TREDYFFRIN — Eric Cook had a night to remember in his last home game at Teamer Field.
He, like 20 other Conestoga seniors, walked off the Pioneers' home field a winner Friday night. Just the way head coach John Vogan wanted.
Cook returned the opening kickoff 92 yards to the end zone as Conestoga rode that momentum to hold off Springfield, 24-14, in a Central League game.
The senior had a big smile on his face throughout the night, one he'll never forget.
"I couldn't have done this without my teammates because they helped execute that block to set me up for that score,' Cook said. "I'm just glad I could top it off and show everyone what I got. I'm really happy and excited to be a part of this team.'
Cook's touchdown on special teams got the Pioneers rolling, but the defense stepped up on the Cougars' fourth drive of the game.
After three consecutive first-down plays by Springfield, Hunter Eaton forced a fumble from Cougars quarterback Brian Allen and took the ball 80 yards the opposite way to give Conestoga a 14-0 lead.
Allen and the Cougars were just getting started with a prolific no-huddle attack that rallied them back into the game.
Allen rushed for a 43-yard score on the ensuing drive to pull the Cougars to within a score at halftime, trailing 14-6.
In the first half, Allen had 83 passing yards and 76 rushing yards after entering the game on Springfield's third series.
Conestoga's defensive struggles continued on the opening possession of the second half. Allen found Dan Dickinson for an 8-yard touchdown on fourth-and-7 to cap off a 13 play drive to tie the game at 14-14.
The Pioneers (5-2, 6-2) needed a score on the next drive and got it thanks to Tim Miller and Marty Dorsey. The pair connected on a 39-yard pass to set up a 22-yard field goal by Blaise Toroni to give Conestoga a 17-14 lead.
Then the defense stepped up when it mattered most, the fourth quarter. The Pioneers bent, but did not break.
"Honestly we did not make any adjustments, we just played harder,' Andrew Utter said. "We tackled better after coach Vogan challenged us and got the points needed to get us a win.'
That score needed was a Parke Schweiter 3-yard run that put Conestoga up 10 with 7:59 to play. Schweiter finished with 23 carries for 125 yards on the night.
The defense assured Conestoga a victory when Alex Silverstein stripped Collin Braconnier in the red zone with 4:34 remaining. From that point on, the seniors felt they would walk off winners.
"This season has been incredible,' Utter said. "I've always been good at this sport and I owe it all to Coach Vogan.' Allen finished with 96 rushing yards and a score. He also completed 15-of-27 passes for 168 yards and a touchdown.
Bracannier had 29 carries for 128 yards for the Cougars (3-4, 4-4).
Springfield head coach Tom Moore gave all the credit to Conestoga for the win, but was proud of the way Allen and his team rallied from an early deficit.
"These guys bust their tail for 48 minutes and fight until the end,' Moore said. "Just can't turn the ball over and give up big plays, but we're a young team. We just didn't play a complete game. We'll get this figured out and hopefully it's this week.'
Meanwhile, Vogan got to walk off the field with a smile, similar to the way his 21 seniors did on this night.
"These guys played great and rose to the occasion,' Vogan said. "The goal was to send these seniors off with a ' W.' I couldn't have been more proud.'