An empty grandstand, fans outside the fence and seeding for the playoff on the line. Just another day in this year.
The Eagles got the first possession and put together one of their signature, methodical drives. Consuming nearly all of the first eight minutes, the chipped away to the one-yard line. As he has so often, both tonight and in all of his starts, quarterback Reid Hartness kept the ball & made good on the call to put his team ahead 7-0.
The Davies defense bolstered the start by forcing a turnover-on-downs moments later.
But on their second go-round, the home team got a little sloppy, coughing the ball up and it was wrangled by the Deacons. All that Shanley could manage from the turnover was a punt, but they wouldn't have to wait long to get the ball back.
After a few plays, Davies dropped the ball again so Shanley was back in business. But as the saying goes, the struggle was real and Shanley was again forced into a TOD. With time winding down, the Eagles couldn't take their preferred tempo if they wanted to double the lead.
And it just so happened that they wouldn't need to be so deliberate. With the tip of the ball just outside the endzone, Hartness took the snap but this time handed off to Austin Harmsen who pushed past the defenders for make it 14-0 with 3.5 minutes remaining.
And so the pressure fell squarely on the far sideline. That fact only increased after a fourth-down catch was fumbled & returned to the three. This time Truman Werremeyer had the reservation for six.
Down to the final 41 seconds, Shanley put together their best possession thus far and finished it off with the leg of their latest national player, Emmet Kenney. But in a bit of discombobulation, the Shanley standout saw the ball sail left of the uprights.
And so the teams went into their huddles.
It didn't take long for the Deacons halftime adjustments to start paying off as they converted a fourth & 15 to John Gores and then Cooper Mattern hit Carson Dean for a touchdown with 7:44 left in the quarter.
In a complete reversal to how they started, Davies flipped a switch and turned the game into a track meet. In all of four plays that had made their response - the first two of which were Hartness showing why he could be a player at the next level. And so the difference was 21 points yet again.
But like I said, Shanley's adjustments worked. And so, 22 seconds later they had doubled their total, this time by way of a 68-yard catch & run touchdown from Mattern to Gores. And as if that wasn't enough, on the TD there was a roughing-the-passer penalty assessed against Davies which lead to them starting their next possession at the 14.
That could have spelled doom for the red team if they went on another 8-minute touchdown drive, but again Shanley was in the fight.
Following the punt they got another penalty in their favor so that they could have gone for the field goal if nothing else. But with the momentum firmly on their side coach Mattern went into his bag of tricks & dialed up a pass by Kenney that could not have been executed better. That put them 11-yards away with four plays, they would only need one. Mattern found Carter Kochmann in the end zone to make it a one-touchdown game with 14 minutes left.
Davies managed to run off 4:59 of that, capped by a Colten Alme run to make it a 14-point game once again.
Shanley wasn't done as John Gores got another catch deep down field to bring him close to his 220 & 2 final totals but the Deacons were forced into another TOD. That didn't quite slam the door on them as Harmsen added one more fumble to the tally but all that they could muster the rest of the way was a buzzer-beating touchdown, which still left them behind by 15.
With the win Davies secured the #2 seed in the playoffs and retained the 25th St. trophy.
Davies 42, Shanley 27
Several players worthy of being singled out but no one was more responsible for the offensive output than the quarterback.
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