Special Team Play Clinches Playoff Spot For Rangers
By Brian Ptashinski @BPtashinski on Twitter.
WILKES-BARRE – Thursday night at a well attended high school football game at Wilkes-Barre Memorial Stadium, it was the Northwest special teams that came through in the clutch. With just 6.3 seconds remaining in a 14-13 game, Tyler Stevens made the play of the season for the Rangers as he blocked a potential game winning 41-yard attempt by Ken Macko at the end of regulation, giving the Rangers a 14-13 win.
After a scoreless first quarter, Northwest got out to a 7-0 lead after Brandon Hardiman picked off Meyers’ pass in the end zone giving his team possesion at the 20. The drive concluded with a nine-yard pass from QB David Piestrak to Ezra Judge, who made a diving catch for the score with under a minute to go in the half.
Back-to back fumbles by the Mohawks gave Northwest great field position to start the second half, but the Rangers could not capitalize. Meyers caught a break after the second fumble as DB Je’Vondra McClair scooped up a Northwest fumble and scampered in from 44 yards out tieing the score at seven with 5:55 left in the third quarter.
Macko connected on a 35-yard PAT after an unsportsman-like conduct call went against the Mohawks. On the ensuing drive Northwest again turned the ball over after an interception set Meyers up at their 46. Reese Patronick capped off the drive with a nine-yard run. The two-point conversion failed leaving the score at 13-7 with 46 seconds left in the quarter.
The Rangers, got the ball back after an exchange of punts with about eight minutes left in the contest at their own eight-yard line. Piestrak went back to what worked in the first half score, a slant pass to Judge. This time he caught it in stride at the goalline, giving the rangers a 14-13 lead with 2:57 to play.
Meyers then went into hurry-up mode with backup QB Willy Wallace in the game and having the ball at his own 22. Wallace connected on two third down conversions in the drive that stalled on the Ranger 21 with 6.3 ticks left on the clock. Meyers sent Macko out to attempt the field goal but he was denied by Stevens.
“I saw they had a weakness on their first attempt at a field goal. I just couldn’t get there, but Judge did and made the block. I knew I had to make it this time to keep us unbeaten in the conference. I had to get this for my team,” Stevens said.
Coach Lon Hazlet said of his team, “It was a great play by our quarterback on that fourth down situation. We were trying to leave little if no time on the clock for them(Meyers) to come back. It didn’t quite work out but a great throw did. I am so proud of my team.”
Northwest(6-3) clinched a spot in the District 2 Class A championship game against Lackawanna Trail(6-2), as three-time defending champion Old Forge was eliminated with the Northwest win. Tunkhannock will be up next for the Rangers next Friday night, which will conclude the regualr season.
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