MECHANICSBURG >> The drive stalled. The game tied. The offense stuck.
Spring Grove turned to its kicker, only Andrew Luckenbaugh is no ordinary kicker.
The senior kicked a career-long 47-yard field goal as a freshman. So 45 yards wasn't asking too much.
And he knew it.
"I've been doing it for a while now, it's mainly keep focused and go in and do my job," Luckenbaugh said. "Every time, I think of (a kick) as an extra point."
Luckenbaugh drilled a low but powerful kick with yards to spare with 8 minutes, 28 seconds to play to cap Spring Grove's 17-14, fourth-quarter comeback victory against Mechanicsburg at John H. Frederick Field at Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Park.
"I thought that put them away," Luckenbaugh said.
The field goal capped a 10-point swing in the final quarter. Spring Grove (1-1) snapped back to life after Mechanicsburg had compiled a 79-yard, 12-play drive that chewed up 7:02 in the third quarter. The drive ended with Brendan Wewer diving in for a 4-yard touchdown and then passing for a 2-point conversion to provided Mechanicsburg (0-2) with a 14-7 lead.
"I'm excited but I'm more excited for the kids," Spring Grove's first-year head coach Kyle Sprenkle said after he failed to completely dodge an ice-water bath. "We challenged them, specifically offensively just because we didn't have a good showing in Week 1. Our offensive line came together, our running backs came together, our receivers blocked on the edges and the leadership of our quarterback kept the offense moving."
Spring Grove's Nick Erickson rushed for 146 yards on 18 carries and L.J. Chisholm spelled him by running for 68 yards.
The highlight film will hammer home how impressive Spring Grove's final touchdown drive had been. After watching Mechanicsburg's time-killing drive to take the lead, the Rockets went 72 yards on 13 plays, culminating with a 19-yard touchdown pass from Jake Messersmith to Adam Warehime to tie the game with 11:21 to play. It was the duo's second touchdown connection, and the pair had two other near misses at touchdowns wiped out by a strong play by a defensive back in the first half and a pass just out of bounds in the end zone in the second half.
"They've been a great combo for us, and they're very comfortable with each other," Sprenkle said.
The drive helped wipe out the memory of a mostly sloppy first half. The Rockets turned the ball over three times (two interceptions and a fumbled backward pass). But Warehime hauled in a touchdown pass in the corner of the end zone with 22.6 seconds to play before halftime.
The one constant, however, had been Spring Grove's defense.
Senior linebacker Josh Cribbs intercepted two passes — including a fourth-quarter pick in Mechanicsburg territory that led to Luckenbaugh's kick. Lineman Nathan Young broke through on the play to hit Mechanicsburg quarterback Dylan Smith as he released the ball.
"The pressure was on, I think our defense was doing well, but that just changed the tides and allowed us to win the game," Cribbs said.
Once in the lead, Spring Grove's defense really shined, recording back-to-back tackles for loss (Cribbs and Young, again) before defensive back Anthony Beddia swatted down a long pass attempt that would have moved the Wildcats into Rockets' territory. Mechanicsburg never regained possession as Spring Grove killed the final 6:36 on the clock.
"We teach our kids ... be aggressive no matter what," Sprenkle said. "Our defense helped us win by keeping us in the game for so long."
M — Brendan Wewer 31 run (kick failed), 2:32
SG — Adam Warehime 16 pass from Jake Messersmith (Andrew Luckenbaugh kick), :22.6
M — Wewer 4 run (Tyshawn Barnes pass from Wewer), 4:55
SG — Warehime 19 pass from Messersmith (Luckenbaugh kick), 11:21
SG — Andrew Luckenbaugh 45 kick, 8:28
SGMechFirst downs1711Rushes-yards40-25231-117Passing6-14-26-15-2Passing yards11560Total yards367177Punts2-40.52-41.0Fumbles-lost1-13-0Penalties-yards7-857-40
Rushing — SG, Nick Erickson 18-146, L.J. Chisholm 13-68, Messersmith 6-26,Ryan Daugherty 2-13, Ian Slaven 1-(-1). M, Elijah Strawbridge 21-57, Wewer 6-41, Rhashad Scales 1-32, Chris Torres 1-(-1), Dylan Smith 2-(-12).
Passing — SG, Messersmith 6-14-2 115 yards. M, Wewer 4-8-0 38, Dylan Smith 2-7-2 22.
Receiving — SG, Daugherty 2-39, Warehime 2-35, Chisholm 1-30, Brady Stein 1-11. M, Rhashan Scales 3-33, Strawbridge 1-21, Rhashad Scales 1-4, Torres 1-2.