Northeastern rolls the dice, hangs on to top Susquehannock
MANCHESTER >> It was a gutsy play call with 91 seconds to go.
Ahead by two points and facing a third-and-12 at midfield, Northeastern junior quarterback Shannon Valenti found senior wide receiver David Ankney for a 39-yard gain in Friday evening's game against Susquehannock.
That set up a 3-yard touchdown run by junior running back Chris Whack with 21 left, helping Northeastern (3-0) escape with a 30-21 win over the Warriors (1-2) at Northeastern High School.
"The play was called and I went into the huddle and said, 'Big time players make big time plays,'" Valenti said. "I said this is the time we need a big play. We went out there and executed. After the play, I went up to Dave and said, 'What did I tell you.'"
Northeastern coach Jon Scepanski said the result was a bit unexpected.
"I didn't expect the ball to be thrown that far downfield," Scepanski said. "But I trust (Valenti) and it worked out well. I thought we were going to hit a different route."
It marked the second time in the game that Valenti found the 5-foot-10, 190-pound Ankney for a big gain. The two connected on a 57-yard scoring pass on a third-and-10 play in the second quarter. Ankney led the Bobcats with three receptions for 107 yards.
"(Valenti) was able to get outside of the pocket (on the fourth-quarter play)," said Susquehannock coach Steve Wiles. "We couldn't contain with the ends. We just don't see speed like that in practice. We gave him too much time."
While Ankney was starring on offense for Northeastern, the Warriors were riding the efforts of senior wide receiver Nick Tannura to stay in the game.
The 6-2, 185-pound senior often found himself on the good end of some mismatches and finished the game with eight catches for 144 yards and two touchdowns.
"(Tannura is) a tough matchup," Wiles said. "I was surprised (Northeastern) didn't put somebody up top or double up on him or put a taller kid on him. That was a matchup coming in we thought we could exploit a little bit and take advantage of it if we could."
Tannura caught a 20-yard score from senior quarterback Josh Stoneberg on the first play of the second quarter and added a 46-yard touchdown reception with 2:55 left in the game.
Susquehannock twice fell behind by a touchdown in the first half only to drive back down the field to tie the game. Northeastern broke the game open on a 30-yard interception return for a score by Coby Motley with 3:13 left in the third quarter, but Tannura's late fourth-quarter score brought the Warriors back to within two points.
"I thought the kids played well," Wiles said. "I was proud of their effort. We are there. We are in games now. We just have to find a way to win them."
NE — Chris Whack 13 run (Cameron Artman kick), 1:59.
Sus — Nick Tannura 20 pass from Josh Stoneberg (Adam Hedgeland Jr. kick), 11:54.
NE — David Ankney 57 pass from Shannon Valenti (Artman kick), 9:42.
Sus — Jack Allred 8 run (Hedgeland Jr. kick), 4:23.
NE — Artman 26 FG, :05
NE — Coby Motley 30 interception return (kick failed), 3:13
Sus — Tannura 46 pass from Stoneberg (Hedgeland Jr. kick), 2:55.
NE — Whack 3 run (Artman kick), :21.
SusNeFirst downs1214 Rushes-yards34-10633-172 Passing9-14-17-16-0 Passing yards154165 Total yards260337 Punts5-23.85-33.6 Fumbles-lost3-11-1 Penalties-yards3-156-75
Rushing — Sus, Dorian Faster 5-47, Jack Allred 14-51, Kevin Clapp 6-26, Myles Moultrie 4-18, Nick Chamberlain 1-(-10), Josh Stoneberg 4-(-26). NE, Anu Johnson 15-62, Chris Whack 8-51, Shannon Valenti 8-35, Taemar Willis 2-24.
Passing — Sus, Stoneberg, 9-14-1, 154 yards. NE, Valenti 7-16-0, 165 yards.
Receiving — Sus, Nick Tannura 8-144, Moultrie 1-10. NE, David Ankney 3-107, Jordan Zirkle 2-39, Whack 1-10, Willis 1-9.