Red Land quarterback Jake Radic was enduring a bad stretch in a bad evening.
Regardless, he was able to collect himself late to lead his team to a 17-7 victory over York Suburban on opening night of the 2015 football season.
Taking over for last year's starting signal caller Garrett Scott, the lanky 6-foot-2 Radic misfired on 6-of-7 passes in the first half, as the score was tied 7-7 at intermission. The York Suburban defenders did not have to do much defending, as Radic's throws mostly sailed high and wide.
By the time the third quarter rolled around, the home crowd was fired up by a halftime visit from the champion Red Land Little Leaguers.
After the Patriots received the second-half kickoff, Radic guided the offense into scoring territory. With the passing game struggling, Red Land rode junior tailback Justin Johnson, who finished with 32 carries for 231 yards.
With the ball sitting at the Trojans' 27 yard line, Red Land needed a play. And they needed it from the struggling Radic, who had just thrown two incompletions sandwiched around a Johnson run for zero yards.
As the offense walked to the line for the third-and-10 play, the crowd grew ansty, perhaps remembering the back-to-back fumbles that spoiled a late second-quarter drive into scoring territory.
Radic took the snap and dropped back. Wide receiver Hunter Briner ran a hitch-and-go, but the York Suburban defensive back wasn't fooled. Radic lofted a high pass towards the goal line.
Briner had a step on the defender, but the pass was short. At the last moment, the wide receiver slipped inside the defender, leaped high and came down with the ball. With a couple backwards steps, Briner scored the go-ahead touchdown.
Red Land would add a fourth-quarter field goal, and the Patriots' defense harassed Trojans' quarterback Thomas Merkle enough to stymie the visitors.
Merkle won the passing battle, but Radic's throw won the game for the Patriots. Red Land coach Chad Weaver said he would have preferred a cleaner game offensively.
"We had some opportunities that we couldn't come away with any points," he said.
York Suburban coach Andy Loucks called it "a great game" in a playoff atmosphere.
"I think our kids played really well tonight," he said. "A couple plays go an inch here or an inch there for them and it's a different game."
York Suburban7000—7Red Land7073—17
YS — Travis Edwards 2-yard run (Atkinson kick)
RLa — Justin Johnson 53-yard run (Stout kick)
RLa — Jake Radic 27-yard pass to Hunter Briner (Stout kick)
RLa — Stout 23-yard FG
YSRLFirst downs1116Rushes-yards23-3843-230Passing13-205-19Passing yards16587Total yards203317Punts4-1071-49Fumbles-lost0-04-0Penalties-yards8-705-25
Rushing — YS, Thomas Merkle, 8- (-21), Dajour Henderson, 6-37, Teague Hoffman, 5-9, Edwards, 4-13. RLa, Derek Cline, 1-3, Justin Johnson, 32-231, Hunter Briner, 2- (-1), Radic, 5- (-20), Nathan Stahl, 3-17.
Passing — YS, Merkle, 13-20-165-1. RLa, Jake Radic, 5-19-87-1
Receiving — YS, Collin Mailman, 5-117, Brad Smith, 3-21, Henderson, 3-16, Edwards, 1- (-2), Jadon Haynes, 1-13. RLa, Briner, 2-62, Kyle Campbell, 1-11, Zi Reevey, 2-14.