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Nazareth Wins Wild Back And Forth Game Over Parkland, 24-17

Written by: on Saturday, November 18th, 2023. Follow David Mika on Twitter.


NAZARETH – It was back in September when these two unbeaten teams first met this season. It was the Trojans winning that game on a late touchdown run by Trey Tremba. This time it was the Blue Eagles turn to get the late touchdown. Logan Hilarczyk stripped the ball away from Parkland’s Leo Dauberman. Marquez Wimberly picked it up and ran 74 yards for the final score as time ran out in the game. After a wild back-and-forth fourth quarter, the second-seed Nazareth Blue Eagles beat top seed Parkland Friday night at Bethlehem Area School District Stadium 24-17 to win the District 11 6A title.

The Blue Eagles moved the ball in the first half, using up the clock and moving the ball down the field, but came up empty. They had more opportunities than Parkland, but couldn’t convert.  On the final play of the first half, they moved offensive lineman Sean Kinney to fullback. But a goal-line stance by the Trojans kept the game scoreless heading into halftime.  

In the third quarter, both teams were able to kick field goals. First, the Trojans ended the scoreless drought on an Aidan Gallagher 29-yarder with 9:28 left in the quarter. Nazareth’s Nathan Baker calmly kicked a 33-yard field goal later in the quarter. Heading into the fourth quarter,  tied at 3.

After not much offense through three quarters, things started to really heat up. The Trojans went up 10-3 on a perfect pass by Luke Spang to Dauberman for a 36-yard touchdown with 11:46 left in the game. 

Nazareth answered right back. Jed Bendekovits’ 26-yard run up the middle tied the game up at 10 with 7:48 remaining in the game. 

Like a good heavy-weight fight, the Trojans counter-punched. Tremba had a 14-yard touchdown run with 3:31 left which put Parkland up 17-10. You had to wonder if a late Tremba touchdown was going to be the difference again for Parkland.

But this time it was the Blue Eagles’ turn. Nazareth drove 80 yards and capped off the drive with an amazing 25-yard touchdown run by Peyton Falzone with 1:08 left in the game. The score was 17-16 Parkland.

The game came down to a two-point conversion. The last time the Eagles were in this spot was in 2019. Nazareth beat Parkland 22-21 on the “Nazareth Special” for the District 11 6A title on a two-point conversion in overtime.

“Last time this happened, in 2019, my son (Peyton) was a ball boy at that point and I remember hugging him after that game and I was crying and he was crying and he said Dad I am so happy,” said Head Football Coach Tom Falzone. “Here we are and he is now the quarterback and I am so proud of him.” 

The Blue Eagles lined up for the two-point conversion and possibly the lead. Mason Kuehner in the wild Cat somehow found Frankie Mroz for the two-point conversion and the lead, 18-17.

Frankie snapped the ball to me and I thought maybe I could run it in,” said Kuehner. “But Frankie ran his route and I found him and he went up and made a great catch.” 

But it seemed like whoever had the ball last might come out with the win. The Trojans drove down quickly in Blue Eagle territory. Spang hit Dauberman up the middle but the ball was stripped and Wimberly scooped it u and ran it in for the score as time ran out sealing the win. 

Falzone said, “Look what he (Wimberly) did, he made plays on both sides of the ball for us tonight,” 

Also, Falzone said after the game, “This was an emotional week for our team. Assistant coach Bob Panny was in the hospital and another assistant, Rob Petrosky, lost his father.”

“I am so proud of these kids tonight,” said Falzone. “It was like a heavyweight and I didn’t want to go into overtime, so we went for the two-point conversion.”

Nazareth will face the winner of Lincoln or St. Joseph’s Prep who play on Saturday afternoon.

Peyton Falzone passed for 181 yards on 14 of 25 passes
Jed Bendekovits rushed for 147 yards and one score
Mason Kuehner caught 9 passes for 139 yards

Luke Spang passed for 167 yards and one touchdown
Trey Tremba rushed for 110 yards and a score
Leo Dauberman caught 3 passes for 77 yards and one score

Scoring Summary:

Final 1st 2nd 3rd 4th Final
Nazareth Area 0 0 3 21 24
Parkland 0 0 3 14 17

Third Quarter:
P: Aidan Gallagher 29-yard field goal 9:28
N: Nathan Baker 33-yard field goal 4:06

Fourth Quarter:
P: Leo Dauberman 36-yard pass from Luke Spang (Aidan Gallagher kick good) 11:46
N: Jed Bendekovits 26-yard run (Nathan Baker kick good) 7:48
P: Trey Tremba 14-yard run (Aidan Gallagher kick good) 3:31
N: Peyton Falzone 25-yard run (Frankie Mroz pass from Mason Kuehner) 1:08

N: Marquez Wimberly 74-yard fumble return (no extra-point attempted) 0:00

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