On the fist snap of the game, Huntingdon tailback Jon Wagner took a pitchout, bobbled the ball in the backfield, finally reached the corner and then threaded his way through several P-O tacklers on his way to a 55-yard touchdown with only 18 seconds gone from the clock.
Kodiak Heaton’s PAT made it 7-0.
On P-O’s first possession, quarterback Jake Anderson had just gained 11 yards on a keeper, only to fumble the ball forward and Huntingdon recovered it on its own 41. Six plays later, five of them on runs by Wagner, the Bearcats were up 13-0, Wagner going the final six yards. Heaton made it 14-0 with 6:55 still in the first quarter as the Bearcats went on to a 42-13 win over Philipsburg-Osceola on Senior Night.
Wagner only played the first half and finished with 148 yards and two touchdowns on eight carries. He had 107 yards by the time he scored his second TD.
“He’s a heck of a football player,’’ said Bearcat coach Mike Hudy. “The kids all look up to him. He leads by example. We put in some I-formation plays this week to get him on both sides of the ball.’’
With the win, Huntingdon remains alive in the hunt for a berth in the District 6 Class AA playoffs, recovering nicely from last week’s loss to BEA.
P-O, on he other hand, pulled out all of the stops as it tried to pull off the upset. The Mounties tried an on-sides kick to start the game but Huntingdon recovered the ball at its own 45. P-O also tried a fake punt, which appeared to have worked for a 40-yard gain, only to be called back by a penalty. And on fourth down at his own 25, P-O punter Aaron Boumerhi tried to run and was tackled for a three-yard loss, giving Huntingdon the football at the P-O 22. The Mounties also had Boumerhi try a 49-yard field goal, but the kick was blocked, putting the ball in Huntingdon’s hands at its own 38. In each instance, the Bearcats went on to score.
Hudy was not shocked by the way the game started.
“We were expecting it,” he said. “They’re having a tough year. Their backs are against the wall, so you might as well try anything. I know, I’ve been there.”
For Mountie coach Mike Soyster, watching Wagner break loose on the first play of the game was difficult.
“It’s frustrating,” he said. “No words can express what it’s like to be watching that on the sideline. It can overwhelm you.”
After the blocked field goal attempt, Huntingdon drove to the P-O 3 and Jacob Oliver went in from there. Heaton made it 21-0 with 10:54 to go in the half.
After Boumerhi was tackled trying to run on fourth down, the Bearcats needed only three plays to get on the board as Oliver scored from the 2 and Heaton kicked the PAT to make it 28-0.
But the Mounties fought back and scored before the half as Anderson went 17 yards on fourth-and 2 at the 3:26 mark, and Boumerhi kicked the PAT.
Anderson finished the night with 91 yards on 19 carries to lead all P-O rushers, and threw for 120 yards on 10 completions in 19 attempts.
“We thought we could run the ball on them,” Soyster said. “And in our offense, we consider Jake a running back. But right now, we are a team that is not taking care of the little things.
“But what is exciting is that they come to practice and work unbelievably hard. It’s encouraging to see that because that’s part of how we’re trying to build our culture here.”
Huntingdon put the mercy rule in effect when Noah Glenny scored from the 4 with 3:04 left in the third quarter and Heaton booted the PAT.
Anderson scored the game’s final points when he scored on a sneak from the 1 with 4:45 left in the game.
P-O now goes on the road for the final two games of the year, heading to Clearfield Friday night before closing out at Bellwood-Antis.