GREENCASTLE >> Penalties nearly cost Greencastle-Antrim the game last week.
On Friday night, one penalty in particular may have been the nail in the Blue Devils' coffin in a 20-16 loss to East Pennsboro.
Starting their final drive with only two minutes on the clock, the Blue Devils faced a four-point deficit against Mid Penn Colonial Division foe Panthers. Greencastle marched it all the way down field and got it to the Panther 1-yard line.
Then the Blue Devils were called for delay of game.
Suddenly, it was second-and-goal from the six, and after three straight running plays, Greencastle came up one yard short of the victory.
"We were prepared for this," Greencastle's Tyler Jeffreys said. "We knew we had two minutes left on the clock, and we all knew that this was going to be a big game for us in the division. We needed to play our hearts out, and we did that. We just came up short."
After Jeffreys had a huge stop on an East Penn fourth down, the Blue Devils (4-1, 1-1 MPC) started their final drive from their own 16. Spencer Meyers got hot at the right time and completed three long passes in the drive. He had throws of 22, 24 and 18 yards to Jeffreys, Derek Measell and Bailey Parker, respectively. That got Greencastle to the 1 before the costly penalty.
On second and goal from the 6, James Hines took the ball up the middle for three yards. Then Meyers had a two-yard sneak before Hines was stuffed by East Penn's Matthew Dunkleberger for no gain on the final play.
"Honestly, I don't know how we did it," Panther coach Todd Stuter said. "We had them stuffed down there, then one big play ignited them and down the field they went. (That penalty) was probably the savior. That made it six yards, then Dunkleberger made the huge play there at the end."
Greencastle coach Chuck Tinninis said, "We ran out of time. But you know what, I told my kids to keep our heads up high. We got the ball on the 16-yard line to start the drive, and marched it all the way down the field to give ourselves a shot. Our kids kept battling, and so did they. It was a good high school football game."
The entirety of the game was back and forth. Both teams scored on their opening drives and took a 7-7 score into halftime. Greencastle finally broke the scoring silence on a 30-yard field goal from Austyn Smith late in the third quarter, but East Penn answered right away.
The Panthers finally got their passing game going, and Kyle Purnell completed a 38-yard touchdown pass to Dunkleberger to go ahead.
Greencastle took one more lead on a two-yard run by Hines, but once again, the Panthers responded just minutes later. This time, it was a 12-yard pass from Purnell to Justin Gieseler for the eventual game-winning touchdown.
"That last drive where we scored was amazing," Purnell said. "We're missing a couple of linemen right now, but the following linemen just stepped right in and had a great game. Once we saw the run struggling a little bit, we knew the pass was going to be there, so we went with it."
East Pennsboro 20 Greencastle 16
GA — Demetrius Burton 20 run (Austyn Smith kick), 7:46
EP — Onasis Neely 24 pass from Kyle Purnell (Noah Wilk kick), 4:28
GA — Smith 30 field goal, 4:14
EP — Matthew Dunkleberger 38 pass from Purnell (kick failed), 2:46
GA — James Hines 2 run (pass failed), 10:54
EP — Justin Gieseler 12 pass from Purnell (Wilk kick), 8:02
EPGAFirst downs1516Rushes-yards33-13242-221Passing10-18-09-12-0Passing yards192109Total yards324330Punts2-29.53-31.7Fumbles-lost2-01-0Penalties-yards3-256-51
Rushing — EP, Neely 13-63, Kyron Dennis 14-63, Matthew Danner 1-3, Purnell 5-3. GA, Burton 11-66, Hines 18-65, Kyrin Zimmerman 4-44, Derek Measell 3-32, Spencer Meyers 6-14.
Passing — EP, Purnell 10-18-192-0. GA, Meyers 9-13-109-0.
Receiving — EP, Dunkleberger 4-86, Neely 2-34, Justin Gieseler 2-18, Zach Wertz 1-34, Dennis 1-20. GA, Measell 2-31, Brae Peck 2-17, Hines 2-9, Tyler Jeffreys 1-22, Bailey Parker 1-18, Burton 1-12.
Missed field goal — GA, Smith 33 (wide right).