NORTHERN CAMBRIA – Gavin Dumm had only a sea of green ahead of him, but he couldn’t quite hang on to the football.
At least he knocked it down.
“I don’t mind. That’s good enough for me,” Dumm said with a sheepish grin.
Good enough for the Northern Cambria football team, too.
Dumm’s fourth-down break-up near midfield preserved a miraculous Colt comeback and a 28-14 Heritage Conference win for the hosts on Friday night at Duffy Daugherty Stadium.
Northern Cambria trailed 14-0 in the final minute of the first half after West Shamokin cashed in on its first two possessions on a pair of long, Colt-like scoring drives. However, Northern Cambria held the visiting Wolves scoreless from there, scoring four unanswered touchdowns, including a pair in the final 8:34.
Adam Kopera rushed for 182 yards, finding the end zone on runs of 41, 2 and 42 yards. The last scoring run came one play following Dumm’s near pick-six.
“It’s amazing. We’ve got the heart,” Kopera said. “We got in the locker room. We fixed things. We fixed the little things that we were messing up. We got our offense rolling. Our defense didn’t give up any points in the second half. It’s just teamwork.
“We had the heart to do it.”
The win was Northern Cambria’s seventh straight at home and the 11th in a row at Daugherty Stadium in the regular season. The Colts bounced back from a loss at Saltsburg last week to improve to 2-1.
“It looked bad at first, but we pulled together. We’re a family,” Colts four-year two-way line starter and captain Joe Wagner said.
Mike Hoover threw for 121 of his 199 yards in the second half.
He connected with Isaac Noll down the center of the field after another fourth-down stop near midfield. Noll caught it, broke a tackle around the 10 and scored the go-ahead touchdown with 8:34 left.
“It was just laid out perfectly,” Noll said of Hoover’s deep pass.
The Colts limited West Shamokin to 76 yards in the second half. Led by Logan McClafferty (133 yards, two touchdowns), the Wolves rushed for more than 100 yards in the first quarter alone, but couldn’t hang on and fell to 0-3.
“They just kept chipping away at us,” Wolves coach Jon McCullough said of the Colts.
West Shamokin’s first two possessions were a thing of beauty, punctuated by a mammoth 18-play, 92-yard drive that culminated in McClafferty’s 3-yard run through a big hole over right guard that made it 14-0 at 9:45 of the second quarter. The Wolves converted four third downs on the march and even overcame three penalties.
That came on the heels of a 12-play foray after the Wolves took the opening kickoff back to their own 36. McClafferty finished this one off on a 1-yard plunge.
West Shamokin had 103 yards rushing in the first quarter alone.
McClafferty had 102 yards on the ground over the first two quarters, carrying the ball 16 times, while Jaiden Haswell added 51 yards on nine first-half rushing attempts.
Northern Cambria, though, got back in it late in the half, getting on the scoreboard on Kopera’s 41-yard bolt on a counter through the center of the line with 56 seconds left in the quarter.
It was a big turnaround, as West Shamokin had a first-and-10 at the Colts 11 but were stopped there, and Ezeck Olinger’s 28-yard field goal went wide right.
Dumm turned in a huge play to keep the drive going hauling in a slant pass from Hoover for 27 yards on a third-and-23.
After Northern Cambria’s opening drive of the second half ended on downs at the Wolves 11, the Colts pulled within two points, going 76 yards following a West Shamokin punt. Kopera weaved the final 2 yards for the touchdown.