MUNCY - Seconds after coach Andy Brown delivered his final postgame talk of the season, Hughesville players grasped their helmets by their facemasks and in unison began shoving their green helmets with the white H's on the side panels in the night sky in recognition of a long-awaited victory.
It took 10 weeks for the Spartans to pick up win No. 1 this season but it will be one they talk about for a long time because of who it came against.
Muncy entered Friday night needing a win to clinch the final District 4 Class A playoff spot, but its biggest rival played perhaps its best game of the season and ended those hopes with a 21-14 victory.
Muncy’s Teddy Clark (5) is brought down by Hughesville’s Braden Foresman (50) Friday night at Muncy.
"Being a Muncy game, that pumps everyone up and we knew we had to go out with a bang to end our season," Hughesville junior Clint Snyder said.
Snyder delivered two of the biggest bangs in the game with a 37-yard touchdown reception to open the scoring and a 63-yard rushing touchdown in the fourth quarter to give the Spartans a 14-point lead with under 5 minutes remaining.
He finished with 123 yards rushing and caught three passes for 78 yards. His 200-plus yards of total offense was needed because leading rusher Nick Yeager was limited due to injury.
"He really is a tremendous athlete and he needed to carry us tonight offensively and he did," Brown said. "He played his best in the fourth quarter when we needed it."
Snyder rushed for 46 yards on his first 15 carries, but for 77 on his last four.
The majority of those on his 63-yard touchdown run down the left sideline that was opened up by Alex Welch.
Muncy did close to 21-14 with a 15-yard touchdown pass from Anthony Barberio to Eli Warnick, but the ensuing onsides kick was recovered by Hughesville and Snyder ran for one more first down and the Spartans (1-9) ran out the clock for their first victory.
The Indians (6-4) will likely play in the Eastern Conference playoffs next week, but will not make a trip to Southern Columbia for a District 4 Class A semifinal.
"Bottom line is we just didn't take care of business," Muncy coach Jay Drumheller said.
And while Hughesville deserves a lot of credit for that, Muncy did hurt themselves. The Indians were penalized eight times for 90 yards, threw two interceptions in the end zone and had to use three timeouts in the second half because of the play clock or a player not in the right formation.
Hughesville was far from perfect, but unlike nine previous times this season the Spartans found a way to overcome their mistakes. The Spartans turned the ball over on consecutive offensive plays in the third quarter, but instead of dropping their heads and thinking here we go again, the defense rose up and made a play.
The first third-quarter turnover led to a Barberio 3-yard touchdown run to make the score 14-7. The second - an interception by Teddy Clark - left the Indians just 25 yards away from tying the game they trailed since 8:19 left in the first quarter. A Barberio to Maurice Brown pass gave the Indians first-and-goal from the 8, but two plays later Barberio was intercepted for the second time in the game. This time Ethan Duff stepped in front of the pass and turned the Indians away.
"We've got to push the ball in there and we don't," Drumheller said. "That was a huge defensive stand for them. That was the series of the game, I think. We score there and it's 14-14 and maybe that puts a little doubt in their minds there."
Instead, Hughesville's confidence returned.
"I was starting to get down there," said Snyder, who fumbled in the third quarter, "but our defense came back to life and all my confidence came back to life."
Hughesville watched a 10-0 lead last week against Troy turn into a 59-10 defeat. The effects of that defeat were short-lived, though, for one reason: It was Muncy week.
"People who don't have these type of rivalries don't quite understand, it's a big deal," Brown said. "It's a cliche to say throw out the records, but it holds true for this game."