were set up by Bobcat turnovers.
“We had four turnovers on the night which you can’t do to win football games,” Mensing said.
The Rangers held the Bobcat offense in check when it had to, forcing numerous third-and-long situations. Whiteford had 17 third-downs, converted only six, and punted three times – which is more than the last two seasons combined.
Murphy finished his career with 113 yards rushing on 21 carries. Whiteford threw the ball a season-high 13 times and finished with 218 yard of total offense.
LoPresto led Reading with 112 yards on just 10 carries while the Rangers had 263 yards of total offense. Both teams were slowed by a field that was mostly mud with spots with deep, standing water. Mensing said that wasn’t an excuse. The Bobcats were prepared, he said.
“The field conditions were the same for both teams,” he said. “We had probably our best week of practice, the focus was incredible, work ethic was incredible. When a team prepares well and plays hard, we just didn’t make the plays we needed to be successful and they did.”
Senior Treylan Hess had nine tackles and De’Shaun Williams eight to lead the Bobcat defense. Zack Bertz recovered fumble.
The Bobcat seniors leave an incredible legacy that included three Tri-County Conference championships, three District and three Regional titles in four years.
“They are a great group of guys who invested themselves for six years,” Mensing said. “They had moments and experiences that will last a lifetime. Down the road, that’s what they will remember, those great experiences. I’m really proud of the group of kids we had and what we accomplished.”
Reading 28, Whiteford 6
R – Ethan LoPresto 18 run (Ethan LoPresto run), 6:54, 1st
W – Logan Murphy 52 run (run failed), 5:18, 1st
R – LoPresto 54 run (Elijan Strine run), 6:23, 2nd
R – Anthony Willoughby 1 run (pass failed), 11:20, 4th
R – Willoughby 10 run (run failed), 3:49, 4th
First downs-plays 11 14
Rushes-yards 47-169 36-220
Comp-Att-Int 5-13-1 3-5-0
Passing yards 47 36
Fumbles-Lost 3-2 1-1
Punts-Avg 3-20.7 3-35.0
Penalties-Yards 2-20 5-25
RUSHING: Whiteford: Logan Murphy 21-113, Zack Bertz 11-45, Hunter Lake 8-8, D’Ondre Shaw 1-2, Ty Eitniear 6-1. Reading: Ethan LoPresto 10-112, Anthony Willoughby 9-55, Alex Price 5-28, Cole Boyd 2-14, Elijah Strine 6-7, Hunter Midtgard 2-2, Ben Affholter 2-2.
PASSING: Whiteford: Ty Eitniear 5-12-1 49 yards, Zack Bertz 0-1-0. Reading: Alex Price 3-5-0 43 yards.
RECEIVING: Whiteford: Bradyn Clark-Gilmore 2-33, Logan Murphy 1-9, Hunter Lake 1-4, Zack Bertz 1-3. Reading: Tyler Whinnie 1-35, Ben Affholter 1-9, Hunter Midtgard 1-(minus)-1.