Golden Eagles finish series with Punxsutawney with rain soaked 20-12 win

Tyrone sophomore Terry Tate will make other big plays in his career with the Golden Eagle football team.
There will be bone-crushing tackles, fumbles recovered and most likely a few take-aways before his career is finished.
But they may not be as special as the touchdown the 5-10, 220-pound lineman scored last night in the fourth quarter of the Eagles’ 20-14 victory in tempest-like conditions at Jeff M. LeMarca Stadium in Punxsutawney.
At the time, it looked like icing on the cake of Tyrone’s sixth win in the last seven games. As it turns out, it may have been the play secured home field advantage in the first round of next week’s District 5-6 playoffs.
Tate’s touchdown came with just 1:42 left in the game, after a Brice Mertiff punt had pushed the Woodchucks back to their own one-yard line. On second down, quarterback Joe Martin dropped back to pass out of the endzone and rolled left, where he was hit by Max Soellner as he was trying to release the ball. Martin lost his grip, and the ball plopped onto the soggy turf, where Tate corralled it for his first varsity score, giving Tyrone a 20-6 lead.
The full magnitude of the play wasn’t realized until the ‘Chucks drove 66 yards on six plays on their final possession to score on a 25-yard Andy Snyder touchdown reception with just three seconds left.
“From one 30 to the other, it was just a sea of mud out there,” said Tyrone coach John Franco. “You couldn’t even get a snap. In games like this, you throw out the game plans and coach and play on instinct. You can spend hours breaking down film and devising a game plan, but there’s no game plan for the mud.”
Following close behind out the window with Tyrone’s game plan was either teams control of balance and ability to hang onto the football. The Eagles put the ball on the turf five times, losing two, while Punxsy dropped it twice and lost both.
At one point, the game took on the look of the old-time NFL films blooper reels, with neither team able to get a grip on the pigskin.
With under 5:00 left in the game, Tyrone running back Brice Mertiff dropped the ball as he hurdled the line and it was recovered at the P-48 by Punxsy’s Mark Lantz. On the next play, Woodchuck running back Dave Guidish dropped the ball on a sweep and it was scooped up by Tyrone’s Max Soellner at the P-42.
Tyrone fumbled on two of its next four plays and eventually punted, leading to Martin’s miscue in his own endzone.
“It wasn’t raining nearly as hard in the first half as it was in the second,” said Franco. “But you have to play through it. They don’t cancel football games.”
If they did, this one would have been a prime candidate for termination somewhere after Tyrone’s second touchdown with 24 seconds left in the first half. The teams combined for four turnovers, two botched extra points and at times looked like fawns learning to walk on ice on the saturated playing surface.
But despite the understandably sloppy nature of the game, it was a special win for the Eagles. It pushed their record to 6-3 on the season and secured the fourth seed in the Class AA playoffs.
The day and time of the game are yet to be determined, but the site is official – Gray Veterans Memorial Field in Tyrone.
“It’s a tribute to this team to come through three weeks in a row on the opposing team’s field,” said Franco. To win six of our last seven and lose only one game in a tough way, this team has shown so much heart. We talk about Team, Toughness, Tyrone and all the intangibles, that really rang true tonight.”
The game also saw the return of captain Dan Grazier to the lineup after missing four weeks with a broken left fibula. Grazier was used sparingly in the first half, but made his presence felt in the second with three solo tackles and one assist.
Tyler Mertiff ended just 17 yards shy of the TAHS single-season passing record, completing 6 of 14 passes for 122 yards and one touchdown. All of his completions came in the first half.
Tyrone got on the board first, scoring nine-play drive that covered 61 yards. Tyler Mertiff threw for 29 yards to junior Tommy Crowl on third down to the P-33 and the Eagles moved to the four on consecutive pass interference and encroachment penalities against the ‘Chucks. Two plays later, Ben Gummo scored from the one and added the PAT to giove Tyrone a 7-0 lead.
Punxsy got six back quickly, answering on their next possession with a 10-play 60-yard drive. Guidish ran in from the seven, but Martin’s extra-point try skimmed wide left off the upright.
The Eagles went ahead 14-6 with just 24 seconds left in the half with a 61-yard drive kept alive by a 24-yard reception by Josh Good on third down that moved the ball to the P-21. On third-and-8 from the 10, Mertiff found Crowl in the front corner of the endzone for his first touchdown reception of the season, and the Eagles went into the locker room ahead 14-6.
Punxsy made one serious push in the second half, moving all the way to the T-15 with 40 seconds left in the third quarter. But on fourth-and-1, Corey Blose was stopped inches short of the marker and Tyrone took over on downs.
Gummo led Tyrone on the ground with 43 yards on 12 carries and also had a 45-yard reception in the first quarter. Crowl finished with two catches for 39 yards.
GRID TIDBITS: Tyrone will most likely play Ligoneer Valley in the first round … Punxsy, now 5-4 after losing three straight, will host Bradford … Tyrone’s contract with Punxsy is up this season, with the Eagles winning all four games … Guidish finished with 26 carries for 138 yards … Good had one sack.
Tyrone 20 Punxsutawney 12
Score by quarter
Tyrone – 7 7 0 6- 20
Punxsutawney – 0 6 0 6 – 12
Scoring summary
first quarter
T- Gummo 1 run (Gummo kick) 2:01
second quarter
P- Guidash 7 run (kick failed) 9:39
T- Crowl 10 pass from T. Mertiff (Gummo kick) :24
fourth quarter
T- Tate fumble recovery in endzone (kick failed) 1:42
P – Snyder 25 pass from Martin (run failed) :03
Team Statistics
First Downs 12 16
Rushes 29 37
Rush yards 103 189
Pass Att. 12 7
Pass Comp. 6 2
Pass Yards 122 18
Interceptions 0 0
Fumbles lost 2 2
Penalty yards 2-20 6-35
Punts/Avg. 2-44 3-32
Total Offense 225 207
Individual Statistics
Tyrone: Gummo 12-43 (1 TD), B. Mertiff 12-33, T. Mertiff 5-27.
Punxsutawney: Guidash 26-138 (1 TD), Barilar 3-30, Martin 9-21, Blose 1-0 Meenan 1-(-1), .
Tyrone: T. Mertiff 6-12 122, 1 TD, 0 Int.
Punxsutawney: Martin 6-13 68 1 TD, 0 Int.
Tyrone: Crowl (1 TD), Jeffries 2-37, Gummo 1-15.
Punxsutawney: Barilar 4-43, Snyder 1-25