Indians’ final drive falls short in narrow loss to Mariners
Special to the Whig
There has been something different in the way North East has carried itself this season.
Although their play on the field has yet to be reflected in the win column, the Indians have fought back and responded to adversity in each of their first two Susquehanna Division contests— an action that provided them
the chance to tie the game in the final minutes against Joppatowne on Friday.
Unfortunately for North East, it was unable to punch the ball across the goal line for the game-tying touchdown, as it turned the ball over on downs in the final minute to fall to the visiting Mariners 20-12.
“It was a lot film, a lot of studying the scouting reports and playing with heart. Last year, that’s not how we played. This year we’re playing with more heart than we ever had, and we’re really understanding the game of football a lot better,” Indians linebacker Gabe Goad said.“We’re not giving up. Last year, we hung our heads when we got down 7-0. We were just giving up. This year, we we’re fighting to the end.”
Joppatowne (1-4 overall, 1-1 divi- sion) scored first with 1:07 remaining in the first quarter after Thomas Michalik connected with tight end Jordan Meads on fourth-and-7 for a 21-yard touchdown.
The score remained 6-0 until the opening drive of the second half when the Indians drove 61 yards in 10 plays, culminating in a 1-yard Taylor Danglade touchdown run to tie the game with 6:35 left in the third.
North East (0-4, 0-2) then took the lead on its next offensive possession when Jalen Giles took a handoff 23 yards for a touchdown.
The score had been set up one play earlier when Danglade broke free for a 20-yard run on a fake punt.
The Mariners tied the game, 1212, in the fourth quarter when Mi- chalik passed it to Tyriq Pickney on fourth-and-2 for a 12-yard touchdown. The visitors then went up by 2 when Aaron Johnson caught a pass for a 2-point conversion on the ensuing fake extra point.
After turning the ball over on downs with 2:10 left in the fourth quarter, Joppatowne gained 49 yards on a run by David Freeman. Indians coach Chris Schleich then elected to allow the Mariners to score on an 18-yard touchdown run by Michalik to give his team a better chance to win in case they stopped the ensuing extra-point attempt, which they did.
A strong kick-off return by Giles gave North East the ball at its 45 with 1:18 left, but a short run, two incompletions and a bad snap on fourth down ended the Indians’ drive and gave Joppatowne the victory.
Despite the loss, the way North East continued to fight despite the program’s youth movement has given Schleich hope the long rebuilding process will be productive.
“I’m going to keep preaching that we are very young. We have two freshmen starting out here, lots of sophomores. No. 3 [Giles] is a sophomore. Next year, we’re returning 90 percent of this team and a very good junior varsity that’s growing. I think that if we put that together, the future is bright here,” Schleich said. “It’s part of the rebuilding process. It takes time, and you can see the kids playing harder. I love these kids. I love what we’re doing. I love the community. We just need a break. It’ll come.”