By: Terry Pruyne | Towanda Daily Review | November 19, 2011
BLOSSBURG - There are games, moments, or single plays that define a team. With a 36-38 win in overtime over Tamaqua, North Penn might have used all three to define their team and season. And they earned the Eastern Conference Championship.
The Panther came out from halftime with a 12-0 lead only to see that lead diminish very quickly. On the second half kickoff, Jarred Muffley rumbled to North Penn's 17 before being tackled from behind by Taylor Hillson. Muffley carried the ball three straight times, scoring from 7-yards out. Lance Williams added the extra point.
The Panther answered the touchdown, sparked by a 42-yard bomb from Jason DeHaven to Sam Bonhert at the 15-yard line. It took eight plays before Skye Stiner punched the ball over from the one on fourth-and-goal. DeHaven found Hillson in the endzone for the conversion for a 20-7 lead midway through the third.
But Tamaqua, who survived double overtime the week before to advance to the finals, were ready to answer the ball themselves. Aided by a personal foul call and four runs by Muffley for 48 yards, the Blue Raiders scored on a 12-yard run by Muffley to once again close the lead.
On the first play of the next drive, Stiner went over 100 yard for the game and 1600 on the season, but the honor was short lived after Tamaqua intercepted DeHaven at the Blue Devils' 30-yard line.
The Blue Devils followed with six of the next seven plays going to Muffley. Facing a third-and-nine, freshman QB Brett Kosciolek was nearly intercepted by Bonhert, but the officials called pass interference on Bonhert. Giving Muffley the ball two more times produced a touchdown and a 21-20 lead for Tamaqua.
After the teams traded defensive stops, the Blue Devils punted to Marquis Delgado, who muffed the fair catch. Four plays later Muffley scored from three yards out for a 28-20 lead with 4:51 left in the contest.
On the following series, North Penn watched their hopes fade with a personal foul penalty, an illegal man downfield penalty that negated a 15-yard gain, and finally a DeHaven interception by, you guess it, Muffley.
But as quickly as the gods seem to be shining on someone, they seem to taketh away. Taking over on the North Penn 44, Muffley fumbled on the next play and Taylor Hillson recovered. Aided by a 10-yard run by Delgado, a facemask, and an offsides penalty, the Panthers found themselves on the 11. On the next play DeHaven tossed a fade into the corner of the endzone to Delgado. The two hooked up again on the conversion to tie the game with two minutes left.
After both teams stalled offensively and maybe from exhaustion, the game headed into overtime with North Penn taking the first shot at the endzone from the ten. After a Delgado 2-yard loss, Bonhert jumped over the defender to come down with a DeHaven pass for the score. DeHaven then connected with Hillson for the conversion, but it was called back on a holding call and the second try failed, leaving the door open for the Blue Devils.
On the first play, the Panthers' D stopped Muffley for no gain. On the next play, Kosciolek hit Muffley on a pass, but DeHaven smashed into Muffley, holding him to a 5-yard gain. After a Muffley 1-yard gain, the Panther stopped a Kosciolek pass at the one to end the game.
And maybe head coach Tom Dickinson said it best: "We scored in overtime. These kids grew up and won a championship."
Or maybe DeHaven said it best: "Unbelievable!"