Sayre tops Muncy for NTL-II championship
It was the classic small school Class A game any one could have asked for in Week 9. A game that came down to one play or one drive, down to the final seconds, for a league championship on the line.
That is what the audience got at Muncy’s Stanley T. Schulyer Memorial Stadium, as the Sayre Redskins stole the NTL-II championship and playoff home-field advantage away from Muncy on Friday night with a 21-17 win.
Sayre rode the coattails of 1,000-yard senior running back Isaiah Firestine until Muncy could prove it could stop the big bruising back. Firestine went over 160 total yards including a 75-yard run on the first drive of the second half to break an 8-8 tie and put the visiting team in front, 14-8. It was a lead they would not relinquish over the final 22 minutes.
“The best thing about the night is we won’t have to make the long drive and come back down here (in the playoffs),” Firestine joked after taking pictures with his team and the senior class after clinching the league title. “It’s a big deal for the senior class and the school especially since its a school that doesn’t win a lot. It’s a great confidence booster moving forward.”
Firestine and Sayre wanted to continue to build its identity of smashmouth football after its 55-28 win at Cowanesque Valley. Friday, Sayre wore down the two-way players of Muncy and made just the right amount of plays for the win.
“It was a great win for the guys. They knew what was on the line – No. 2 seed in the playoffs and NTL small-school title — Muncy is an extremely well coached team and I was not surprised the game came down to the wire,” Sayre coach Kevin Gorman said.
On the other side, Muncy wanted to do just the same and got on the board first with a nine play, 23-yard drive after Sayre’s punter Luke Horton caught the snap on a fourth-and-7 with his knee in the dirt. Muncy orchestrated a run-heavy offensive package and Ethan Gush pummeled the pile for the 1-yard score midway through the first quarter.
“It is always a great, physical battle with Sayre and we didn’t have enough big plays to get the win,” Muncy coach Sean Tetreault said.
Both Muncy and Sayre were stingy on defense in a push and pull battle of field position until a minute before halftime when Sayre broke through and Firestine broke the plane on a five yard touchdown run and successful two-point conversion to tie the game.
“Our jumbo (run) package was working tonight and our guys (Firestine, Corbin Brown and Jake Bennett) ran hard tonight and our line did a great job, that was the difference as the game wore on.” Gorman said.
A 23-yard field goal from Isaac Boring at the end of the third quarter cut the deficit to 14-11 Sayre. The Redskins responded on their next drive into the fourth quarter when Brayden Horton found Pat Casterline for a 10-yard touchdown and stretch the lead to a two possession game.
“Sayre was a physical team and our guys were shocked there in the beginning of the game. (Firestine) set the edge tonight and that was the difference. Tetreault said.
Muncy answered right back with a 36-yard touchdown pass from Branson Eyer to Ross Eyer for Ross’ ninth touchdown of the freshman’s career. But the Indians could not capitalize in the final moments of the game. With 5 minutes left and two time outs to work with, Muncy began its final drive on its own 21-yard line. Branson could not have asked for better play calling and execution which marched the Indians down to the Sayre 37. Muncy had three chances to move the chains, but that was when Sayre’s defense shut the door. Branson treid three deep balls, two to Christian Good (6 for 81 yards) and one on fourth down that was batted down intended for Ross (2 for 52, TD) which ended Muncy’s run at its second NTL title in three years.
“I was hoping we got down field and either Christian or Ross would have gotten open more, but it just wasn’t there when we needed it,” Branson Eyer said. “That will definitely be a game that I will never forget for the rest of my life.” Branson Eyer said.