Mounties stuffed on last play
DANVILLE — With their eyes trained on South Williamsport head coach Chris Eiswerth, the chorus of words coming from the Mounties’ players was unanimous.
Put the football in Gideon Green’s hands.
Why not? After all, his running, the offensive line’s bulldozer blocking scheme, and Ashton Martin’s total disregard for his body as he took out defenders are what put South Williamsport in a situation where an overtime two-point conversion could win Friday’s game with Danville.
“I said I was going to score,” Green said. “But it doesn’t always go your way.”
Eiswerth called his best play for his best player with the Mounties trailing by a point in overtime, a play which was key to helping South Williamsport overcome a seven-point fourth quarter deficit. But Danville was ready for it.
The Ironmen held up Green about five feet short of the goal line, setting off a wild celebration of their 34-33 win over the Mounties. Danville christened its new turf football field with a memorable affair full of punches, counter punches, and counter punches to the counter punches.
“It’s probably one of the greatest games I’ve ever been involved in,” Eiswerth said. “The kids showed great resiliency and heart. They exemplified everything we’re trying to do with fight and hard work and leaving it all on the field of play. Losing by one point is still a loss, but we can take a lot of great things from it.”
“We’re going to take a lot out of this game, but in the end we did lose,” Green said. “It’s bittersweet.”
It didn’t take a lot of convincing to get Eiswerth to go for two in overtime. It was the logical choice the way the Mounties had controlled the line of scrimmage throughout the fourth quarter.
After all, just to force overtime, South Williamsport needed an 86-yard scoring drive which took 21 plays and whittled 9 minutes, 6 seconds off the game clock. By the time Dean Seman kicked the extra point to tie the game, 27-27, following Green’s 1-yard touchdown run at the end of the drive, there were just 11 seconds left on the clock.
And the Mounties got there by jumping on the back of Green, a Mack truck of a human being masquerading as a high school football player. He carried 13 times on the 21-play drive, including 11 of the first 14 plays. He only stopped being fed when time and down-and-distance became a factor. But a fourth-down pass interference penalty on a reverse pass to quarterback A.J. Flick extended the drive. A screen pass to Ashton Martin set up the Mounties at the 1-yard line with 15 seconds to go and Green cashed it in for the game-tying touchdown.
Nearly a third of his 37 carries came in that final regulation drive. Nine of those carries went over the left side of the line behind center Reilly Barnes, left guard Dakota Hill and left tackle Ben Johnson.
So when it came time for the decisive two-point conversion that’s where Eiswerth went. It was his best play for his best player. It just didn’t work out this time.
“We figured they’d take their best shot with their best player and they did. We were fortunate enough to get there,” Danville coach Jim Keiser said. “Gideon’s a tough back and they have a heck of an offensive line that can move people. We knew if they started getting on us, we were going to have some problems. But the kids dug deep to make plays when we had to.”
South Williamsport used Green and the offensive line to control the football and control the clock throughout the game. Even though the game was tied, 13-13, at halftime, the Mounties had a 35-17 advantage in plays run.
Danville has no semblance of a sustained offense in the first half largely because when it did score, it did so quickly. The Ironmen needed just one play on its second possession to score on a Peyton Persing 75-yard jet sweep touchdown run. On their first second-quarter possession, they needed just two plays for the first of three touchdown passes from Peyton Riley to Shane Kozick. This one covered 79 yards.
So even though Danville ran half the plays of the Mounties’, it totaled 6 more yards in the first half. And on the flip side, South Williamsport’s two scoring drives were downright methodical in comparison.
The Mounties’ traversed 39 yards on six plays in the second quarter for the first of Flick’s two touchdown runs. It used nine plays and a key pass interference penalty to cover 42 yards for Flick’s second touchdown run to end the first half.
Danville finally took control of the football in the third quarter after South Williamsport turned a Riley fumble into the first of Green’s three touchdown runs. The Ironmen had a 17-9 advantage in plays run in the third quarter, scoring a game-tying touchdown then recovering a surprise onside kick.
The Ironmen took the lead on the third play of the fourth quarter, 27-20, with a Gannon Feldmann 1-yard run. Danville recovered another onside kick, but a holding penalty put the Ironmen behind schedule and punted away, leading to the 9-minute, game-tying drive by South Williamsport.
Danville took control in overtime when they rolled Riley left. He stopped and found Kozick dragging across the formation to the right wide open. He scored easily and Riley added the PAT for the 34-27 lead.
“It’s something I actually drew up in the sand a couple years ago down in Harrisburg at a 7-on-7,” Keiser said. “It seems to work for us, so we ran that.”
Green scored on a 7-yard run on South’s possession before the two-point conversion failed. He finished with 37 carries last night for 158 yards and a swollen right side of his face from the punishment Danville’s defense unleashed on him. It was the fifth time in his career he’s carried at least 35 times in a game. The other four came last season.
“He’s one of the best players in the state, bar none,” Eiswerth said. “We’re blessed to have him.”