Pam Pack squeaks out third in a row, 21-19

Published 12:05 am Saturday, October 29, 2016

Sophomore Uriah Lawrence stopped North Pitt mere inches from punching in a 2-point conversion to tie the game at 21 apiece in the last minute. With that, Washington was able to stave off a second-half comeback by the Panthers in a 21-19 win on homecoming.

The victory marked Washington’s third in a row, and maintains the Pam Pack’s unblemished 2-A Eastern Plains Conference record.

“It was big. We hadn’t won yet at home this year,” Pam Pack coach Sport Sawyer said. “It’s big for the guys on homecoming. They’ve had a big week. The school spirit has been great this week.”

Quarterback Frederick Holscher found Nazzir Hardy on a last-second, 47-yard touchdown throw that gave Washington a 21-7 lead at halftime. The Pam Pack, set to receive the ball to start the second half, seemingly snared all the momentum, too.

“That was big. We got the ball into their territory,” Sawyer said. “You got to go make a play. Holscher made a good throw and the line blocked well. That was huge for us.”

The Panthers had different plans. They pitched a shutout in the second half. Nytrell Chapman and Brian Rakim Smith linked up for a 10-yard touchdown to make it a one-possession game with just under eight minutes to go. However, a delay of game penalty forced them to go for two, and Cooper Anderson broke up the pass attempt.

Keion Prescott scored from 8 yards out to put the tie within reach, but North Pitt again failed on the conversion.

“Coach (Jon) Blank was lining up the defensive formation,” Sawyer said regarding the timeout he called just before the 2-point try. “We’re trying to tell them, ‘Keep them out. That’s the ball game there.’ That was a heck of a play by them and us.”

The two teams dueled through a scoreless first quarter before North Pitt struck on the first play of the second period. Chapman dumped off a short pass to Tyren Jenkins, who took off 69 yards for the game’s first touchdown.

Tyrese McNeil picked off Holscher two plays later. Washington’s defense stiffened up to prevent the Panthers from capitalizing. Back-to-back tackles for a loss brought up a third-and-14 situation for the Panthers, and the Pam Pack defense was able to get a three-and-out.

“The offense and defense, at times we made some good plays, but we also made some bad plays,” Sawyer said. “We’ve just got to clean it up. We’ve got to put together a full game instead of pieces here and there.”

Washington turned it over again, though. Hardy negated the offense’s turnover with an interception of his own, which he returned to North Pitt’s 33.

Suae Poe ran for 24 yards on the next play, setting up a 6-yard touchdown by Quashawn Gaynor that tied the game.

The Panthers fumbled the ensuing kickoff. Holscher was able to find a rhythm as North Pitt went all-in to stop the Pam Pack’s rushing attack. He connected with Drew Ferguson for a gain of 20 before striking Matt Black for a 35-yard touchdown.

Washington notched the go-ahead score with 1:21 left before halftime. The defense took the field and quickly got a turnover on downs, opening the door for Hardy’s last-second touchdown.

The Pam Pack had its scoring chances in the second half. It got into the red zone on its first possession of the second half, but missed a 24-yard field goal. Penalties also plagued the home side throughout.

Holscher finished the game 3-of-9 for 95 yards and a pair of scores. Poe led the Pam Pack on the ground with 17 carries for 79 yards.