It was only a 30-second span in the third quarter, but those 30 seconds in South Williamsport's 48-minute game Friday will help define its season and give one of its seniors one more lasting memory in a season filled with them.
Brandon Stonge, moments after Sayre pulled within three points of tying, broke through the line and ran 69 yards down the sideline for a touchdown. A quick Sayre turnover followed and Stonge immediately made it pay as he took the next carry 34 yards for his second touchdown in the 30-second span.
Stonge added another on South Williamsport's final drive to cap a 200-yard night on the ground as the Mounties downed the Redskins, 38-20, putting them one win away from claiming their first small school NTL title since 1995.
Tyler House of South Williamsport is tackled by Dylan Connor?Friday night at South Williamsport.
"My coach said to me 'Stonge you weren't in there on defense and now you have to do something,'" Stonge said. "I got the ball, spun away and I was gone."
His 69-yard effort showed the bruising back is capable of speeding away from perusing defenses, as well as, grinding out the tough yardage. And just for good measure, in case anyone might have doubted his ability on the short yardage plays, Stonge plunged through the line for the two-point conversion.
Stonge displayed no signs of being tired as he ripped through the line for a 26-yard score moments after Heath Newcomer stepped in front of a pass. Stonge, who added the team's final touchdown with a 19-yard run, scored on runs of 69, 26 and 19, while averaging a perfect 10 yards a clip.
"In the first half there was a lack of focus, but in the second half we came out knowing we had to put a stop to them," Stonge said. "We just kept rumbling and running our plays and won."
Dominick Bragalone got South Williamsport out in front early as he took the Mounties first play from scrimmage 78 yards down the field for a quick 6-0 lead. Matt Bartholomew finished the drive with a 2-yard plunge through the line for two points.
After the quick run to start, Bragalone spent the rest of the game on the bench due to an apparent injury. The frustration was clear as Bragalone spent the entire game in the same spot with passing teammates offering words of encouragement.
"It was kind of baffling to us," South Williamsport coach Chris Eiswerth said. "He took a shot to the head. It couldn't have been on the run, but I think on kick off he took a shot. I don't think it's anything serious, but you have to take precaution. That run, though, ignited a lot of stuff for us. He's so explosive and such a big part of the offense."
As devastating as the injury was for the Mounties, the combination of Stonge and Bartholomew (9 carries, 56 yards) picked up the slack.
"We have a group of guys that have played a lot of games together and they bucked up and continued to play," Eiswerth said.
After three goal line stands in last week's win over Hughesville, South Williamsport's goal line package came through once again, stuffing the Redskins on a two-point conversion on their lone first half touchdown.
The South Williamsport defense was led by Tyler Jenkins, who posted four tackles in the first half, including two for a loss and Justin Knee, who had an interception called back in the first, but recovered a fumble and logged a sack on the same play.
The game had a special meaning to Knee, whose grandmother passed away from breast cancer. And, with his family wearing pink shirts with her picture on them, Knee played a strong defensive game, leading the team in tackles and causing the one turnover.
"My gram died a couple year ago," Knee said. "She was really close to the family and I dedicated this game to her. It was really special and I'm really happy."
Sayre's offense, which finished with 274 rushing yards, stumbled after Stonge's two scores forced it into passing situations. Two of the Redskins final three drives, not counting their final one when the game was out of reach, ended in interceptions.
Albert Bodolus bulled out the tough yardage, scoring one touchdown and finishing with 83 yards on 21 carries. Kyle Post, Sayre's speedy, change of pace runner, was kept out of the end zone, but managed 121 yards on 20 carries.