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North Penn-Mansfield wins exciting game on homecoming, 20-19, over Line Mountain

Facing a fourth-and-11 from the Line Mountain 21 yard line trailing by five with under 8 minutes to go, North Penn-Mansfield coach Tom Dickinson had an important play-call to make. He went back to the well for a wheel pass that the Panthers hit for a touchdown earlier in the evening. The result would be the same, but the process was very different.

Panther quarterback Karson Dominick improvised in the pocket and found a streaking Gavin Sexauer streaking up the sideline in traffic for a 21-yard go-ahead touchdown as North Penn-Mansfield won on homecoming, 20-19.

“It was supposed to be a wheel route to (running back Kohen Lehman),” Dominick said. “They covered it and I knew I had to fit it in there back shoulder and Gavin went and got it.”

As strange as that play was, it was a microcosm for a game that saw Line Mountain chew up the majority of the clock and total yardage all night, only for the Panther defense to get timely stops when they needed to.

“I told our defense (that they got key stops)” said Dickinson. “We stopped them when we had to.

The night didn’t start out like it would be a one-point football game. The Panthers got a dream start as they got the ball to start and promptly scored when Lehman took a handoff up through the left side of the line untouched for 57 yards. Caiden Alexander’s extra point was good to make it 7-0. Three plays later, the Panthers had forced a quick three-and-out and this had the makings of a blowout.

It was not so. After forcing a Panther punt, Line Mountain went right back to work and made it very clear that this would not be the blowout it had seemed early on. Freshman quarterback Blake Readinger threw a perfect post pattern to Aidan Herb behind the Panther defense to make the score 7-7 with 3:31 to go in the first quarter.

It looked like the Eagles would score again as a punt return by Nolan Baumert gave Line Mountain the ball inside the Panther 20 at the 19 yard line. North Penn forced a stop, though, and Line Mountain’s 36 yard field goal was wide right with 2:20 left in the first quarter.

Line Mountain would force another three-and-out, though, and go back to work on offense. Big runs by Baumer (17 carries 175 yards) got Line Mountain inside the Panther 10. Readinger kept a veer option from six yards out off the right side to make the score 13-7, after the PAT was blocked, with 10:31 to go in the second half.

The Panthers responded, though. North Penn-Mansfield drove across midfield, and Dominick found Lehman all alone on a wheel route, the same play they’d try to run for the winning touchdown in the fourth quarter. Lehman caught it at the 15 yard line and ran it in untouched for a Panther touchdown. Alexander’s extra point was good and North Penn-Mansfield led 14-13 with 8:40 to go in the half. Neither team could muster anything the rest of the half and the game went to halftime 14-13.

The Eagles got the opening kickoff of the second half and drove deep into Panther territory. Facing a 3rd and 7 from the Panther 29, Line Mountain coach drew up a surprise run call and it paid off as Baumer scored from 29 yards out to go to make the score 19-14. Line Mountain went for two, but Sexauer sacked the quarterback and Line Mountain led 19-14 with 9:13 to go in the third quarter.

Line Mountain put another drive together and looked ready to score again with under five minutes to go in the third quarter. But a fumbled snap was recovered by Daniel Sherant with 4:38 to go in the third quarter, setting up a wild final frame.

Line Mountain put another outstanding drive together and lined up a 27 yard field goal attempt, but the kick, with plenty of leg, just missed wide and the scored stayed at 19-14 with exactly ten minutes remaining.

The teams traded fumbles on back to back plays midway through the fourth quarter, but after Panther Joe Sember recovered the Line Mountain end of the fumble exchange setting up the Panther winning drive.

Lehman had gains of 14 and 19 yards on back to back plays to get the Panthers to the Eagle 20 yard line. After three plays for negative one yards, it was time for the aforementioned Dominick to Sexauer connection.

Sexauer was all over the place on both sides of the ball, and the senior was named prom king at halftime.

Line Mountain’s ensuing drive ended with an Alex Davis interception at 6:31 on the clock.

It looked like North Penn-Mansfield would be able to run significant time off the clock, but a poor shotgun snap was not handled correctly and North Penn-Mansfield gave the ball back to to Line Mountain at the Line Mountain 36 with 3:13 left.

North Penn-Mansfield stopped Line Mountain on a fourth down Baumert run just inches short with 1:50 left. Four plays later, Cam Fabian converted a fourth down of the Panthers’ own and the Panthers ran the clock out to win on homecoming Friday.

“We’re coming together,” Dominick said. “Each week we’re growing and getting better.”

North Penn-Mansfield improves to 4-4. Line Mountain falls to 0-7.

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