York, PA -
Despite holding a slim lead, the scenario was the last thing Northeastern wanted to see late in its season-opening game against York Catholic.
The ball in the hands of Fighting Irish quarterback James Dougherty inside the Bobcats 35-yard line, with a first down and less than a minute on the clock.
After all, Dougherty was a thorn in the Northeastern side all night, finishing with 384 yards passing, completing 20-of-30 attempts with three touchdowns. And he had already marched his team from its own 34-yard line.
However, Bobcats linebacker Derrick Stahl finally got loose. The senior sacked Dougherty for a 12-yard loss, forcing a spike to stop the clock and a desperation play that came up shy of a first down, cementing Northeastern's 33-28 win over York Catholic.
"It was only a matter of time before Derrick Stahl was going to make a play," Bobcats coach Brendan Brown said. "He made a big play. He wasn't going to let his team lose ... Thank God, we don't play any more teams that throw like them."
"We knew if he had time we were in trouble," Brown said of Dougherty. "Their line did a great job. I thought we'd get more pressure."
Of course, Northeastern had its own offensive power in running back Daniel Adams, who racked up 173 yards on 28 carries in the game in which the teams combined for 768 yards and 37 first downs.
With the Irish forced on stopping him, senior quarterback Alex Miller found Joe Beckhardt down the sideline for 40 yards. Two plays later, Miller blasted over from 1-yard out for his third touchdown run of the game and the winning score with 4:50 left to play.
"We can't put our heads down," York Catholic coach Eric Depew said. "It hurts, but I think we are heading in the right direction. We were physical. That is what I am looking for coming into the season."
Adams ran for 122 yards and scored twice in the first half, the second of which gave the Bobcats a 27-14 lead at the break.
"I just run hard, stay low and keep my feet moving," the senior Adams said of his running style.
However, the Irish adjusted their defense, forcing the first punt of the game to open the second half.
Matt Lehr cut the lead with his 3-yard run midway through the third quarter and following another Northeastern punt, Dougherty gave the Irish a 28-27 lead, zipping a 5-yard touchdown pass to sophomore Qua'Shawn Grooms.
The season was barely a minute old when Dougherty notched his first scoring strike, this one to Aaron O'Brien, who made a nice catch and took off for a 77-yard touchdown.
Seven straight carries and 51 yards by Adams put the ball at the Irish 1 and Miller punched it in knotting the game on the Bobcats first possession.
Just like on the first drive, it took York Catholic three plays to find the end zone when Dougherty hit Lehr over the middle and the running back cut outside and scampered to the end zone for a 14-7 lead.
But Northeastern responded with a 10-play 66-yard drive, capped by Adams' 4-yard run tying the game at the end of the first quarter.
York Catholic 14 0 14 0 -- 28
N'eastern 14 13 0 6 -- 33
YC -- Aaron O'Brien 77 pass from James Dougherty (Dougherty kick), 10:53
Ne -- Alec Miller 1 run (Eathan Qualters kick), 5:49
YC -- Matt Lehr 50 pass from Dougherty (Dougherty kick), 4:27
Ne -- Daniel Adams 4 run (Qualters kick), :49
Ne -- Miller 5 run (Qualters kick), 4:07
Ne -- Adams 2 run (kick failed), :20
YC -- Lehr 3 run (Dougherty kick), 6:27
YC -- Qua'Shawn Grooms 5 pass from Dougherty (Dougherty kick), :38
Ne -- Miller 1 run (pass failed), 4:50
-- YC -- Ne
First downs -- 20 -- 17
Rushes-yards -- 27-55 -- 47-258
Passing -- 20-30-2 -- 5-10-0
Passing yards -- 384 -- 71
Total yards -- 439 -- 329
Punts -- 1-40.0 -- 4-40.8
Fumbles-lost -- 2-0 -- 4-0
Penalties-yards -- 3-16 -- 8-72
Rushing -- York Catholic, Matt Lehr 20-61, Qua'Shawn Grooms 3-19, James Dougherty 4-(-25); Northeastern, Daniel Adams 28-173, Jordan Kearse 9-60, Alec Miller 8-26, Nick Yinger 1-1, Team 1-(-2).
Passing -- York Catholic, James Dougherty 20-30-2-384; Northeastern, Alec Miller 5-10-0-71.
Receiving -- York Catholic, Qua'Shawn Grooms 7-90, Joseph Rost 5-72, Matt Lehr 3-105, Joshua Elsen 2-18, Aaron O'Brien 1-77, Alex Williams 1-15, Scott Bartkowiak 1-7; Northeastern, Zach Moyer 3-25, Joe Beckhardt 2-46.