EMORY — Trailing Ferrum by four points with six minutes remaining in the season opener, everything that could have gone wrong for Emory & Henry’s offense apparently did.
After the defense bought the Wasps the chance for a two-minute drill, everything that went wrong turned out right.
Running back Caleb Jennings collected a pass from quarterback Drew Piscopo, ducked under two would-be tacklers and scrambled 11 yards to score with 14 seconds on the clock as the Wasps took a 24-21 win over the Panthers at Fullerton Field.
“I hate to say it, but Drew made the wrong read. That defensive end came out on me, when they do that you’re supposed to go to the other side,” said Jennings, whose 10- yard scramble at fourth-and-7 kept the winning drive alive. “When I saw (the end) come, he threw the ball and I just knew what I was going to have to do.”
Piscopo, a sophomore making his first start, explained that he’d received headset instructions to look for Jennings outside on that screen play if the outside linebackers pinched. He had faith that the former Richlands standout would elude the pursuit.
“I’ve seen him make eight people miss,” said Piscopo, who passed for 103 yards and rushed for 40, including a 15-yard scoring keeper in the first quarter.
Piscopo admitted to reading off the wrong play band during the two-minute drill. Execution ultimately trumped confusion over the script.
“On the regular wristband, it said play No. 7. That was the outside zone play that Caleb ran, got the first down jumped and went out of bounds. What a great play! And it wasn’t the play that was supposed to be run,” said Wasps coach Don Montgomery, whose squad led 10-7 at the half thanks to Matt Turchin’s 30-yard field goal in the second quarter.
Turchin went 3-for-3 on point-after kicks.
The final drive’s inexplicable rightness of being stood in contrast to the Wasps’ offensive reaction after Matt Dobson’s 2-yard TD plunge and Scott Puschell’s PAT kick put Ferrum ahead 21-17 with 6:08 remaining.
That E&H series shuddered on Dennis Hardy’s sack of Piscopo for a loss of 7, but Piscopo recovered the loose ball on the play. On the following snap, an unsportsmanlike conduct flag on wide receiver Anthony Sims doomed the possession outright.
A 55-yard punt by T.J. Frazier gave the Wasp defense solid field position for its most meaningful stand of the game. Ferrum burned one timeout and E&H took two before the Panthers punted it to the Emory 31-yard line with 2:44 left.
“The defense was going to hold them. I just knew it. I knew if we had a chance and didn’t make stupid penalties, we had a chance to win this game,” said Jennings, who had 250 all-purpose yards.
He rushed for 163 yards, including a 37-yard scoring run at 6:11 in the third period.
Ferrum (0-1) got a 7-yard scoring run from Aaron Johnson in the first quarter and cut its deficit to 17-14 in the fourth on Zack Lewis’ 21-yard TD scramble.