Miners score late to edge Marian
Marian’s Seth Paluck (middle) takes a the ball from Keith McCall (left) and follows his blocker Max Nolter (right). RON GOWER/SPECIAL TO THE TIMES NEWS
It might not have been ‘Win one for the Gipper,” but as far as Minersville football lore is concerned, it might some day hold the same kind of legendary status.
Playing without talented starting quarterback Scott Schwalm, who left the game early in the fourth quarter with a serious leg injury, the Miners found a way to “Win one for Scott.”
Behind backup quarterback Gehrig Hossler, the Miners drove 73 yards to score the winning touchdown on an 8-yard run by Joshua Halye with just 28 seconds remaining as they rallied to beat Marian, 26-20 on Friday.
“The team played for Scott,” said Minersville coach Damian Buggy. “He was incredible. As he’s laying on the field waiting for the ambulance, he’s telling our players that he’s going to be fine, and they should focus on the game.
“The kids were really motivated to get this win for him.”
The injury to Schwalm, which Buggy confirmed was a broken leg, came on the opening play of the fourth quarter and caused a 21-minute delay. It forced 5-foot, 6-inch starting receiver Hossler behind center.
But despite seeing virtually no time at quarterback this season, Hossler completed a couple of huge passes during the winning drive, including a 25-yard pass to Bryce Ellinger on the right sideline to set up the winning score.
“Gehrig probably has only gotten about 4 percent of the snaps at quarterback during our practices (this season),” laughed Buggy. “But he’s extremely intelligent. He’s like another coach on the field and he knows all the pass plays from running them as a receiver.”
The Miners’ final drive chewed up nearly six minutes of the clock. The 14-play march included a pair of fourth down conversions, including one on a backbreaking personal foul call against the Colts after they had sacked Hossler on a fourth-and-5 play.
“Give Minersville credit. They had kids step up and make plays,” said Marian coach Pat Morgans. “We had great coverage on Ellinger and he went up and made the catch that put them deep in our territory. They made a number of plays in the second half and we didn’t.”
The Colts led 20-12 at halftime, but failed to score after intermission. They had drives stopped on downs at the Minersville 23 and 5 yard lines, and also fumbled the ball at the Miners’ 27.
“Too many missed opportunities. We let them stay in the game and that came back to burn us,” Morgans said. “We just couldn’t come up with the big play when we needed it on offense, and we had some costly penalties that really hurt us as well.”
BEST FOR LAST ... After Minersville scored on a 71-yard pass play on the first play of the second half to cut the Marian lead to 20-18, its next three possessions combined to produce minus-5 yards of offense and only one first down. But it overcame those numbers on its final possession for the long, game-winning drive.
THREE SCORES ... Seth Paluck accounted for all three Marian touchdowns. Paluck had scoring runs of 55 and six yards, and also scored on a 29-yard shuffle pass from Keith McCall. Paluck finished with 156 yards on the ground.
REGROUP ... The loss snapped a three-game Marian winning streak and dropped them to 4-5 on the season. “We just have to keep moving forward,” said Morgans. “We had been on a pretty good roll coming into the game. Now we have to get on another one. We have Tamaqua coming in next week and then the district playoffs. It’s a tough loss, but I thought our kids played hard and competed. We are going to keep working on getting better. We have a lot of football ahead us.”