North Schuylkill Holds on Despite Spirited Schuylkill Haven Comeback
Dawson Evitts trotted out and lined up for a 25-yard field goal with just under five minutes left in the game. Schuylkill Haven had come storming back from a 12-0 first half deficit, and found themselves trailing North Schuylkill 18-17 with a chance to take the lead.
Evitts had drilled one from 34 yards out in the first half and is considered by many to be one of District XI’s best kickers. With his steady and reliable leg, the odds were stacked against North Schuylkill to mantain their one-point lead.
Evitts’ kick just barely evaded the upright and missed wide left. The Spartans breathed a major sigh of relief and hung on to their one-point lead, winning 18-17.
The kick ended up being Schuylkill Haven’s last opportunity to win the game, as Mike Farr’s Hurricanes dropped to 0-4 on the season.
“Schuylkill Haven is probably the best 0-4 team in the state,” said North Schuylkill head coach Wally Hall. “This is two games now where our kids had to rise up and play and they did.”
The difference ended up being a 14-yard run by fullback Tyler Elsdon, which put the Spartans back in the lead 18-17 with 1:04 left in the third quarter.
Elsdon’s touchdown resulted just a few minutes after quarterback Doug Weist found his top receiver Scotty Grigas on a screen pass that went for a 70-yard touchdown, but was called back for holding.
The lethal combo of Weist and Grigas got North Schuylkill’s scoring started midway through the first quarter, when they connected on a 15-yard touchdown. Grigas finished with 9 receptions for 105 yards and a score.
On the Spartans’ next possession, Mitch Wagner took a sweep right and raced 93 yards down the near sideline to extend the lead to 12-0 with three minutes left in the first quarter. Wagner carried the ball 24 times for 168 yards and a score on the night.
While Evitts 34-yard kick put the Hurricanes on the board towards the end of the first half, Schuylkill Haven faced a 12-3 halftime deficit that seemed unlikely to overcome.
Schuylkill Haven came out of the second half gates angry, as Jake Luckenbill and Kobe Brish scored a pair of touchdown runs that gave Haven a 17-12 lead with six minutes left in the third quarter. Brish continued his streak of impressive games with 129 yards and a touchdown, even after sitting out a few drives due to cramping.
“I’m proud of our kids for coming through,” said Hall. “We lost our edge a little bit there, but being 4-0 is great.”
Schuylkill Haven, the defending Schuylkill League “small school division” champs, shockingly defeated all four “big school division” opponents last season. This year, the road has been much tougher, as the Canes have fallen short in four close games. North Schuylkill remains unbeaten.
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