SHIPPENSBURG >> With 45 seconds remaining in Friday's football game, Waynesboro scored a go-ahead touchdown that looked like it would lead the Indians to victory.
"I'm pretty sure everybody thought it was over," Shippensburg's Cole Friese said.
Everyone did. But Friese proved them all wrong.
The Indians squibbed their kickoff, and although Friese bobbled the ball, when he scooped it up, he found a huge gap, broke through a defender and scored a 60-yard touchdown.
Shippensburg's Homecoming crowd exploded, as the Greyhounds captured a thrilling 31-27 Mid Penn Colonial Division victory.
"That kickoff scared me," Ship receiver Wade Mills said. "I thought they'd get the ball, to be honest, but then Cole got it, and the tears started rolling down my face. I was so happy. You saw the sideline and the stands – we all went nuts. It was awesome."
Ship coach Eric Foust said, "They kick a lot of onside kicks, so we didn't have a lineman on our kick return team. That hurt us early in the game, but at that point in time, it kind of saved our butts a little bit. The big thing was, we finished the game. We did some things well enough to win."
But the Greyhounds (4-2, 1-1 MPC) weren't home free just yet. After three incomplete passes and a delay of game penalty, Waynesboro (3-3, 0-2 MPC) picked up a first down on a hook-and-ladder, and Brady Riddell spiked the ball, giving his team one last chance from their own 32.
On the ensuing play, Waynesboro pulled out some magic. Riddell passed the ball to Matt Peck, who hooked it Jake Wertz. Wertz ran the ball 15 yards before pitching a lateral pass to Charlie Patterson, who nearly pulled off the unthinkable.
Patterson scooted around the left side and bullied his way down the sideline until Ship's Adam Houser made a game-saving tackle for the Greyhounds at the 3-yard line.
"We just didn't give up," Friese said. "That's the biggest thing; you cannot give up. Once we scored that touchdown, we just had to play defense until the very last second."
Shippensburg got a big boost on the last play of the first half, as well. Waynesboro looked like it would take a 13-3 lead into halftime, but on fourth-and-five from their own 32, the Indians tried to make something happen.
Instead, Mills made something happen. He picked off the pass, and ran it back 44 yards for a pick-six.
"I think that was huge," Mills said. "If we would've gone into the half down by that much, I don't know if the outcome would be the same. We were getting beat, and we weren't doing anything on offense. We couldn't get the ball moving, so we had to do something on defense."
Shippensburg then took a lead on the first play of the second half. This time, Friese got a huge block on the right sideline from Zion Ware, and he took it to the house for a 62-yard touchdown.
Waynesboro struggled all evening with penalties that seriously hindered its offense. The Indians had 15 calls against them that totaled 151 yards.
"It was a lot of stupid little mistakes," Indian coach Steve Myers said. "But these close games are what you're going to get once you get into conference games. You're playing hard; you're playing tough. It's supposed to be ugly; it's football."
Shippensburg 31, Waynesboro 27
W — Brady Riddell 5 run (kick failed), 9:43
W — Jake Wertz 11 run (George Souders kick), 3:09
S — Jackson VanHorne 25 field goal, 6:46
S — Wade Mills 44 interception return (VanHorne kick), 0:00
S — Cole Friese 62 run (VanHorne kick), 11:44
W — Riddell 1 run (Souders kick), 3:40
S — Cody Gustafson pass from Tyler Gustafson (VanHorne kick), 0:44
W — Matt Peck 6 pass from Riddell (Souders kick), 0:45
S — Friese 60 kickoff return (VanHorne kick), 0:34
WayShipFirst downs1212Rushes-yards42-18732-127Passing8-27-111-25-0Passing yards143145Total yards330272Punts10-36.18-35.1Fumbles-lost1-02-2Penalties-yards15-1516-59
Rushing — Way, Wertz 23-109, Riddell 6-28, Aiden Smith 7-28, Brady Beckner 5-16, Mason Frampton 1-3, Peck 5-3. Ship, Friese 8-68, Zion Ware 15-35, Adam Houser 4-20, T.Gustafson 5-4.
Passing — Way, Riddell 8-27-143-1. Ship, T.Gustafson 11-25-145-0.
Receiving — Way, Peck 3-18, Charlie Patterson 2-61, Smith 1-38, Wertz 1-26, Beckner 1-0. Ship, C.Gustafson 6-102, Mills 3-41, Houser 1-6, Friese 1-4.