Late TD pass lifts Shamokin to victory
COAL TOWNSHIP - Shamokin Area made some plays. ... Some big plays.
The Indians, for the most part, played outstanding defense.
And even though some things didn't go their way, they got a big break at the end.
And, they won.
For the first time since the second week of the season, and for the first time all year at Kemp Memorial Stadium, Shamokin Area (2-5, 2-3 HAC-I) left the field with a good feeling.
Tucker Yost's 19-yard, fourth-down scoring pass with 3 minutes, 3 seconds left in the game, a perfectly timed fade pattern to Zach Tillett in the corner of the end zone, drew the Indians even. Jon Deitrick's extra point kick, his third of the game, provided the game-winning point in a 21-20 come-from-behind victory over Mifflinburg Friday night.
It was part of a pretty wild night that started when Yost, on the game's opening play from scrimmage, hit a wide open Sean McLaughlin, who ran past press coverage, for what turned into a 77-yard touchdown and an early 7-0 lead.
The victory, no doubt, relieved considerable pressure that had built for the team and coaching staff.
"Finally, we found a way to win a close game," Shamokin coach Dan Foor said. "This means so much for us as far as confidence."
And still, the victory wasn't secured until 55 seconds remained.
Mifflinburg followed Shamokin's go-ahead score by driving to the Indians' 33. Shamokin's defense, as it had done when put on the spot most of the night, forced the Wildcat's into a fourth-and-15. Cats' quarterback Devin Hendrix had Kyle Failor open in the end zone, put a pass on the money and Failor, who rushed for 140 yards and caught a 17-yard scoring toss from Hendrix earlier, dropped the ball.
"I feel bad for that young man (Failor), but our kids finally got a break," Foor said. "When he (Failor) went out to the wing, we knew what was coming. He got behind us. He was open."
After Shamokin's early 7-0 lead, Mifflinburg scored twice in the second quarter - a pair of 1-yard runs by Tanner Bingaman and Daniel Danowsky - to go up 13-7 at the half. Early in the third, Hendrix' 17-yard scoring pass to Failor followed Nate Baker's block of a Tillett punt and made the score 20-7.
Two other times in the third quarter the Wildcats had great scoring opportunities snuffed out by the Shamokin defense.
Early on, Dylan Yost's recovery of an Indian fumble set the Wildcats up at the Shamokin 27. That possession ended with a missed 37-yard field goal.
Later, another Yost fumble recover had the Wildcats at the Shamokin 25, but that threat was ended when Failor was tackled for a 3-yard loss on a fourth-and-two play.
"Our defense, in the second half, was outstanding," said Foor. "We gave them too many opportunities, but our defense came up big."
Shamokin's comeback began late in the third quarter when Preston Burns capped an 8-play, 83-yard drive with an 11-yard scoring run to cut the deficit to a touchdown.
The Indians' winning drive began early in the fourth when the defense forced Mifflinburg to punt and the offense took over at its own 26. On the fifteenth play of the drive, faced with a fourth and six, they used their final timeout and set up the winning play.
"Coach (Shawn) Zalinski called that play," Foor said. "He called that fourth-down touchdown play."