Northeastern's banner season comes to an end
Football players often speak of a brotherhood created by going through the ups and downs of a season with their teammates.
Well, that was on full display Friday night as a family of roughly 50 Northeastern brothers — players and coaches — consoled each other at midfield. The Bobcats had just suffered an unceremonious end to the best season in program history and the seniors, who had helped carry the program to new heights — nine wins and their first district playoff win — had just played their last 48 minutes in a Northeastern uniform.
Despite being the No. 2 team in the District 3 Class AAA playoffs, Northeastern was outgunned and outplayed, especially early, and fell 42-14 to Susquehanna Township.
"They've got size, they've got speed, and they're a good football program," Northeastern head coach Jon Scepanski said of Susquehanna Township. "Our guys gave it everything they had. There's no doubt they left everything on the field. I'm very proud of our seniors and everyone on the field. Tonight just wasn't our night."
Playing one of the Mid Penn’s best teams, the Bobcats seemed overwhelmed in the first quarter. The Indians, who entered Friday's contest with seven-straight victories and a win over Bishop McDevitt on their resume, came out swinging with a statement four-play, 58-yard drive in 1:04, capped by an 9-yard touchdown run by Trael Seegars. Moments later, Indians quarterback Ben Moser ran in a score from 1 yard out, then Moser hit Seegars for a 20-yard catch and run into the end zone, and all of a sudden the YAIAA's best defense had given up 21 points in the first nine-plus minutes.
An 80-yard punt return by Michael Cooper set up a 7-yard touchdown run by Shannon Valenti, and Justin Franklin intercepted Moser to close the half, but the Bobcats were outgained in the first half, 346-71, and trailed 28-7.
"That was the key tonight," Susquehanna Township head coach Joe Headen said of the Indians' fast start. "When we watched this (Northeastern) team on film, they have a lot of athletes. We compared them to a Central Dauphin East team we played earlier this year because they have a very good quarterback, good running backs and receivers. So our whole plan was to get the ball first ... and try to get on them right away."
Everything that could go wrong, did go wrong for the Bobcats. Anu Johnson, who ran for 230 yards last week, was held to 36 yards on nine carries. The team racked up nearly as many penalty yards (100) as total yards (154) and the defense, which had dominated YAIAA foes, gave up 447 yards.
With less than a minute left and the game well out of hand, the Bobcats called a timeout to allow the seniors a curtain call and the fans a chance to give them a standing ovation one last time.
"I couldn't have asked for a better group of guys this year," Scepanski said. "The seniors — their leadership and dedication was tremendous. I just told them that they can always look back and say you were the team that took Northeastern to the next level."
Susquehanna Township_ 21_ 7_ 7_ 7_— _42
Northeastern_ 0_ 7_ 0_ 7_— _14
ST — Trael Seegars 9 run (Jonah Williams kick), 10:56.
ST — Ben Moser 1 run (Williams kick), 6:43.
ST — Seegars 20 pass from Moser (Williams kick), 3:16.
Ne — Shannon Valenti 7 run (Cameron Artman kick), 9:20.
ST — Alonzo Rivera 17 pass from Moser (Williams kick), 8:08.
ST — Chris Ciotti 12 pass from Moser (Williams kick), 9:50.
ST — Sylas Pope 1 run (Williams kick), 11:15.
Ne — Kody Reeser 2 run (Artman kick), 2:21.
First downs_ 17 _ 8
Rushes-Yards_ 37-210 _ 37-114
Passing_ 12-19-1 _ 2-14-1
Passing Yards_ 237 _ 40
Total Yards_ 447 _ 154
Punts_ 4-29 _ 6-32
Fumbles-Lost_ 2-0 _ 1-1
Penalties-Yards_ 7-50 _ 10-100
Rushing — ST, Sylas Pope 12-90, Ben Moser 4-0, Trael Seegars 11-105, Mari Wright 6-17, Devin Evans 1-(-4), Mike Perry 1-0, Jahlonni Gillis-Miles 1-(-2), Andrew Seymour 1-4. Ne, Anu Johnson 9-36, Chris Whack 5-21, Shannon Valenti 14-21, Kody Reeser 9-36
Passing — ST, Moser 12-19-237-1. Ne, Valenti 2-14-40-1.
Receiving — ST, Pope 1-13, Alonzo Rivera 4-81, Seegars 2-51, Chris Ciotti 2-40, Brian Garner 2-31, Bobby Pressley 1-21. Ne, David Ankney 2-40.