READING— The Wilmington Wildcats C Team (8-0) defeated Reading on Sunday to finish their regular season with a perfect record. The Wildcats were a bit sluggish out of the gates going down 6-0 to Reading in the first quarter but they managed to buckle down on defense and score 20 unanswered points to complete back-to-back perfect regular seasons. The Wildcats are 17-1 in their last 18 games and they will go for win number 18 in that stretch when they take on the Boston Bengals on Thursday evening.
Wilmington won the coin toss and elected to receive. The opening drive only netted three yards in three plays for the Wildcats and the punt on 4th down was muffed. Reading took over and within six plays; they were on top 6-0. This was only the second touchdown the Wildcats have surrendered all season, outscoring opponents 190-12 for the year.
The Wildcat offense got going on their second possession. Runs of 11 and 20 yards by John Kenney (22 carries, 134 yards rushing, and two touchdowns) gave Wilmington a first down on the Reading 10 yard line. Kenney ran for six up the middle, followed by a tough two yard run into the teeth of the Reading defense by Kyle Penney (seven carries, 22 yards rushing).
On 4th and 2, a Kenney run up the middle tied the game at 6-6. Mikey Daley kicked the two point PAT to give the Wildcats an 8-6 lead, a lead they would never relinquish. In addition to solid line blacking, Wilmington also got great blocks from slot receiver Justin Fraser (who also played corner and defensive end) and Ryan “RB Smooth” Brewer who has turned into a top-notch perimeter blocker this season.
After giving up a score, the Wildcat defense took the field and played with a renewed vigor. Defensive ends Andrew Brandenburg and Frankie Irizarry were solid for the Wildcats. Brandenburg had 2.5 tackles, a tackle-for-loss and also had a fumble recovery while Irizarry was second on the team with four tackles, including a team leading two tackles-for-loss. Linebacker Blake Hiltz led all Wildcats with 4.5 tackles on the day including one tackle-for-loss. On the day, the Wildcats recorded six tackles in the Reading backfield and many more tackles for no gain.
Wilmington failed to score on their third offensive series and after the defense quickly shut down Reading, the Wildcat offense returned to the field for what would be their last drive of the first half. After nine yards on two carries by Kenney, quarterback Andrew Sullivan ran the QB sneak to perfection, picking up the first down for Wilmington and keeping the drive alive.
After three penalties on the Reading squad, Wilmington had the ball on the half yard line and Sullivan again ran the sneak to perfection, securing the ball and getting lower than the defenders. His touchdown put the Wildcats up 14-6 at the half.
Protecting a one score lead, the Wildcat defense came out to start the second half and continued to stymie a reading offensive attack that was held to its lowest point total all season. Linebackers Braden Hiltz (two tackles) and Joey Dumoulin (three tackles) were solid for the Wildcats. The middle of the Wilmington defensive line led by nose tackle Peter Marino (2.5 tackles), defensive tackles Kyle Kenyon (two tackles), Brett Chisholm, Nolan Fitzgerald and Michael Smolinsky.
The Wildcats took over possession and on their first series of the second half, they executed a nine play drive covering 44 yards and chewing up most of the third quarter. The drive culminated with a two yard touchdown run by Kenney, his second of the game.
The score put Wilmington on top 20-6. The offensive line blocking was solid on the drive; led by Kenyon at center, Mark Companeschi and Blake Hiltz at guard and Tommy Strow and Pat McAndrew at tackle. On this drive, the Wildcats worked in Kyle Bolis and Colin Rooney at tackle as well and both did a solid job.
With a 20-6 lead, the Reading offense had to start attacking the perimeter with outside runs and passes. The Wildcat defensive backs were solid, not allowing Reading to complete a single pass. Corners Michael Ducharme and Daley combined for 3.5 big tackles and safeties Kenney and Timmy Rivers also came up with two tackles.
The Wildcat offense took the fourth quarter to work on some new plays. Sullivan completed a pass to Kenney and he also caught a pass from Braden Hiltz on a quarterback throwback.
Sullivan became the first Wildcat player this year to rush for a touchdown, complete a pass throwing and haul in a reception in the same game. Late in the game, Hiltz and Marino came in at running back and fullback and churned out 21 yards on the final six plays to secure the victory for the Wildcats.
The Wildcats have had a tremendous regular season, finishing 8-0. Now the team readies for the playoffs which begin on Thursday evening with a date against the Boston Bengals. Time and location are to be determined.