|DISTRICT 4 FOOTBALL: SAYRE COMES UP SHORT IN SEMIFINAL LOSS TO MUNCY (19 PHOTOS) (2018-11-02)
BY TIM TAYLOR
Valley Sports Report
MUNCY — Sayre’s run at a District 4 title came to an end on a muddy, rain-slickened field here Friday evening. The 19-7 loss to Muncy in the Class A semifinals wasn’t for the lack of trying as the Redskins battled down to the end, but victory just wasn’t in the cards for first-year head coach Kevin Gorman and his crew.
The Indians dominated the line-of-scrimmage at the onset, following an opening kickoff and return that gave them excellent field position at the Sayre 48. Using four different backs, Muncy churned its way down to a first-and-goal at the Redskin 5, but a penalty set the Indians back at the 10. That’s when senior quarterback Kolby Moyer went to the air and tossed a high aerial to 6-foot-3 wide receiver Dylan Witt in the front corner of the end zone. With a 7-inch height advantage on Sayre’s Zach Watkins, Witt easily outjumped his defender for the touchdown catch. Isaac Boring’s PAT kick gave the host a 7-0 advantage with 6:22 left in the quarter.
Time of possession would be a big plus for Muncy, which ran 73 offensive plays, 62 on the ground. The Indians converted on third down 10 times, allowing them to hold onto the ball much longer than Gorman would have liked.
“You saw a team who was fighting until the end, but we can’t make some of those mistakes that we made against a team that was pretty good.”
In addition to its defensive struggles, the Sayre offense committed four turnovers.
“We weren’t clicking tonight and I think that’s something that everyone can see,” Gorman said. “During the game, we weren’t clicking offensively. Defensively, we didn’t get the stops we needed. We had them in third-down situations a ton and we just gave them first downs, gave them a new set of downs. That never helps you in a game.”
The Indians’ next rotation wasn’t quite as impressive. After a Sayre three-and-out, with a penalty against each team thrown in, Muncy would also go three plays with the James Esposito intercepting Moyer at the Muncy 41. Unfortunately for the Redskins, they were forced to punt following another three-and-out possession.
The Indians would drive to the Sayre 37, but sputtered thanks to the pass defense of Esposito and Pat Casterline on third-and-6, and by Watkins on fourth-and-6. There was still more than eight minutes remaining in the second quarter, so the Redskins did some ground pounding of their own as Isaiah Firestine carried seven straight times for 23 yards before Christian Good picked off Brayden Horton at the Muncy 35.
The Indians worked the ball deep into Sayre territory, but Moyer threw his second pick of the night, this one to Gage Carnrike at his own 20. With 47 seconds left in the half, the Redskins were unable to take advantage of the turnover.
Sayre got the ball to start the second half, but another three-and-out was followed by a punt that picked up 19 net yards, giving Muncy the ball at its own 42.
Once again, the Indians would burn precious minutes off the clock as they moved the pigskin into the red zone, only to see the Sayre defense stiffen. Muncy would turn the ball over on downs, but on the very next play, Horton was intercepted by Witt and Muncy got the ball back just 15 yards away from paydirt.
Despite a tenacious defensive effort by the Redskins, Coleman Good was able to punch it in from the 1 on the first play of the fourth quarter. The PAT kick failed, but the home team was now leading 13-0 with the clock now becoming a factor.
It didn’t seem to deter the youthful Horton as he engineered a 12-play, 57-yard drive to put the Redskins on the scoreboard on Isaiah Firestine’s 1-yard plunge with 6:36 left in the game. Esposito’s PAT kick closed the gap to 13-7 and gave Sayre new hope.
Muncy didn’t waste a lot of time trying to dash those hopes, however. The Indians drove 58 yards in just over 4 1/2 minutes, giving the ball back to the Redskins at the Sayre 6 with 1:59 on the clock.
Horton, trying to get the Sayre offense going, threw into double coverage, but Carnrike slipped on the muddy field and the lanky Witt jumped up and snagged the ball for a pick six and a 19-6 advantage.
With less than a minute to play, the Redskins refused to quit and the young Horton showed some veteran leadership qualities to move Sayre deep into the Muncy end before a penalty helped squelch any attempt at a miracle comeback.
“It’s never good to turn over the ball, obviously. Brayden’s still young and when we started putting him in against CV (Cowanesque Valley) and then his next couple games; you know sometimes kids forget that, people forget that he’s still young, he’s still 14. And he’ll make those mistakes. He wants to be perfect, but like I said and I tell them, ‘guys, this is a far from perfect game. You’ll make mistakes.’ Tonight he made some mistakes and the turnovers killed momentum, and we didn’t capitalize when we needed to.
“Overall as a team, I think we definitely could have played better, and maybe the outcome would have changed.”
Muncy finished with 262 yards offense while holding Sayre to 119. Good carried the rock 22 times for 104 of the Indians’ 218 rushing yards. The Redskins had 73 yards on the ground, with Firestine accounting for 61, and 46 passing.
Sayre finishes its first season under Gorman with a 6-5 record.
“For the first year, I definitely think it’s a success. Obviously, getting into districts was huge for us and when we got in I, and so did the kids, thought we were good enough to compete for a district title and obviously that’s not going to happen this year, but the kids just fought all year long.
"With the transition, obviously there’s always going to be some questions, but they just bought in, this senior class especially. They kind of stepped up and led us throughout the year. Different people led the way, Gage, Devin (Ervin). Connor Harbst was just kind of a quiet, came to work, and really did his job type of kid. Those guys really kind of stepped up and throughout the year kind of brought us along. I think through the whole transition, it was pretty successful. Then, mid-year hits and you kind of hit that stride.
"We’re really excited about what we have coming back and we’re really excited to get going for next year.”
IN PHOTO 1: Sayre's Isaiah Firestine. ... PHOTOS BY TIM TAYLOR.
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