WINDBER - A win appeared improbable to many except sixth-seeded Tussey Mountain coming into its District 5 Class A quarterfinal game against third-seeded Windber.
Which is why the heartbroken Titans took their 34-28 loss to the Ramblers so hard. After shaking hands with the Ramblers, some of the players dropped to their knees. Some were just exhausted. Some were crying.
In one of the most entertaining games ever at 64-year-old Windber Stadium, the Titans rallied with two fourth-quarter touchdowns, but the banged up Ramblers' Mike Barbe scored the game-winning TD on a 4-yard with 29.5 seconds left in the game.
Photo for the Mirror by Tami Ogline Knopsnyder
Tussey Mountain’s Wyatt Brumbaugh gets up after sacking Windber quarterback Dakota Gipe.
Time ran out with Tussey at the Windber 13. TM's coaches and players argued that time shouldn't have expired, but the officials ruled otherwise.
"Tough, heartbreaking," TM coach Josh Smith said. "I've used those words a few times this year, but Windber's a good team. We played our tails off. We just ran out of time. That's what it came down to. I think if we had another 10 seconds, we'd punch it in and take the game."
"I'm emotionally drained right now," Windber coach Matt Grohal said. "Hats off to [Tussey Mountain]. They came ready to play."
Windber (9-2) paid a heavy price for the victory. Tailback Devon Tomlinson, who is also the backup quarterback, broke his ankle on the fifth play of the game. He had been playing for the Dustin Blough (concussion). Starting QB Dakota Gipe injured, among other things, his throwing shoulder on the ninth play of the same drive, missed the rest of the half and re-entered in the second.
Windber's third-string QB, Jacob Podrasky, a 5-foot-9, 140-pound sophomore, and excelled in Gipe's absence, completing 9-of-11 for 136 yards and three touchdowns. He was certainly helped by the talent of junior split end Matt Barkley, who hauled in nine of his 10 receptions in the first half for 130 yards and all three scores.
"No. 15 [Barkley] would slip one tackle and be gone," Smith said. "We can't miss tackles against a good, quality team."
"Matt Barkley played an exceptional game," Grohal said. "The job that Jake Podrasky did at quarterback for us was just amazing."
In a game with 764 total yards and 40 combined first downs, each team made big defensive plays in the second half. The first was by Barkley, who picked off Eric Husick in the Windber end zone on the first series of the second half. That led to Barbe's tackle-breaking 25-yard TD run later in the third.
That's when the Titans, who had 284 yards rushing, started their comeback. Mitchell Corbin scored on a 27-yard run on the first play of the fourth.
"Our offensive line was very strong," Smith said. "We did a good job."
The Ramblers were stopped on fourth down on the next series, and when they got the ball back, Michael Mitchell recovered a Barbe fumble at the Windber 23. On the fourth play, right after Darrin Sipes (16 carries, 111 yards) ran over Dan Tomlinson on a 10-yard run, Corbin scored on a 5-yarder. Stephen Carroll's PAT made the score 28-26 with 3:30 left.
"I was thinking we need a defensive stop, and we'll be in good shape to seal this one up," Smith said. "But again, there were missed tackles and a little bit of a blown coverage."
Windber went on an 11-play, 80-yard drive, and Barbe (19 carries, 106 yards) finished it off with his TD run.
When the Ramblers squibbed the kick, the ball was returned the Windber 47. Husick then connected with Sipes for a 34-yard gain to the 13, giving the Titans hope, but two incomplete passes ended the game.
"Darrin made a great play on the one swing route," Smith said, "and he went downfield to put us in position. We just didn't finish."
For the Titans, it was an up and down season. They were very good running the ball and stopping the run, but they finished with a 5-6 record.
"We lost several close games this year," Smith said. "We had a good year. I'll give the kids that. We improved every week and fought through adversity."
SCORE BY QUARTERS
Tussey Mountain7 7 0 14 - 28
Windber6 13 7 8 - 34
TM-T. Husick 1 run (Carroll kick), 3:02.
W-Barkley 43 pass from Podrasky (run failed), :12.9.
TM-Barnett 18 pass from E. Husick (Carroll kick), 9:12.
W-Barkley 6 pass from Podrasky (pass failed), 2:07.
W-Barkley 9 pass from Podrasky (Hanley kick), :04.2
W-Barbe 25 run (Hanley kick), 2:56.
TM-Corbin 27 run (Carroll kick), 11:52.
TM-Corbin 5 run (Carroll kick), 3:30.
W-Barbe 4 run (Toth pass from Gipe), :29.8
RUSHING: Tussey Mountain-Sipes 16-111, T. Husick 12-78, Corbin 11-67, Taylor 2-22, E. Husick 1-6. Windber-Barbe 19-106, Neri 13-55, Da. Tomlinson 10-44, Gipe 2-8, De. Tomlinson 2-7, Maurizio 1-3, Podrasky 3-(-20).
PASSING: Tussey Mountain-E. Husick 2-7-1-52. Windber-Podrasky 9-11-0-136, Gipe 5-8-0-89, TEAM 0-1-0-0.
RECEIVING: Tussey Mountain-Sipes 1-34, Barnett 1-18. Windber-Barkley 10-146, De. Tomlinson 1-31, Barbe 1-31, Da. Tomlinson 2-17.
INTERCEPTIONS: Tussey Mountain-none. Windber-Barkley.