Quarterback Ben Zechman, Wyomissing produce magic drive in loss to Neumann-Goretti

Dec. 4—PHILADELPHIA — Ben Zechman is not asked to pass the ball often for Wyomissing.

He often doesn't have to.

But with the Spartans needing a magical drive in Saturday's PIAA Class 3A semifinal against Neumann-Goretti at the Germantown Super Site, the senior produced.

Even though a fourth quarter that was a roller coaster of emotions and ended with Wyomissing giving up a 44-yard touchdown pass with eight seconds left in a 20-17 loss, it shouldn't diminish from the execution of Zechman and an offense that had to go away from its usually powerful running game.

Zechman completed 4-of-8 passes on the nine-play, 80-yard drive, including a key 29-yarder to Drew Eisenhower on a beautiful throw on a second-and-15 with 59 seconds left, then a 10-yarder for the go-ahead TD to Charlie McIntyre with 34 seconds to go.

"I mean, that's our two-minute drill," said Zechman, who ended up completing 9-of-18 passes for 115 yards. "You never really expected a team like us to do that. But I mean, guys made some plays. It was really a nice drive and we went down the field and put one in."

"He did a great job," Wyomissing coach Bob Wolfrum said. "As little as we throw, when we get into a two-minute drill we usually seem to do pretty well."

On most of the passes, Zechman, who came into the game with a 66.2 completion percentage, threw underneath to a running back, but the big thing was he was decisive and confident.

"We did it, I would say, almost to perfection," Eisenhower said of the two-minute drill. "It was amazing. Ben was slinging the rock really well, Our receivers were catching it and in our line was giving them tremendous time. I couldn't be more proud of them."

"That is something that we honestly practice every single week," guard Jack Gartner said. "And it's not something you see in the game very often, but it's a serious time when it gets to that point for us."

One reason why it did get to that point was because the District 12 champ Saints (11-3) slowed the Spartans' Wing-T offense.

District 3 champion Wyomissing (13-1), which was looking to advance to its third straight state final, came into the game averaging 344.2 rushing yards per game and 8.3 per carry.

Neumann-Goretti held them Saturday to just 147 yards on 45 carries, an average of 3.3 per rush.

In last season's state semifinal against the Saints, the Spartans ran for 348 yards on 51 carries in a 42-6 win.

Neumann-Goretti coach Albie Crosby said his team anticipated that it would have to go through Wyomissing to reach the state final, and planned accordingly.

"We kind of prepared for it all year," Crosby said of the Wing-T. "My defensive coaching staff was huge. We created different periods of practice for it, and we just tried to get ready for it all year long."

Obviously, that work paid off.

"I think they played really physical," Zechman said of the Saints. "I think they played strong. They were able to make plays. It's a very well-coached team."

"I think they were sending in blitzes on first and second down because that's when we run the most and it worked for them," running back Matt Kramer said. "Some were lucky, blitzing right in the gap, but they did a nice job."

Still, the Spartans were able to perform when they absolutely had to. Unfortunately, there were still 34 seconds on the clock.

"The amount of ups and downs are out of this world," Gartner said of the final minutes. "I mean, I just feel completely drained at this point. It's hard to put into words what I was feeling. It's hard."

"I think this group is eternally special to Wyomissing football," Zechman said. "I mean, being here for four years, some guys were to be here for three, we've never not been in the state playoffs. We've won four straight district championships. And I really think this group knows how to play together and it really showed until that last point, until the coin just didn't flip our way."