It must be something about homecoming at Dallastown.
One year ago, the Wildcats found themselves behind big against South Western before pulling off a stunning comeback.
On Friday night, the situation look equally bleak. With sole possession of first place in YAIAA Division I on the line, Dallastown trailed Northeastern by two scores to open the fourth quarter.
And once again, the Wildcats gave the fans a homecoming worth remembering.
After running for a touchdown, quarterback Cade Gold found Jawaun McMillian on an 8-yard touchdown pass with 4:40 remaining. Jake Jansen followed with a spectacular catch of the 2-point conversion, and Dallastown held on for a thrilling 15-12 victory.
"I think it was gut-check time for our team," Gold said after seeing the Bobcats dominate through three quarters, putting his team down 12-0. "It just shows how much heart our guys have."
The Wildcats remained unbeaten at 3-0 in the division and 6-0 overall. Northeastern (2-1, 5-1) suffered its first loss of the season.
"Every week it's championship week in the league season," Dallastown coach Kevin Myers said after the game. "We got it going in the second half. Our defense stepped it up, our offense stepped it up."
Bobcats quarterback Shannon Valenti launched a long pass to David Ankney for a 67-yard touchdown that gave his team a 12-0 lead late in the third quarter.
Northeastern's defense then forced a Dallastown punt, but on the ensuing possession, Wildcats senior Jordan Burns pounced on a Bobcats fumble.
Going no huddle, Gold led Dallastown down the field, hitting Anthony Garcia on a pair of first-down passes. On third-and-8 at the Northeastern 12, Gold took a quarterback draw into the end zone, cutting the gap to 12-7.
Inspired by that drive, the Wildcats defense took over and got another big play when Valenti slipped on the wet turf, losing 14 yards on third-and-4.
Northeastern punted the ball away, and Gold scrambled on the first play of the possession. His 13-yard first down run got a 15-yard boost when he was hit out of bounds. That personal foul gave the Bobcats 130 penalty yards on the night.
Gold had to fall on a fumbled shotgun snap, losing 11 yards. But he hit Jansen on the next play for 17 yards, then followed an incompletion by finding McMillian for a first down. Two plays later, Gold hit a sliding McMillian in the end zone, sparking a loud celebration.
"I was in control at the point. We finally just clicked," Gold said of the hurry-up offense. The senior's 52-yard run in the final series clinched the game.
Known for their offense, the Bobcats turned on the defense Friday, controlling play through much of the first half. Northeastern out-gained the Wildcats 173-61 in the first half, 273-197 for the game.
Cameron Artman started the scoring with a 30-yard field goal five minutes into the second quarter. The senior also drilled a 40-yarder that made it 6-0 midway through the third.
"They are very athletic. They were the aggressor for three-quarters of the game," Myers said of the Bobcats.
Ne — Cameron Artman 30 FG, 7:04.
Ne — Artman 40 FG, 5:30
Ne — David Ankney 67 pass from Shannon Valenti (run failed), 1:51.
Dt — Cade Gold 12 run (Drake Pew kick), 9:07.
Dt — Jawaun McMillian 8 pass from Gold (Jake Jansen pass from Gold), 4:40.
First Downs 10 14
Rushes-yards 38-121 33-116
Passing 7-13-1 15-27-1
Passing yards 152 81
Total yards 273 197
Punts 3-34.3 4-33.8
Fumbles-lost 3-1 5-0
Penalty yards 14-130 6-50
Rushing — Ne, Anu Johnson 12-61, Chris Whack 7-20, Taemar Willis 2-18, Valenti 11-14, Michael Cooper 1-6, Kody Reeser 5-2. Dt, Gold 15-85, Dillon Callahan 6-26, Jake Garrity 4-5, Jack Marks 4-0, Zion Devance 4-0.
Passing — Ne, Valenti 7-13-152-1. Dt, Gold 14-26-96-1, Pew 1-1-(-15)-0.
Receiving — Ne, Ankney 2-84, Dezmond Wigginton 1-27, Jordan Zirkle 1-16, Jonathan Butler 1-13, Johnson 1-11, Willis 1-1. Dt, Jansen 6-36, McMillian 4-7, Anthony Garcia 4-37, Connor Moore 1-1.