It happened in less than a minute.
One moment Northern York was struggling through a sloppy first half against James Buchanan. Then Northern's defensive line burst through to pin James Buchanan's Seth Carbaugh behind the line of scrimmage for a safety with 35.7 seconds to play in the first half.
After recovering the free kick, Northern faced a fourth-and-10 situation from the James Buchanan 34-yard line with just two seconds left in the first half — and the Polar Bears went for it.
Northern quarterback Curtis Robison dropped back and hit Andrew Swaisgood along the Polar Bears' sideline for a touchdown with no time left in the half. Northern's nine-point burst in the final 36 seconds of the first half helped lift the Polar Bears to a 51-0 victory against James Buchanan.
"The line gave me enough time and I threw it up, and 'Swais' made a great play on the ball," Robison said.
On the fourth-down heave, Robison said he faced a Cover-4 defense, with four defensive backs playing deep to prevent that type of play. Swaisgood, however, ran back to catch the ball. Hauling in the pass near the 1, he split a pair of defensive backs and fell into the end zone.
"You just have to go up and get the ball in those situations when you're throwing it up like that," Swaisgood said.
"It was a good way to go into halftime," said first-year Northern coach Greg Bowman, who served as an assistant at Central York, Spring Grove and Lower Dauphin before accepting the head spot before this season.
Bowman then laughed: "I wasn't pleasant at halftime."
Northern committed five first-half penalties and fumbled the ball in the first half. Whatever Bowman said at intermission, worked.
Northern scored three touchdowns in the opening 8:45 of the third quarter to put the game away.
The Polar Bears (3-1, 1-0 Mid Penn Colonial) held James Buchanan (0-4, 0-1) to 12 total yards of offense and one first down. They blocked a 28-yard field goal. They picked off three passes, with Swaisgood pulling in two and taking one to the end zone.
"It goes so quick ... you just have to get in front of it," Swaisgood said of his interception return for a touchdown.
Robison, splitting time at quarterback with Justin Markle, completed 6-of-10 passes for 129 yards.
"I'm getting used to it and I'm OK with that," said Robison, who rotates in for two series on offense before switching out with Markle for two series.
Northern is looking for its first winning season since 2012 and its first district appearance since 2011.
"Districts," Robison said about his team's goal. "We have to get there. It goes week by week, but we have to get there."
Bowman added: "The expectations are pretty high, the guys have worked really hard all offseason. ... They just need to believe in themselves."
Northern York 51, James Buchanan 0
James Buchanan0000—0Northern York716217—51
Nor — Michael Kearney 1 run (Aidan Alves kick), 5:03
Nor — Kearney 1 run (Alves kick), 3:30
Nor — Jake Cromer and defense tackles Seth Carbaugh in end zone, :35.7
Nor — Andrew Swaisgood 34 pass from Curtis Robison (Alves kick), 0:00.0
Nor — Jared Sutch 22 pass from Robison (Alves kick), 9:49
Nor — Swaisgood 44 interception return (Alves kick), 7:49
Nor — Bobby Shelly 26 run (Alves kick), 3:15
Nor — Ray Avila 5 run (Jake Coover kick), 6:18
JBNORFirst downs117Rushes-yards20-(-6)41-168Passing2-13-36-11-0Passing yards18129Total yards12297Punts4-25.80Fumbles-lost3-14-2Penalties-yards2-106-40
Rushing — JB, Seth Carbaugh 9-2, Dillon Sanders 3-4, Caden Ficks 1-1, Spoonhour 1-6, Kenny Gordon 1-1, Clay Sanders 3-(-4), Evan Stoner 1-0, Team 2-(-16). Nor, Kearney 18-64, Shelly 5-52, Avila 4-24, Jordan Eutzy 2-20, Justin Markle 4-20, Hunter Hrinda 2-15, Alves 1-13, Cromer 2-1, Robison 1-(-1), Team 2-(-40).
Passing — JB, Spoonhour 2-12-2, Seth Carbaugh 0-0-0, Josh Barrett 0-1-1. Nor, Robison 6-10-0, Markle 0-1-0.
Receiving — JB, Carlos Rauch 1-15, Stoner 1-3. Nor, Swaisgood 2-51, John Kearney 2-40, Sutch 1-22, Joey Razzano 1-16.