Fleetwood football tops Conrad Weiser behind rushing attack

Sep. 2—In just his second game in a Fleetwood uniform, running back Dakota Thomas made a splash.

The hard-running junior plowed through defenders on his way to three touchdowns and 137 yards, helping lift the Tigers to a 30-21 win over Conrad Weiser in a non-league game on Friday night at Fleetwood.

"This is a huge win," Thomas said. "It feels amazing."

Thomas formed half of the Tigers' stout rushing attack, as the Tigers ran for 235 yards. Thomas had 137 yards on 15 carries and senior running back Czion Brickle had 103 yards on 16 carries.

"They complement each other very well," Fleetwood coach Steve Pangburn said. "Czion could make you miss in a phone booth and Dakota is there to run you over."

Thomas transferred from Kutztown, where he played running back, to Oley Valley prior to the school year. He joined the Tigers' football team thanks to their co-op with the Lynx, and has solidified his position as Fleetwood's power back.

"The kid's been amazing," Pangburn said. "He's just come ready to work."

Despite the big night on the ground, the Tigers' offense got off to a bit of a slow start. Fleetwood senior William Maurek opened the scoring with a 32-yard field goal late in the first quarter.

Thomas found the end zone less than three minutes later, scoring a 30-yard touchdown on his first carry of the game to make it 10-0 after the extra point.

After missing a 29-yard field goal early in the second quarter, Maurek redeemed himself on the following drive with a successful 29-yard field goal to make it 13-0. Maurek converted 2-of-3 field goal attempts and 4-of-4 extra-point attempts.

The Scouts (0-2) got on the board in the final minute of the first half, as junior quarterback Donovan Gingrich found wide receiver Evan Rittle for a 23-yard touchdown to make it 13-7 after the extra point. Gingrich finished 6-of-16 passing for 125 yards and two touchdowns.

Fleetwood (2-0) began the second half with a methodical drive that ended with a 1-yard touchdown plunge from Thomas to make it 20-7 after the extra point. Quarterback Jack Riffle helped guide the Tigers' offense on the drive, and the senior finished 13-of-19 passing for 113 yards.

"Jack is steady," Pangburn said. "We're blessed to have him."

Both offenses broke loose after that, as Conrad Weiser scored on the next play from scrimmage with a 67-yard touchdown run form senior Ousmane Conde to cut the deficit to 20-14 following the extra point. The running back finished with 120 yards and the score on 15 carries.

Fleetwood fired right back, as Thomas ran for a 67-yard touchdown of his own on the next play from scrimmage. He also bowled his way into the end zone on the ensuing two-point conversion, extending the Tigers lead to 28-14 early in the third quarter.

"There are times in a ball game where you need to put the ball in a guy's hands who you know is going to get the job done, and that's exactly what he did," Pangburn said. "That run up that sideline was amazing."

Conrad Weiser scored again just over two minutes later, as Gingrich found Rittle for an 11-yard touchdown to make it a one-score game. A junior, Rittle had two catches for 34 yards and two scores.

The Tigers sealed the win in the final two minutes of regulation, as Gingrich stepped out of the back of the Scouts' end zone to give Fleetwood the safety, and some momentum heading into Week 3.

"This is a very big win," Thomas said. "The confidence is through the roof right now."