Hanover dug out of an early hole but couldn't complete the comeback in a non-league loss to Annville-Cleona. George Marinos, For GameTimePA.com
Annville-Cleona put up another dramatic finish, earning a 35-26 victory against Hanover on Friday night. It was the Nighthawks' first loss to a team other than Biglerville since Halloween 2014.
The Nighthawks found themselves in a 16-point halftime deficit, but they nearly rose from the ashes in the game's final half.
"Our team responded very well to the deficit," Hanover head coach Bill Reichert said. "It's the first time we've been down all year long. We rallied at halftime and made the corrections we needed to make. It was a very good second half."
Annville-Cleona (2-2), which has thrived on wild finishes, was right at home in this kind of game.
"I'm 37, and I feel like I'm 67," Annville-Cleona head coach Matt Gingrich said. "I liked being up 28-12 at half. I feel like I'm going to die again, every week."
Hanover broke off two big plays to score on its first possession of the second half. Justin Barnes dashed for 61 yards, and then Logan Brown went the final 16 for a touchdown on a fly-sweep.
A successful two-point conversion cut the lead to 28-20 two minutes into the half.
After a rare defensive stop by the Nighthawks, Hanover marched to the Annville-Cleona 21 before turning the ball over on downs.
The teams trade punts, and Annville-Cleona's Cameron Hoch returned one 37 yards to the Hanover 24. But the Dutchmen couldn't move the ball more than a few feet, and elected for a field goal. But Anthony Frattarole's 37-yard kick was wide right.
A 12-play Hanover drive ensued, but it bogged down at the Dutchmen 37, and Hanover punted the Dutchmen in deep.
Hanover's defense came up huge and hit quarterback Noah Myers as he attempted to throw a backwards pass on first down, and the ball settled in the grass at the Annville-Cleona 5. Dylan Stair scooped the ball up and ran it in for a Nighthawks touchdown.
Can Mumma's pass on the two-point try sailed wide, and Hanover still trailed by 2 midway through the fourth quarter.
Hoch appeared to derail any hope of a comeback with a 50-yard kick return deep into Hanover territory.
The defense stood tall and forced an incompletion by Myers over the middle on fourth down, but the officials threw a late flag and called Hanover for pass interference.
Hoch punched the ball in a few plays later, and Frattarole's extra point put the game away.
Han -- Justin Barnes 8 run (kick failed), 10:26
AC -- Cameron Hoch 22 run (kick failed), 8:29
Han -- Barnes 5 run (run failed), 5:36
AC -- Hoch 26 run (Anthony Frattarole kick), 2:08
AC -- Caleb Turner 7 run (Dylan Bomgardner pass from Noah Myers), 7:40
AC -- Griffin Hertz 35 pass from Brandon Uhrich (Frattarole kick)
Han -- Logan Brown 16 run (Hunter Martz pass from Cam Mumma), 10:04
Han -- Dylan Stair 4 fumble return (pass failed), 6:01
AC -- Hoch 7 run (Frattarole kick), 3:57
Rushing — Annville-Cleona, Cameron Hoch 17-114, Caleb Turner 18-75, Griffin Hertz 2-7, Dylan Bomgardner 2-6, Noah Myers 10-0, Team 1-(-14). Hanover, Justin Barnes 23-180, Logan Brown 7-34, Re'Sean Williams 3-16, Cam Mumma 9-(-20).
Passing — Annville-Cleona, Myers 3-9-0-20, Brandon Uhrich 1-1-0-35. Hanover, Mumma 15-23-0-178.
Receiving — Annville-Cleona, Hertz 1-35, Gabe Burris 1-9, Uhrich 1-6, Hoch 1-5. Hanover, Hunter Martz 4-61, Williams 3-36, Josh Postell 3-27, Fabian Lara 2-30, Barnes 2-17, Dylan Stair 1-7.