Khari Jefferson had barely gotten any snaps until late in the game. Dealing with a couple of injuries, and while being on a team which runs the ball nearly every play, there hadn't been much use for the 6-foot-3 senior receiver.
That was, at least, until Abington's final offensive play of the game.
Quarterback David Kretschman sent a fade to Jefferson in the corner of the end zone for an 11-yard touchdown with only 26.7 seconds remaining in regulation, lifting the Ghosts to a remarkable 26-21, come-from-behind win over host Garnet Valley in a District One Class AAAA quarterfinal on Friday night.
After beating the No. 1 team in the district, Abington coach Tim Sorber couldn't have been any prouder of his team.
"I told these kids on Thursday that with the injuries we've had this year and with losing this kid and losing that kid, this is the kind of team that hasn't put their heads down,' said Sorber, who lost his starting quarterback (Anthony Lee) and backup running back (Tyler Schreiner) to injuries this season. "Especially the seniors, these kids don't put their heads down and they went to work and played extremely hard.
"This game kind of shows the type of character these kids have, which is phenomenal. This win means a lot to Abington.'
After Garnet Valley (11-1) had built up a 21-7 lead in the first half, running all over the eighth-seeded Ghosts (10-2) on the ground thanks to the play of quarterback Christian Portale and his three touchdown runs, the Ghosts cut the deficit to one score when senior running back Craig Reynolds scored his second touchdown of the half.
The Ghosts' defense made a huge stop late in the first half and trailed 21-13 going into the locker room.
"Our defense played phenomenal and we have our bend-but-don't-break defense. I guess the odds are that you can't make every fourth down,' Sorber said. "The odds were in our favor, but our defense also made big plays.'
After being unable to stop Portale in the first half, the Ghosts held the quarterback to only 23 rushing yards in the second half, following a 76-yard, three-touchdown showing in the first two quarters.
And while Abington's defense continued to shut down the Jaguars and force a few costly fumbles, Abington won the game through the air, something the Ghosts don't do very often.
"I'm so happy for Khari (Jefferson) because there's a kid who had some issues earlier in the year and for him to come out there and make a big play like that is amazing,' Sorber said. "We'll all remember that for a long time. And David Kretschman struggled in the first half, but we came out in the second half and made the throws necessary to win it.'
Kretschman found Daron Boone for a 25-yard touchdown in the third quarter to start Abington's comeback trail. After failing on a two-point conversion, the Ghosts trailed by two entering the fourth quarter.
Then the play to Jefferson happened, and Abington's sideline and crowd went crazy.
"We called a 46 fade and it felt amazing. It feels great and this is just amazing. I don't know how else to explain it,' Jefferson said. "I just tried to keep my feet in. They were shorter than me and I have long arms, so I knew I could get over (the defenders) and get the ball.'
Abington's defense stopped Garnet Valley one last time on a last-second turnover, sending the Abington students and players onto the field in celebration.
"This is the biggest win for Abington in years,' Jefferson said.
The touchdown was the only pass of the night Jefferson would catch. Reynolds rushed the ball 33 times for 166 yards and two touchdowns, while Kretschman completed 8 of 13 passes for 105 yards and two scores. He also rushed five times for 40 yards.
Abington will visit Neshaminy in the district semifinal next week. The Ghosts lost to the Redskins, 31-14, back on Oct. 25 at Abington High School.
Abington 7 6 6 7—26
Garnet Valley 14 7 0 0—21
GV — Portale 24 run (Dowd kick)
A — Reynolds 69 run (Seydel kick)
GV — Portale 5 run (Dowd kick)
GV — Portale 17 run (Dowd kick)
A — Reynolds 4 run (Kick failed)
A — Boone 25 pass from Kretschman (run failed)
A — Jefferson 11 pass from Kretschman (Seydel kick)
First downs 14 24
Rushing yards 206 250
Passing yards 105 176
Total yards 311 426
Passing 8-13-0 15-22-0
Fumbles-lost 0-0 3-3
Penalties-yards 3-20 3-25
Punts-avg. 3-32.67 1-32.0
Abington: Reynolds 33-166, 2 TD; Kretschman 5-40.
Garnet Valley: Portale 20-99, 3 TD; Bruette 17-82; Irving 13-42; Williams 2-21; McGrogan 2-3; Razanno 1-3.
Abington: Kretschman 8-13-0, 105, 2 TD.
Garnet Valley: Portale 15-22-0, 176.
Abington: Jefferson 1-11, TD; Boone 3-62, TD; Neely 3-39; Reynolds 1-(-5).
Garnet Valley: Parenti 6-107; Hendrixson 3-19; DiGiacomo 3-35; Irving 1-0; McGrogan 2-15.